a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with Calvin I never gave much thought as to how I would feed my baby besides taking one breastfeeding class at the hospital. I figured I would either nurse or give him a bottle and that was that. Fast forward to having 3 baby boys, two rounds of postpartum depression and having nursed all of them I am here to tell you my love /hate relationship with breastfeeding.

The Love

-Let's state the obvious, it is FREE!

-There are no bottles to wash. I can feed my baby without having to clean or prepare anything which makes those long days and nights super easy and convenient

-It helps you burn calories and lose baby weight faster

-I love the way I feel connected to my baby when I am nursing, it is a relaxing and there is a indescribable feeling you get  once you both get the hang of it.

-You can go anywhere and have your baby's food supply on hand ;)

-Breastfeeding is an easy way to soothe a cranky baby and also is a sweet bonding time

-Once baby is 3 months old nursing sessions are super quick 

-There are many nutritional benefits for mom and baby

The Hate

-All of my babies refused the bottle (minus Leo for a few weeks)

-I legitimately always wondered who would nurse my baby for me if I was to ever die

-I cannot be away from my baby too long if it is close to feeding time

-I need to think ahead of where and when you will nurse in public and find a cover that is not too hot for both you and baby

-I feel an overwhelming amount of pressure because my body literally is what keeps my baby alive

-No one else can feed my baby for me

-It is a lot of money to breastfeed believe it or not (nursing bras, nursing pads, pump parts, time)

-In the beginning nursing can take forever and also can leave you feeling engorged and in pain

-Every baby has to learn how to breastfeed and it does not come as naturally as you may think

-Weaning your baby from nursing can be hard, painful, and mentally exhausting

-You need to pump if you go on a date or if baby sleeps too long at night, because engorgement is the worst

Nursing did not come easy or naturally for me but it is something I am so thankful I have been able to experience with each of my 3 boys. I do often think about how nice it would be to not have to always think about breastfeeding or how my baby's feeding also effects my body. I can easily get jealous when I see a mom giving her baby a bottle in the store or at church and  I have to find a place to sit and cover myself. But at the same time I love how my body is able to nourish my baby and although the responsibility can be much, I love how needed I am.

If I could do college all over again I would have loved to study to be a lactation consultant and help moms with their breastfeeding journey. My experience with breastfeeding has only been successful due to my families support, my lactation consultant, and all of the resources we have online.  And since everyone's journey with breastfeeding is different, some happy, some sad, some difficult, I wanted to share some other mom's insights on breastfeeding. Here is some encouragement, advice, and stories from other moms whom I respect and love.

This is one aspect of your child’s health—yes, it’s an important aspect, and healthcare professionals are pretty solidly agreed that it’s incredibly beneficial to both you and your baby—but it IS only one aspect. Think of the long term goal—a healthy mother, a healthy child, a healthy marriage. Just because you don’t breastfeed doesn’t mean you’re going to raise a soda-swilling, Cheeto-munching indigent. Remember that you’re on a steep learning curve—trying to balance a healthy body and life for yourself, for your baby, and for your family—without any instructions or insight on how best to do that. Be mindful that the best thing to do isn’t always the easiest, but that the easiest thing to do may be the best thing for your situation.
— Brooke V.
For most of my short time as a mom I carried so much guilt that breastfeeding didn’t work. It always felt like a troubleshooting game with tips, advice and even classes encouraging me to do/try/push harder than I currently was. I wish someone at the beginning of my journey just bluntly told me that it’s okay if breastfeeding doesn’t work out (instead of sharing the next thing I’d eventually try). It’s okay. Life will go on & you can still be a great mom if you pump or formula feed or partial breastfeed. I put far too much of an emphasis on what society is telling me that I need to do instead of reminding myself that God is good, this season is temporary, and feeding my son spiritually is far more important than physical food. Those truths still encourage me daily.
— Steph M.
I had to keep setting timelines for myself like, “I’ll try to make it to 3 months, then 6 months. I felt obligated to stick with it since it was good for him, I was producing enough, and I was staying home and wanted to save the money. My least favorite part was the lack of flexibility, and most places you can’t just stop and breastfeed on demand so I never left home or was greatly bending over backwards trying to do it discreetly or hiding out in a bathroom stall. Eventually the introvert in me liked the opportunity to get away because of breastfeeding or pumping and it got easier until I was a little sad when I finally weaned him.
— Anne G.
I loved the way it helped me feel close with my babies. With my youngest I breastfeed 14 or 15 months and I just hated that I couldn’t sit down with her until after she was weaned or she would just expect to be fed, I hate that it’s exhausting! And now my boobs are deflated lol
— Megan P.
If you have to pump often, buy extra parts because washing and sanitizing them is a such a chore. I had 8 of each piece so I wasn’t obligated to wash all the time but did big batches every other day or so.
— Taissa G.
Newborn nursing sessions make for the sweetest pictures

Newborn nursing sessions make for the sweetest pictures

back when leo would take a bottle from big brother max

back when leo would take a bottle from big brother max

milk I donated 3 days after leo was born. in total I have donated over 300 oz to date

milk I donated 3 days after leo was born. in total I have donated over 300 oz to date

Leo- 4 Months Old

Leo is a completely different baby than he was a few weeks ago. He is going through so many developmental changes at one time and it incredible how fast he is growing. For once in my life I find myself saying "slow down" and don't want the baby stage to end. Believe it or not he is already scooting/crawling. He mainly uses his knees and throws himself forward to get whatever toy he has his eyes on. Calvin and Max were early crawlers and walkers but Leo is setting a whole new record. Leo is up for about 1.5 hours before needing a nap and goes down super easy. We sing him the Gloria Patri, turn on the sound machine, leave the room and he is out within 5 minutes. His reflux is getting better but is still present. The other two boys outgrew it around the 6/7 month mark so we shall see if he follows suit. 

We have his 4 month check up in a few weeks and are anxious to see just how much he has grown. Leo is the perfect mix of Nick and I and we always comment on how thankful we are that he is part of our family. 


Leo's 4 Month Old Stats

Weight: 16.5 lbs (taken on home scale)

Diapers: Size 3

Clothes: 6-9 months

Eats: Leo is nursing every 2-3 hours during the day and still refuses the bottle

Sleep: 4 naps a day and sleeping through the night (most nights) He has been going down at 8:30 PM each night and we are hoping to put him down by 7:30 PM like his brothers in the next few weeks here. 

Likes: Scooting, toys, his brothers, bath time, music, and being worn in his Solly or Ergo

Dislikes: being overtired, bottles, being on his back for too long, bright lights, his car seat, reflux, and loud sudden noises


Gina's 4 Month Postpartum Stats

Weight: 4lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight

Sleep:  I have been getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night

Clothes: I fit into all of my old tops but still cannot button my old pants ;)

Likes: I like when Leo goes down and sleeps through the night, La Croix lime, pedicures, walks alone at sunset, and sitting outside at night time with Nick

Dislikes: daily anxiety, ants, Leo's blowouts, decision-making, grocery shopping and heat

I am still on anxiety and postpartum depression medicine but am seeing my OB and a postpartum doctor in regards to switching brands since the one I am currently on is giving me awful vivid nightmares. We are going to see if we can start tampering me off of meds and are also going to talk about my raised anxiety. I know having 3 kids is a lot of work and many moms have anxiety from balancing it all but I trust that my providers will help me make a good plan of action. I am often asked how I am doing but it is hard to answer that question.  I don't  like the fact that I need to be on this medication but at the same time am thankful that it allows me to not go throuh dark days like I did with Calvin. God is showing me each day areas of life that I need to surrender to Him and has blessed me with so many encouraging friends who help me walk through the joys and trials of marriage and motherhood.


the unexpected and transitions.

Here I am writing 4.5 years after first experiencing postpartum depression to tell you that I feel as though I am going through it yet again. I have never been someone who adapted well to change or the unexpected and with this third sweet boy I am having hard time with both the unexpected and the transition to being a mom of 3 boys!

Leo has a tongue tie that will be revised via laser early next week. This might not seem like a big deal to most and was something I thought other moms exaggerated about in the past. The hard thing is that on top of caring for my two older boys I question my every move when feeding Leo.

Having nursed both boys for over a year I assumed this third time around would be a breeze. I even planned to nurse in my baby carrier and really take on the whole mom to three kids role. Unfortunately, our feeding situation currently looks like this (it gives me anxiety even writing about it):

  • Leo wakes and nurses 10 min on one side and then screams and spits up everywhere
  • Nurses the other side and repeats the crying and spitting up (reflux, the painful kind)
  • I give Leo a bottle of pumped milk because he is rooting around like a starving kid
  • More burping, crying, and spitting up
  • I pump and clean parts and bottles
  • Burp some more
  • Put him back down for a nap

Repeat this 8-10 times a day.

The hard part is that I feel guilty for spending so much time on one feeding while not giving the other boys any attention and also it is a lot of work having a 3 step feeding process. After his laser procedure we will have to do a lot of stretches to make him more efficient at emptying me out when nursing and the thought of not knowing how everything will pan out makes me really uneasy. I know God has chosen me to be their mom specifically but  I believe most of us moms can relate to the fact that not knowing what your baby needs is a very hard pill to swallow. 

I did not expect to have to go through another rough go of breastfeeding, I did not expect to go through so many dark emotions yet again, and I did not expect to ever have a baby who loves his bottle. 

There has been a lot of sweet and memorable moments over these past 2.5 weeks. Every time the older boys are playing nicely together or offering to help me I am reminded how short this phase of life is. But the reality is I think society tells us how wonderful this new phase is and for some women, like myself, this is the hardest transition we will go through. Yes, newborns are so sweet and they only stay small for so long but it is also a major time in the moms life. We have to heal emotionally, physically, and spiritually all the while caring for a household, husband, kids, and lets not forget ourselves.

I hope I am not scaring anyone here who might not be a mom yet. I just want to be open and honest with the fact that although some women love the unexpected and the transition into the fourth trimester, there are some of us who it simply does not come easy to. Thankfully, this time around I knew when and where to get and ask for help. Hoping to have time to write more on how our life has changed and how our routines are also changing to better fit the 5 of us.