I did NOT always love breastfeeding or think it was beautiful! To this day I "cut my son off for good" about twice a week. For those that have ever wondered why someone would breastfeed...or why they would breastfeed past the time when their kid can eat "table food". Sit tight because I'm going to try and explain my reasons. And an FYI, there are going to be some pictures at the end (of other people as well as myself) and I really hope that you can see the beauty (or humor) in these images the same way that I did!
Today my son is 18 months old! Or in "non parent of an infant" terms, he is a year and a half. And YES...I am still breastfeeding!
I breastfed my daughter until she was 4 months old. I pumped when I got engorged, I fed her according to the schedule we created, and I thought nothing of it when my supply ran low and we switched to formula. I never understood why they offered me a lactation consultant in the hospital because I didn't have any problems getting her to latch. I didn't know that there was a reason my supply was running low. I didn't know I could build that supply back up, and I didn't even really get sad when that part of her infancy was over.
I did not know the true beauty of breastfeeding until my son! I had such a different, twisted idea of breastfeeding that it's almost like the whole thing was completely foreign to me. In fact, I remember saying, AFTER I had breastfed my daughter, that anyone who breastfed their child until they were 2...or beyond, were doing it for too long. And now here I am with a 1 and 1/2 year old and seeing the very real possibility that I am going to be that person! And I see it so differently now! Everyone has an opinion standing in their own shoes. Find yourself in that exact situation and watch that opinion change!
Why do I breastfeed? Well the answer for his first 6 months is easy and probably the same for most moms. I did it to sustain his life and give him the best possible chance at health! I did it because MY body knew HIS body because I created him inside of me! My body knew what he needed and when. My body knew when he was feeling sick and that he needed a little bit of an extra boost in his immune system! It is crazy amazing if you ever really do research into how breast milk and breastfeeding works!
The main reason I made it past that 4 month mark that my daughter stopped at was because my son did not sleep through the night like my daughter. I didn't know that even though my daughter slept all night I should still have been pumping in order to keep up my supply. I didn't have to worry about that with my son. He was right there in bed with me (I co-slept with both of my kids) waking up and then latching on. Even at almost 6 months I hadn't got the true beauty of breastfeeding yet. I used to get annoyed when he would want to breastfeed just because he was thirsty. I figured that he has water for that, why does he need to breastfeed for that part? I got annoyed when he wanted to use me as a human pacifier. He had one of those that wasn't attached to me! I tried to do research and figure out how to get him to only latch when he was hungry and that is when I started really diving into the beauty. I started reading things about how they are SUPPOSED to want to latch for more then just the one thing. I NEVER UNDERSTOOD THAT BEFORE. I saw a meme that really spoke to me and made me start to look at everything differently. It said something like "Before pacifiers were ever invented there were Moms" or something like that...It made me realize that the pacifier was an unnatural man made substitute for the real thing! I was the real thing. I started following a breastfeeding support page on Facebook (Breastfeeding Mama Talk ) and they helped me see even more of what this world really is all about!
My son had surgery for Hydronephrosis when he was 6 months old and I was very much the pacifier during his healing time! I was his pacifier, his water, his food, and his medicine! Did you know that breast milk has natural pain killers AND fever reducers in it!? I felt so important in those moments. Like what my body was creating was really making a difference in his life that no other substitute could do. That was such an empowering feeling! I felt so helpless in that situation and at least I could help him heal from the inside out.
I knew at that moment that I was for sure going to be breast feeding until AT LEAST a year. Then my son had his 9 month check up...He was in the 5th percentile weight wise and he was in the 20th percentile height wise. His doctor started telling me about how I wasn't giving him enough nutrients and how he wasn't growing. She was telling me that I had to start supplementing and that I had to start thinking about his growth now instead of the goal of getting to a year. I felt so overwhelmed and a bit bullied. Of course I was thinking about his growth! That's WHY I was breastfeeding. I cried in the parking lot at Toys 'R' Us after his appointment because I really didn't want to go inside and get formula. But with my son's medical issues (threatened miscarriage, failing his first 4 hearing tests, Hydronephrosis, Colic, Anemia, and Pica) I wanted to make sure I was doing what was best for him. So I dried my tears and went inside and got some Organic formula.
It was at that moment that I got an "aha" moment about my family. Why was it that I was so determined to the point of tears to give my son my breast milk as opposed to other milk? Because it's what was best for him. So why then was I not also feeling the same way about the rest of my family? Why wasn't I making sure that the food that my daughter was eating was the best for her? Why was I eating the stuff with all the chemicals and hormones when I could easily be eating the much better stuff!? For the first time I started feeling horrible that I hadn't taken the offer to speak to a lactation consultant all those years ago. I felt like I let my daughter down because I only made it to 4 months and I didn't even put in a real effort to get any farther for her. I called my husband and told him about the appointment and we both agreed that from here on out we were going to make a real effort to eat healthier!
My son HATED the formula. He refused to drink it out of a bottle so I continued to breastfeed him and I would supplement by mixing the formula into iron-fortified (for his anemia) oatmeal. That was the only way he would take it! It felt good to know that his body preferred what was better for him! I still felt like I was the only source of milk for him all while he was getting a little extra for his growth! We continued this way and made it to year 1. And then 14 months...and then 16 months...
Now here we are at 18 months! I no longer breastfeed on a schedule like I used to and he drinks Lactaid (he's lactose intolerant like me and his sister when she was little) cows milk now because it has the most protein (to help his growth) of all the milks. I feed on demand because he doesn't stick around for too long. He is such a busy little guy and I think breastfeeding is mainly for bonding and comfort now. Or maybe it's a little game he is playing. He sees me with a shirt where he knows he can get to them so he helps himself. If I'm exposed AT ALL that's an open invitation to feeding time! And I never thought I would get to the place where I was okay with that! I never thought I would get this far!
Like I said earlier, I cut him off every few days. If I'm trying to get things done and hes pulling at my shirt, or if he wants me to hold him and then dives right in causing me to almost drop him because he's so big now. And even though I am at a place where I will absolutely breastfeed (uncovered (he always pulled the covers off)) in public, I would still rather not have my boob hanging out with a toddler attached to it while I'm trying to check out at the grocery store. Those are the times where I am thinking, "This is just for comfort boy. You can wait!" And of course then he is screaming at the top of his lungs and wrestling with me and it would have been easier and faster to just breastfeed him. Yup! Those are the time when I quite! Then we get home and he wants to feed and I am on board again! As long as no one (mainly his 7 year old silly sister) makes him laugh! I was terrified of breastfeeding a kid with teeth! We had a few incidents early on with biting and I was very much ready to stop. But BFMT posted a few tips and tricks and encouraging words at just the right time and we made it through that obstacle! Now he only bites if he laughs while breastfeeding. That is why no one is allowed to make him laugh!
I am exhausted and excited and amazed at the same time with this breastfeeding journey. I have learned so much and I am still learning! Did you know that a person can lactate even if they were never pregnant!? Did you know that the average age for a child to stop breastfeeding in every other part of the world EXCEPT America is 4!? Seems very cultural when you look at it that way! We, at some point, decided that past 2 is too long and we have accepted a cultural standard to be truth even if it isn't. Did you know that humans are the ONLY species to wean their child off of milk made FOR THEM only to give them the breast milk of another species!? It's starts to really look crazy when you think of it that way doesn't it!?
So to conclude...we sorta stumbled into this 18 month point. I didn't realize I was going to find myself here but I am happy that I am. I don't know how much longer it's going to be but I am okay with that. I am also thankful that breastfeeding opened my eyes to health with food! There are so many more vegetables, fruits, non hormonal, and organic things in my house now thanks in large part to breastfeeding! And with that I will leave you with some pictures that I thought were amazing. BFMT shared a picture from Ivette Ivens Photography on their page and that's how I found these! You should really check out her page if you find these images as beautiful as I did! She has a book coming out called Breastfeeding Goddesses that features these types of pictures.
And now for images of me and Cosby. I am including these because...why not? It's a post about my adventure with breastfeeding and I have been able to capture some of those moments!
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