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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

From the Mom Who Never Wanted to Breastfeed

Isaac will be 12 weeks tomorrow and I am proud to say he has never have had a drop of formula touch his little lips. At almost 14 pounds he is a happy, healthy little guy who loves nothing more than to take time out from a crazy day and be close to nurse.
I'm not here to argue the benefits of formula or breastfeeding. The last thing people respond well to is a perceived judgmental attack. No, this is just my story, my experience as a mama who never really wanted to breastfeed, yet here I am with my third baby and I have reached a pivotal milestone in my motherhood journey. It is a personal milestone. Isaac is the first child I will have exclusively breastfed for this long, and while we're at it I figure, why stop?
When I found out I was pregnant with Kaylie I wasn't really sure how I felt about breastfeeding. Obviously in our society it wasn't something I was around a lot. I felt it was surely not possible to exclusively breastfeed. It just seemed so restrictive. I wouldn't want to admit it, but secretly I wasn't ready to give up my freedom and have the breast ready at a baby's beck and call. I thought I might give it a try, and maybe use some formula as well. I look back now and realize the reason I failed at breastfeeding was that I was never truly committed. My heart wasn't there. Breastfeeding is not something you can casually give a try, it is a commitment to riding out the hardships that occur those first few weeks.. It is believing that beyond those early inconveniences lies a bond that will be sweeter than you ever imagined. I did try to breastfeed Kaylie, but I had not prepared the support I would need to see it through. At the first sign of hardship I jumped on the formula bandwagon. I quickly took offense at any le leche league ad I saw. I would think to myself how preachy these people were. Did they really think I didn't love my child as much because I formula fed? I will be the first to say that anyone can love their children deeply no matter how they feed their children. My mother tried desperately to breastfeed me, but for medical reasons I needed more nutrition than her body could give. I have no doubt she loved me very deeply even as she fed me with a bottle. What I have learned is that breastfeeding creates a beautiful bond that is not only beneficial for baby in terms of development, but it gives a whole new layer of meaning to giving your life for your child.
None of my attempts at breastfeeding have been easy. I tried a little harder with Micah, but an early return to work made it difficult to build the supply I needed to make it work. I remember the first night I realized I really had no milk to give him anymore. I was surprised at the heartbreak I felt. When I had Isaac I was determined to make it work.
The first couple of weeks I really had to work on Isaac's latch. I purposed I would stick with it, and did not allow any formula in the house those weeks. You do not know how tempting it is to make a bottle when you are tired at 2am and trying to get a baby latched on.
Like I said I am not here to preach, but share an experience. I can honestly so I am so happy to have made it 3 months already. I know many breastfeeding pros out there may look at this number as small, but to me it is an accomplishment. As I take time at work to pump I feel a sense of pride knowing I can do something for my baby even when we are apart. It makes me feel closer to him. I love coming home and seeing his eyes light up. He is so happy to get close and nurse after a long day. I have found once past those early days, breastfeeding is the easiest thing I have done. I don't miss washing bottles. I love that I can comfort him wherever we are. I used to be very self conscious about feeding in public. I'm still not one to just whip them out and start feeding, there are a lot of creepy people out there, but I have mastered the use of the nursing cape with whatever is available. I love being able to feed and go right back to sleep. Most importantly I love how close we are. As I bonded with Kaylie and Micah I had a lot of hidden selfishness I had to work through. In God's grace I have a deep abiding bond with both of them. With number 3 I have finally realized the benefit of what was initially perceived as short term sacrifice. A little perseverance and patience in the beginning can pay off with a lifetime of love. Isn't that what the whole experience of parenting is all about?
I am happy to say the only time we have issue with Isaac's latch is when he can't stop smiling, and I'm okay with that!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Satisfaction

As I sit here with a two month old staring into my eyes , melting my heart with sweet coos, I strain to imagine what life was like before all of this. I love how seamlessly God knits our new little ones into our hearts and family. Isaac has been more than a joy to each of us, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the opportunity to be home. Yes this is true even if there were and still are those moments that I believe I have reached my wits end.
Monday I will go back to work part time, two days a week. I have cried many tears over this. I am grateful it is not full time. I keep reminding myself that two days is nothing in the grand scheme of things, and yet as I sit nursing Isaac and listen to my children laugh as they play and enjoy their fleeting youth, I realize two days is everything to me.
I feel I have grown leaps and bounds in just two months. I have learned more about myself. I have learned more about my children. I have grown closer to Chris. Most importantly I have learned to rely completely and wholly on my Savior Jesus Christ .
There don't seem to be a lot of immediate rewards for sitting up with a baby at 3 am, wiping butts, wearing spit up in lieu of hair gel, and refereeing sibling spats. Yes, not always immediate, but something about mothering has put me in touch with the eternal. It is such a beautiful parallel to the walk with the Lord. When I'm just not feeling the mommy thing some days, I think about legacy. When I go into the workplace I may be the most awesome worker around. I may reach all the coveted achievements, but in the end I am replaceable. In the end no one will remember me for those accomplishments. Then I think about my children, ah MY children. I am shaping and molding for the future, creating deep ties that bind. I am praying and believing for their little lives to be changed, and that they will go out as salt and light in a dark world.
What a journey it is, and I am loving it. I pray for grace as things change a bit again. I know that He is more than willing to give it. I also know that only He knows the deepest desires of my heart, and with God all things are possible!