The Milk Maid is on Vacation

That's right.  I'm officially DONE nursing Marco!  It's bittersweet.  My goal was to nurse him for 12 months, and I made it to 13 before giving up.  I'm also happy to say that I am not the one who decided I was done, HE was the one that decided he was done.
When I was deciding whether or not to breastfeed, the choice became rather clear.  Although breastfeeding has a lot of downsides, I think that the advantages way outweigh the cons.  For us, I knew that financially speaking, it was wiser to breastfeed... after all, it's FREE! (what a bargain!)  Have you seen how expensive formula is?!  Holy cow!  I also saw it as a convenience issue.  I have never washed bottles, prepared and mixed formula, been worried that I have clean bottles or enough formula, or if we're going out for the day that I have enough to last our trip.  I know that if I'm there, the baby WILL be fed... no pre-planning necessary!  Also, there is no denying the health benefits to the baby.  This is not a breastfeed vs formula feed debate... I do not think formula is poison or bad for your baby, but it is FACT that breast milk is more beneficial.
Jennifer once told me, "so basically you're a slave to your baby... you have to be with him all the time to feed him... or your a slave to the pump".  This is so true!  Especially for the first 6 months.  You really ARE a slave to your child.  Some people can't handle being at the beck and call of their hungry little one... and that's ok.  It's honestly exhausting.  As a breastfeeder, YOU are the only one who can feed the baby... be it 3 in the afternoon, or the dreaded 3 in the morning.  Yes, you could pump, freeze and then have your husband do the 3am feeding... but then you'd be engorged and have to pump anyway.  Oh, and then your husband will wake you up to ask you a dumb question, such as "how much milk?" or "where's the burp cloth?", so you'll get up to help.  It's a real win-win.  My whole thought process was "it's temporary".  Those two words got me through.  It's temporary!  So if I have to be a slave to my son for 13 months of his life... ok... I do it GLADLY!
People always say to me "oh, you're so lucky you got to breastfeed".  Honestly, this really bugs me.  I'm not LUCKY... I'll tell you what I am:  dedicated, committed and full of perseverance!  It has absolutely nothing to do with "luck".  In fact, it was NOT easy to breastfeed in the beginning... but due to my commitment and perseverance, I was successful.  The first week of the baby's life is vital for a potential breastfeeder.  If you and your baby do not practice breastfeeding every 3 hours, you run the risk of not having a decent latch, or your supply being low, or worse even, your milk not coming in at all!  The first week of Marco's life, he was in the NICU.  I was unable to even ATTEMPT to breastfeed until he was FOUR days old!  But this did not deter me.  Only 2 hours after delivering Marco, I had a lactation consultant bring me a pump.  I pumped every 3 hours around the clock.  That means that even though I did not have a hungry baby waking me up every 3 hours to feed, I set my alarm clock and woke myself up to provide my breasts with the needed stimulation.  And the pump HURTS... much more than a little baby mouth!  So, 4 days later, when I was finally invited into the NICU to take my first stab at breastfeeding, it was a disaster.  Marco had been fed through a tube, so he was still taking in MY milk, just not from me.  Since he had gone so many days without sucking, and he was a premie, he could not latch on.  Thankfully, I had a lactation consultant with me, guiding me as I went.  It ended up that he COULD NOT latch!  We were forced to use a nipple shield... not for a few days... for SIX MONTHS!
  So, please... I am NOT lucky... becoming an "official breastfeeder" was very difficult work!  I could have easily given up and said "this is too hard" or "I'm too tired" or "using this shield is a PITA" or "the pump hurts too much" or any number of excuses.  But I stuck with it... through the pain, through the sleepless nights, through the stress!
I had family tell me "oh, you'll only breastfeed for 3 months... you wont make it the full year".  And, I always thought that I'd just go as long as I could.  When I made it to 3 months, it started to get easier.  When I made it to 6 months, he began latching on his own and it became WAY easier.  When I made it to 8 months and he stopped nursing at night, it became heavenly.  When I made it to 10 months and he dropped down to 4 feedings a day, it became freeing.  When I made it to 13 months and he decided he no longer wanted to breastfeed, it became bittersweet.
I am so proud of my accomplishment to have been able to breastfeed Marco for 13 months!  I am so proud that my baby has never had a single drop of formula.  I am so pleased with the bond that has developed between Marco and I due to breastfeeding.  I feel like I set a goal for myself and surpassed it!
But now... the milk maid is on a vacation... for only 4 months, until #2 is born.  Then we start this whole process over again... and I CAN'T WAIT!


Rita said...

I am VERY Proud of you too Mija!! I was one of the doubting Thomases that thought it would be tooooo hard, etc. Sorry, I should have known Not to EVER Doubt You!! Congratulations!! It's AWESOME that Both your "little men" will have been breastfead!
I Love You BIG!! Mami

Mirella said...

Hey Nic... I Hope I can be as good a mom as you someday!