Somehow, time has flown incredibly fast and my sweet babe turned 2 on September 3rd. These past two years with her have been absolutely incredible. I never realized how much I was missing in my life until I became a mother. The day that I birthed that beautiful 7 pound, 11 ounce baby girl was the day that my life truly began. It was a difficult pregnancy and an even more difficult delivery, but it was a worth it the moment I got to hold my little red-headed beauty. I encourage you to check our her birth story when you have time, but today I am here to talk about two years of an amazing bond I shared with my daughter.
Even before I ever knew that I was pregnant, breastfeeding my future child was important to me. It was the one thing that I wanted to be able for my child and I was willing to do whatever it took to make that a reality. As soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I started reading about and learning as much information as I could to be successful in my breastfeeding journey.
While the information that I learned was helpful, I really feel like nothing prepares you for breastfeeding. I would be lying if I said that it was an easy journey. Those first few weeks were hard. I cried through feedings, fought with milk blisters on my nipples and had many sleepless nights.
But I persevered.
After getting through the initial pain, I still had to deal with the sleepless nights. I was very adamant about her not having formula so it was only me that could feed her when she woke up during the night. I hated to give her a bottle when I was home because I struggled with my milk supply. I built up as much of a supply as I was able but, after 8 weeks, I had to return back to work. As a teacher, I had time set aside to pump but I was not always able. Meetings, planning and parent conferences got in the way and so my twice a day pump sessions became just once a day sessions. I was making just enough milk for Vivi to have while I was at work. I had an incredibly small freezer supply so I was constantly worrying what would happen if I spilled milk or had a bad pump session.
But I persevered.
After struggling, I came up with a good regimen that seemed to work to build up my supply. I was taking Motherlove More Milk Plus four times a day, eating Milkmakers Lactation Cookies at least once a day, and I was drinking at least half of my body weight in water. Not only this, but I was waking up before the baby to pump, pumping on the weekends, and pumping during holidays to help build up my freezer supply. It was a lot of hard work. To me, though, it was all worth it. Breastfeeding my daughter was still one of the most important things that I was able to do for her and I loved the fact that I was providing for her. It helped to build a bond between us that can never be replaced.
While I always hoped to make it to 1 year of breastfeeding, I tried to focus on small goals to keep myself motivated and encouraged. First I focused on the first three days, then the first 3 weeks, then the first 3 months, and so on. At the 6 month mark we introduced homemade baby food (Check out my blog post on homemade baby food HERE) and baby led weaning and a knew that my journey was only going to get easier.
My long-term goal was going to become a reality because I had persevered.
The day my daughter turned 1 could not have been happier. Not only was I the mother of a happy, healthy one-year-old, but I had also made it to my goal of 1 year of breastfeeding. Thrilled was an understatement. I was proud of all that I was able to accomplish and amazed that my body was able to provide nourishment for my daughter for an entire year. While we did switch her to almond milk during the day, I was not ready to give up that bond or the ability to provide nutrients for my daughter. I made the decision to continue nursing her in the morning and at night. I think I enjoyed this toddler nursing period, in a lot of ways, more than I did nursing her through infancy. I feel like since the stress of pumping and producing enough was removed from the equation, I was able to focus more on the bond an my ability to both nourish and comfort. It didn’t bother me that Vivi was essentially using me as a pacifier. She needed me and I wanted to be there for her.
This continue on until this past summer. The morning that Vivi turned 22 months old, I made the decision to wean her. She actually did very well and only asked for her “Boos” twice. When we told her she could have her cup instead, she did just fine and never once cried. It was a truly perfect transition.
Now, as a sit her with my milk completely dried up, I want to encourage you to whatever you think is best for your baby. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that your baby is happy and fed. While we made the decision to not use formula, I have nothing against the mother’s who choose this option and am actually very thankful that an alternative option exists. For some women, breastfeeding is just not a possibility or an option. It is truly amazing that we live during a time when a food source is available to our babies other than a mother’s milk. I cannot imagine not having that option. I also want to encourage you to believe in yourself. Is breastfeeding is something that you want for your child, believe and know that you are capable. There is so many different options to help and encourage you through this period. Seek support! Some many different resources are available to new moms!
I leave you with one final word of encouragement.
You are not alone.
No matter what it is that you are going through in your breastfeeding journey, please know that you are never alone. There have probably been thousands of women, myself included, that are feeling or experiencing exactly what you are going through. Through all of this, my biggest encouragement and support was from other breastfeeding Mommas. They constantly encouraged, offered advice and even brought me lactation cookies! As women, we really do need to stand together, especially in times like this. It won’t always be easy, but is possible and, for me, the joy that I experienced from this bond was worth way more than any troubles or pain!
Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like to share your own breastfeeding journey! I always love to hear from you!
Photography: Monica Bailey Photography
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