Mama Miller Parenting

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

Along the Milky Way: My Breastfeeding Journey

on October 25, 2013

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K, my oldest, is now a precocious, talkative four year old. He is also huge and tops out the growth chart in height.

But, his beginning was much rockier.

After a 20+ hour failed induction, he was taken by emergency c-section. During the surgery the doctor discovered a large cystic tumor on one of my ovaries. By the time I was wheeled into recovery I was emotionally and physically battered, and less one ovary.

Our first few weeks were very rough. He was jaundice. My milk wasn’t coming in. We had to see an orthopedist because he had a tendon problem in his feet. He wasn’t gaining weight and my pediatrician was awful about it. It was brutal.

Despite herbal supplements, nursing around the clock, and pumping; I completely dried up at five weeks. It was devastating. I had desperately wanted to see his little cheeks grow chubby with MY milk, but losing the ovary had wreaked havoc on my system and thrown my hormones off.

When my daughter, E, came along two years later I knew this time would be different. I still had to have a c-section because of my condition, but hopefully would avoid extra surgery.

My hopes were realized and I was able to nurse in the recovery room. She too lost more weight than desired, but was getting more milk. I had a more supportive pediatrician and I was able to mostly breastfeed with less supplementing than before. I nursed her until my gallbladder started to fail at 5 months postpartum.

I dried up during my recovery from surgery.

Then the postpartum depression and anxiety hit. It was awful. I had worked so hard.

Now I sit rocking my third child, another boy, while typing. My four year old is building a block fort with his two year old sister. I am at peace.

At four weeks old my little man is back up to birth weight and has a full tummy of MY milk.

I fought hard for this moment of peaceful bliss.

During these first weeks I have taken enough Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk Tea to permanently smell like an IHOP. I’ve endured cracked nipples, marathon nursing sessions, and pumping. I’ve nursed with my two year old perched on my legs and patting the baby on the head. I’ve nursed while my four year old talks incessantly about Star Wars. I used a supplemental nursing system to add a little pumped milk and formula to his feedings.

Over the past two weeks something wonderful began to happen- he started rejecting the supplemental nurser because he was full. He was full!

I’ve also shed a lot of modesty on this road. I’ve nursed in restaurants, in the mall, in the car, and even in the Library’s break room. I no longer hide under a huge hot tent cover.

The picture above shows my typical nursing in public position. I use a muslin swaddle blanket and cover the goods, but leave his little head, eyes, and nose peeking out. I’m still fairly modest, but I will not nurse in fear anymore. And I certainly won’t look down on those who nurse without any cover.

I get it now.

I understand the rally cries of ‘breast is best’. Without that motivation, many of us wouldn’t survive the first few grueling weeks.

It can be ridiculously hard. Some babies won’t latch when covered. Sometimes you just feel accomplished to have a shirt and bra on.

For those on that journey: Good job mama. You are a warrior. You are amazing and strong.

I also want to encourage the bottle moms.

I, more than anyone, understand the guilt associated with formula. I’ve sat feeding my baby and looked over in envy of the breastfeeding mom cuddled up with her nursling. I’ve experienced the heartbreak of knowing that I’m not enough to sustain my baby.

Guess what mama… You are doing a good job too.

Your babies will grow and thrive- mine did.

K is a strong, smart four year old. Formula didn’t warp his brain. He doesn’t have an extra limb from his time of powdered sustenance.

E is adventurous and sweet and brave despite her time as a nursling being cut short.

All you sweet, sleep deprived mamas:

You are beautiful.

You are strong.

You will eventually sleep again.

You are doing a good job.

You are enough- no matter how you feed your baby.

With love,

Mama Miller

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5 responses to “Along the Milky Way: My Breastfeeding Journey

  1. mathairfiona says:

    How powerful. Brings tears to my eyes as I sit here nursing. Much love.

  2. Winding road says:

    Just beautiful! And all your sweet powerful words right back atcha! My son hated my nursing cover, he kicked and pulled it off every time and I couldn’t have cared less 😉

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