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!