We are officially 17 weeks in to breastfeeding over here.
17 weeks of non-stop feeding and nourishing Ezra since the moment he came into this world.
Most of you know that Ez was born premature (more on that here) and fueling him as much as possible has our top priority since day one. He has been exclusively having my breastmilk since we came home from the hospital and I would be 100% lying to you if I said it was easy. It may be the one of the most beautiful ways to bond with your child, but it is the furthest from easy.
There is a lot that happens with breastfeeding that no one talks about. At least I never received any type of warnings or heard much about the challenges that come wth it.
I used to scroll Instagram and see these magical photos of moms and their babies nursing so beautifully. Like it was a magnetic force or something bringing the baby and mama together and the baby just latches on so perfectly. Sure, I am guilty of taking (one) photo like this but what no one really saw was how many takes it took to capture that shot. You didn’t see Ez falling off my nipple or not wanting to feed in that position that day. Or when he screamed non-stop in the photoshoot from above. Part of me hated myself for sharing it on Instagram in the first place but when I look at it, it does remind me of the true beauty behind breastfeeding. The beauty that can be heavily masked by the massive amounts of chaos that takes over most of the time.
When I was pregnant, it was a pretty common question to be asked how long I planned to breastfeed for. And it was also assumed I would indeed breastfeed. Barely anyone even asked if I had an alternative plan. Being somewhat nieve, I would say “oh a year or so!”. Acting like it was nothing and it was going to be so simple and easy balancing being a new mama, working full-time, breastfeeding, getting sleep and some how saying alive over here.
I’m extremely grateful to be nursing in general (despite my blunt commentary this blog post). And I’m especially grateful to do so in a time where breastfeeding is so much more widely accepted than it was in the past. It makes it easier to whip my nipple out in public places. When my mom had my brother and I, it wasn’t really common to breastfeed. Nowadays if you don’t, you almost get a dirty look (especially in the wellness space).
And while it may be easy to judge a new mom for not wanting to breastfeed, no one has a f!cking clue what is like to do this until they are in the thick of it. And let me tell you, we are in the thick of it over here friends.
I had a relatively easy transition into nursing Ezra. My boobs didn’t get overly sore and my nipples didn’t blister like many women have experienced. It almost felt like I worked out too many days in a row without taking a rest day (granted I have never done that in my life since I don’t work out too hard…ha!). But eventually my boobs got used to it and they started to get the hang of things. Just in time for Ezra to be nursing on them directly instead of using one of those plastic nipple guards we needed to use for the first 3 weeks he was born. Ya…if you are wondering wtf that is, I don’t blame you. I had no idea until the nurse told me to use it to help him start latching easier. 3 weeks later we had created a monster who wouldn’t latch on without this dumb piece of plastic guarding my nipple. I eventually ripped it off like a bandaid around 4 weeks because I couldn’t take it anymore. Ezra hated me for it. He screamed even louder than he did during the other 23 hours of the day.
Ez has had a feeding schedule of every 2-3 hours since the day he was born. I always joke that “I can run but I can’t hide”. My boobs give him life and fuel him the same way it’s fueling my own body. Which by the way, had a really hard time physically adjusting to breastfeeding. I walked out of the hospital weighing less than I did before getting pregnant. And while people make comments about my body often and ask how I am so thin after having a baby, blah blah blah, they are quick to judge and say I don’t eat. Or say I am so lucky I lost my baby weight and didn’t need to do work for it.
Lucky? Are you effing kidding me? I don’t call looking like a 4th grader pre-puberty after labor, lucky. I felt like I looked disgusting for the first couple weeks after Ez was born. I refused to see people besides my family and had to more than double my food intake to even stay at the same weight and stop losing more weight. This is a prime example of how everyone’s body is truly so different. I wasn’t prepared for this. I honestly never even thought about my post baby body until I felt I didn’t even have a body anymore.
It took me about a month to regulate and starting putting weight on. I tested my hormones and everything was fine, which meant it was really just adjusting to this new life of breastfeeding. And my body had an insane reaction to producing milk for Ez. I kept joking he was milking every ounce of me, and it sure felt like the truth. Not to mention I also had a C-section and was in recovery post labor. Meaning I lost any muscle I had since I couldn’t work out or do much for a couple of months. And as someone who didn’t have a big frame to begin with, me losing my muscle also made a huge impact my physical appearance. I was a skeleton walking around with these massive milky boobs (massive for me.. the girl with A cups her whole life).
I remember going to one of my fave workouts about 10 weeks postpartum and it was my first time back. I was so excited to go. Not really to workout but just to have a couple of hours to myself and have human interaction. Until that took a turn for the worst and as I was washing my hands, a woman who was often in my classes with me made a comment that I didn’t look healthy and she couldn’t believe I had a baby. She also went on an made other negative comments about my appearance but I’d rather not focus on those right now.
..Seriously? She was also a mom and still to this day I don’t get how someone who had their own babies and has experienced the adjustment to motherhood, would make such a rude comment to someone postpartum. No one has any idea what anyone is going through personally, but mom to mom you know it’s an adjustment and negative comments don’t help anyone in any instance.
Another thing no one tells you about is how confusing it is to know if your baby is even eating enough. Sure you can make them latch for X amount of minutes but it is a guessing game to know how much is enough or how many ounces they are getting. You eventually get the hang of it and you’ll know by the amount of dirty diapers, weight gain, etc. but it is confusing! I still to this day get nervous if Ez only nurses for 10 minutes instead of longer he didn’t get enough to eat. I go by his signs and since he has never skipped a meal and has been growing, I think he has good instincts with how much he should eat. Plus I have heard as babies get older, they get the milk quicker when nursing, but who knows.
Since they also say breastmilk isn’t “as filling” as formula (no idea if that is true or not), I’m assuming that’s why Ez still eats during the night. Yup, that means this chick (and Jord) hasn’t had a full night of sleep since January 25, 2019, but hey who’s counting. It took Ezra until he was 15 weeks to only have 1 feeding a night around 3am. We didn’t cut him off from the other two feedings, and luckily it was something he started doing on his own. His doctor said he could also sleep train to cut off the last feeding but for now we are still doing it. We’re pretty adamant on him growing since he came home at 4 lbs 9 ounces but holy sh!t has this been exhausting.
The lack of sleep is really what has been killing me the most. Sleeping in two hour increments for over 3 months isn’t good for anyone. By the time you get into a decent sleep you wake up to hearing you bubba crying because they are ready for more. And as someone who doesn’t just face plant into the pillow and pass out, it’s been hard falling back to sleep each time. Thank goodness Jordan has been a flipping superhero and helped every single night. Including the night I had a massive panic attack and somewhat blacked out while Ezra was screaming as I tried to nurse him before bed.
Ez has gotten bottles 90% of his night feedings so I’m usually pumping and Jord does the bottle (personal choice and I talk about that here). Ezra wasn’t one to fall asleep right after eating so it was quite the process for one person to do on their own. I’d be in a gutter somewhere without Jord, that’s for sure.
I’m also lucky enough to work from home while breastfeeding. I am bowing down and tipping my hat off to every mama who works in an office and pumps all day. It is insanely hard scheduling work meetings, recipe development time, calls, pretty much anything that requires me to leave Ez for an extended period of time. I leave the two barre classes I take each week 10 minutes early, I’m rushing home from the train to be back on time, I’m pumping and carrying around breastmilk when I do miss a feeding and I am constantly keeping track of what time it is and how long until Ez’s next feeding.
Sure, I could pump more during the day and stay on a schedule, but I’m lucky enough to work from home. And I love him being the one demanding the milk and calling the shots over my pump all day. I love getting to spend those 20-30 minutes with my son and take a break. I get to hold him and snuggle him in between the stresses of work. Just smelling his baby scent calms me down when I am feeling overwhelmed. But I also love my job, my freedom and my sleep. So what does a mama do now?
…I have no idea!
If you are reading this blog post and wondering to yourself “if she sounds so negative about breastfeeding, why is she doing it still?” or “How long is she going to do this for then?”
And while those are very good questions, my answer is easy.
I’m going to breastfeed Ezra until we both know it is time to stop. There is no plan or set date. The longer the better in terms of the benefits for him, but I can’t put a time on this. I also need to take care of myself too. This isn’t easy and while this blog post may scare people from ever breastfeeding, that is not my intention. I want to share the challenges I have faced personally in this journey with you so that you aren’t caught off guard like I have been along the way. Everything you hear and see is so picture perfect about nursing your babies. “Oh I nursed my daughter until she was 2!” and they just say it like it was nothing and no big deal. And while it may be easy and not challenging for some, it isn’t the case for everyone.
I am passionate about giving Ezra the best I can in every way. I am his mother, I am his life line right now and behind every massive headache and all of these not so fabulous truths to breastfeeding, lies the most beautiful relationship I am forming with my son. Something that I will cherish for forever. I will also forever remember him nursing for over an hour once and my nipples going numb and me crying for hours in pain, but the bond we have has mother and son right now is irreplaceable. I tear up just typing this.
Will I breastfeed with my next child and the children we may have after? I sure do plan on it. But I’m not going to be a mom hiding behind that picture prefect Instagram post anymore. This ISH is real. It’s happening and while somedays I want to hide in a cave and cry, I know down the road I won’t regret this experience.