We made it to a year! I have to say, I am pretty proud of myself! I have never set a goal for breastfeeding, but in the back of my mind I knew it would always be to not have to use formula. & we did it! It wasn’t easy, and still isn’t. I’m sure I am not alone when I say breastfeeding was intimidating and I was completely terrified. Terrified that I wouldn’t be enough, I couldn’t handle it, & that I would fail. But the truth is you cannot fail. It doesn’t matter if you breastfeed for a day, a week, a year or you never do, you still succeeded by keeping your baby fed. Although this post is about breastfeeding, I never want anyone to think it’s wrong to choose formula, for whatever reason.
Kash was born early at 37 weeks. It was a completely unexpected induction, I only had 12 hours notice. I can’t even begin to tell you how scared I was in that hospital room trying to latch this brand new baby, having no idea what I was doing. The nurses were so helpful & Jacob was there to support me the whole time. I was so thankful he latched really well and didn’t seem to have any problems. After my epidural wore off, every time he would latch, I was in so much pain, it felt like labor all over again. I had no idea, but the nurses told me that I was having these pains because breastfeeding helps the uterus go back to normal quicker. So that lasted for a good 3-4 days. I was so glad when that stopped!
We were in the hospital for 3.5 days, a lactation consultant would come in at least once a day to check on me. We almost always had visitors when she would come in, so I didn’t get to talk to her as much as I would’ve liked. I highly recommend dismissing your visitors instead of the LC, unlike I did. They are super helpful in those first few days, especially helping you figure out if baby has a good latch or not. During our hospital stay, Kash lost over 10% of his weight , but luckily we have a wonderful pediatrician who did not try to push formula on me. We just had to go in for a couple extra weight checks and he gained it back fairly quickly after we left the hospital.
Once we got home, I felt a little more at ease. He was breastfeeding like a champ, and by champ I mean 30 times a day, also known as Cluster Feeding. It is so hard to deal with because I felt like he wasn’t getting enough and that’s why he kept wanting to feed. I quickly found out Kash was doing more than cluster feeding, he is a “snacker.” He would only want to eat for 5-10 minutes every hour vs the “normal” 30 minutes every 2 hours. Throughout our whole breastfeeding journey that has never changed. He is too high strung to sit still for more than 10 minutes to eat, unless he is falling asleep. Because of this he was up, and still is up, sooo many times a night. I lose count every night and have to check out Owlet monitor to see how much he woke up. After a week & a half, Jacob went back to work, so it was just me getting up with him. I was beyond exhausted, sooooo, he ended up in our bed by 10 days old. Naive me thought “this is temporary, I just need sleep.” HA, he’s still there.
Back To Work
I took a 10 week maternity leave & the day I returned to work, I came home & cried all night because I never wanted to leave Kash again. I hated every minute of being away from him. I knew I couldn’t stay home full time, so I dropped to part time after 10 weeks of being back. In the beginning, I was pumping every 2 hours. I would feed Kash between 6:30 and 7 am, pump at 9, 11, 1, 3, & return home from work between 4:45 & 5 pm. I grew to hate pumping, it was so draining & made me miss him even more. But I pushed through because I knew it was worth it. Pro tip, when you’re pumping at work, you do not have to wash your parts after every pump. I would wash mine each night and at work I kept them in a bag (linked in Must Haves Post) & put them in the fridge between sessions. It was a life saver!
When Kash was about 6 months old I dropped one of my pump sessions & stretched them out a little more. It was working great until about 8 months postpartum when Aunt Flo made her grand reappearance. My supply dropped drastically. I went back to pumping every 2 hours and sometimes pumping on my days off just to keep up with how much he was eating while I was gone. A couple months later I had depleted my freezer stash. He was drinking one more bottle (3 ounces) than I was pumping in a day. I really didn’t know what I was going to do. We were so close to a year but I just didn’t have enough to get us by.
One day I was texting one of my best friends, Taylor about breastfeeding and pumping. She had a baby girl, Piper, 6 months after Kash was born. She has a major oversupply and was pumping over 50 EXTRA ounces a day on top of breastfeeding Piper. I was telling her how my supply had plummeted and I had blown through my freezer stash trying to keep up with Kash. She said “Please come get some of my milk!” That afternoon I left work & went to her house where she loaded me up with 300+ ounces of milk. We are so so thankful for her and her generosity. I cannot even begin to explain the weight that took off my shoulders. I could breathe again, I didn’t have to sit there and stress about every little ounce anymore. She is a life saver!!
After I got the donor milk from Taylor, I dropped back down to 3 sessions per day. When Kash was 11 months old, I dropped to two. I recently dropped to just one, right before all of the COVID-19 started & everything shut down. As a banker, I am still working, we are just on 2 week rotations. So two weeks after I dropped to one pump, I was sent home for 2 weeks. Being home, Kash has nursed constantly. Especially since he just cut two new teeth. Because of him nursing so much, when I go back to work this week, I think I will have to pump at least twice a day to stay comfortable.
My plan has always been to wean Kash when he turned one, but after his birthday, I quickly realized neither one of us was ready. I definitely didn’t want to wean since the COVID-19 outbreak. So after everything is normal again, hopefully soon, we will just take it day by day. My goal is to quit pumping at work & just nurse when I’m home, but I know that will have to wait until I am back to my normal work schedule. Right now I am trying to offer Kash a sippy of whole milk when he wants to nurse during the day. If he refuses, I will nurse him, but he has been doing good & accepting the sippy a couple times a day at least.
The past year has been anything but easy, but it has been so worth it to give my baby the best nutrition for his whole first year. I hope you have enjoyed this post, and like I said before, please never feel bad for choosing not to breastfeed or having to stop. You’re the mama & every experience is different. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out, I would love to help!
I also wrote a post with all the links to my favorite things while breastfeeding, you can check that out here!