Breast, Bottle or Both?
Let me start by saying that I have breastfed all three of my daughters and not one of those experiences was anything like the other. From struggling with latching, to breezing through feeding time like it was second nature; I have seen, felt and endured just about everything in the book.
As well as being successful, I have also failed at breastfeeding. I have given up, only to find myself returning to the task in hopes of prevailing through the stress with vigor and angst.
When latching didn’t work I resorted to hours attached to a pump, followed by cleaning and prepping bottles while caring for my sore, swollen breasts. It hasn’t all been pretty, at times I wondered if it was even worth it.
My First Born Was A Daddy’s Girl
From day one my oldest daughter took a strong liking to being held by her father. She would scream, cry and fuss so much that I would often find myself thinking I was far from a mother because I couldn’t even console my own infant. I told myself that if only I figured out what she wanted, watched how my husband held her and learned from him, if I mastered the latch, she would take to me the way she took to him. Maybe even take to breastfeeding without the nipple guard, letting me hold her snugly like I always dreamed of doing when she was in my belly.
My daughter however, just didn’t seem to want me, or at least didn’t want to nurse. She begged for her daddy, she refused to latch at four months old and would only take her bottle. At that time we were mostly pumping and bottle feeding anyway because I had gone back to work, so it seemed easy enough to stop the breasting all together, let her wean herself off the breast-milk and start buying formula.
My Second Daughter Was My Little Shadow
I have strong memories of hearing her cry for me uncontrollably. One night in particular, right around one month postpartum, my father and husband insisted on bottle feeding her while I struggled to compose myself at the dinner table, just enough to eat my dinner. It was the worst kind of cry, especially to hear as a new mother being told to ignore your maternal instincts, let someone else handle it and just worry about yourself. Yeah, that was not going to happen.
She would beg for me the way my first would beg for her father. It broke my heart all over again, but this time I could save her from her discomfort. She was a natural when it came to latching, which made nursing the second time around all that much easier. I never really got the full experience with my first, because of her refusal to nurse, so while I had a taste of what it was like I really didn’t know the depth of the bonding experience it could bring. It was such a breeze, we ended up making it all the way through her first year before she decided to start weaning.
Then Came My Little Tie Breaker
After taking on nursing twice, seeing what seemed to be the complete opposite of parallels for the breastfeeding mother, I felt like we had a 50/50 chance of things going well with my third little.
Thankfully, so far it seems like my first was the most challenging. This time around, nursing is easier by itself, but now I face new struggles. The struggles of a mother with two other children to feed, referee, console and cuddle. All the challenges of being a busy Mama, only this time I’ve got a baby attached to my boob and one free hand if I’m lucky.
Now, this isn’t to complain about having to nurse while taking care of my home, my littles and my hardworking hubby. I am only saying that these things have made having a third child, especially in the aspect of breastfeeding, a very different experience from each time before.
I have had to learn to be creative in ways that allow me to handle it all. As well, learning when to walk away is more important now then ever before.
Fed Is Best
Overall, from one infant to the next I learned that breastfeeding wears many different faces. It has many surrounding elements that mold a Mama’s experience. How your littles respond to breastfeeding isn’t something that you should feel any type of guilt about. Babies have their own personalities from day one, they know what they like as they gain experience and grow in life.
I learned that my first daughter’s reaction to nursing was never a reflection of how she saw me as a mother. She still loved when we cuddled, she still laughed and begged me for attention, but there was something about feeding time that made her feel like it was meant for bonding time with Daddy.
That’s okay! In fact, because of that my oldest and her father have the cutest bond. They laugh like school kids and go on adventures from blanket forts to trips to the store.
Not to mention it made my husband feel like he really had a huge part in taking care of his first child, setting him up with experience and memories that cannot ever be replaced.
Whether you have chosen to feed one way, reluctantly given into feeding another or had a mix of both, just know that there is no one way to feed your littles. There are many different ways to bond together, to grow their little bodies to be strong, healthy and all that comes with the importance of feeding an infant.