MOTHERHOOD: OUR FEEDING JOURNEY

I can’t believe my precious baby boy is 5.5 months old! The newborn stage with Teddy has flown by SO much faster than it did with Lilly. I feel like I blinked and now here we are, halfway to one year. 

Teddy is the sweetest boy who is so generous with his smiles and his cuddles. He adores his big sister and watches her with fascination all day long. And now that he’s rolling, standing and pulling himself up, I suspect he’ll be trying to match her energy from here on out. We have loved loved loved watching this precious boy develop into the (big) tiny human that he is.

But anyone with kids knows that the newborn years can be tough. One of my biggest emotional challenges with Teddy has been our feeding journey. He has been an excellent and voracious eater. But it hasn’t gone as planned. After hanging on for as long as I could, I sadly gave up breastfeeding at five months and Teddy is now on all formula. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for me knowing that this is our last baby. I wanted to nurse him as long as possible for many reasons, one of the biggest being Covid and providing him with my immunity. But, we’ve had some challenges over the past few months that made keeping up with nursing really hard and I had to take into account my mental health and the mental and emotional health of my family. And, I truly believe that the FED IS BEST method is the only way to feed your baby.

Breastfeeding in general is HARD. Not only do you experience physical discomfort, but you worry if your baby is getting enough, you carry the responsibility of being the only one who can feed your baby, and most of your day is spent nursing or pumping. There is a lot of pressure on moms to breastfeed. And I understand why to a point. Breastfeeding is so good for the baby and for the mom. It provides extra immunity to the baby, it promotes a healthy bond between mom and baby, it decreases the chance of SIDS, you can feed the baby anywhere at anytime and not have to worry about milk temperature or milk spoiling – the list goes on. I am one hundred an advocate for breastfeeding but I’m also an advocate that you do what’s best for you and your baby. At the end of the day, FED IS BEST.

Breastfeeding with Lilly was REALLY hard. I had to fight tooth and nail to nurse her until she was six months. I did everything I possibly could to keep the milk supply up.  I ate oatmeal multiple times a day, drank a ridiculous amount of mothers milk tea, ate lactation bars, drank water, etc. And I still had to supplement with formula.  And I’m really dang proud I got her to six months. 

Teddy started out really strong and we had an easy go the first three months. He ate every 1.5-2 hours and was always so happy and content after nursing. However, the stress and strain of life since October (going back to work and then quitting my job (really leaving behind a career), covid, sick kids, and surgery for Rob just to name a few) had taken a toll on me and my milk supply significantly dropped over the course of a few weeks. I went from producing 4-7 ounces of milk to 2-3 and then to less than one. As this was happening Teddy went from eating 2-3 ounces to 5-7 and my body couldn’t keep up. I started supplementing with formula, which led to a preference in bottles over nursing for him. At some point we switched to all bottles that were half breast and half formula, but pumping around the clock with a three year old and a baby and being the only parent home during the day is really dang hard. I started missing pumping sessions because I just didn’t have time and this signaled to my body that it didn’t need to produce as much. 

I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty and disappointed that this is the way our feeding journey has gone. I feel guilty I don’t have time to do all the lactation things I did when I nursed Lilly. I feel guilty that during the time of covid I won’t be able to give him my antibodies much longer. I feel guilty that I’m a little bit relieved to be done nursing because now the responsibility of me being the only one who is able to feed him has lifted. (In the beginning I worried so much that something would happen to me and I wouldn’t be able to feed him). And this guilt feeling leaves me so angry and frustrated. Moms shouldn’t feel this way or have so much worry and anxiety about feeding their babies. It shouldn’t matter how we feed our babies. What matters is that we feed them and that they are healthy and growing.

I admit that this has been a really emotional post for me to write and I cried several times while trying to write it over the last few weeks. I try to remember that every month that I nursed him or pumped gave him an incredible boost, and the first three months of exclusively nursing helped us form a connection that I love and cherish. I also know that breastfeeding is challenging or not even an option for many moms, so I’m thankful that we had as much time as we did.  

I hope that by sharing my journey I can help other moms who are feeling bad or discouraged about breastfeeding. It’s an emotional ride for sure, but let’s all remember we are doing our best and your baby adores you and loves you no matter which feeding method you choose.  I couldn’t have nursed Teddy as long as I did without the support of Rob and my family.  I’m incredibly grateful for their encouragement and support throughout this journey. 

So let’s all choose to support each other and offer encouragement. And remember to give a mom you know a hug, because being a mom is the hardest job and sometimes we just need to know we are seen and appreciated.

And remember, fed is best!! 

Sláinte,

Shannon

6 thoughts on “MOTHERHOOD: OUR FEEDING JOURNEY

  1. oh my gosh, i felt every word of this! my first (now 13) was born at 32 wks and i was never able to breastfeed, so pumping was life. I made it 6 months. my second, (now 10) I made it to I think 8 or 9 months with but the return to work and the guilt and the pumping and the commute and anxiety and all of the demands and not wanting to miss a moment of it was just wildly overwhelming. I cried along with you reading this and re-living all these emotions. Hang in there mama! I’d say things get easier, but its more that we get used to it, and it gets different, and we grow. hugs and high fives!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading!! It’s comforting to know that this resonates with you! Sometimes it can feel lonely on this overwhelming journey of motherhood. I’m so glad you shared your experience too! 💙

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    1. Thanks Becky!! It wasn’t easy to share, but I’m glad I did! It was comforting how many people reached out with similar experiences or just to say thanks 💙

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