HOCKING HILLS BREASTFEEDING AWARENESS PROJECT | Andrea + Myra

“I am a mother of 3 and had my first two children at a young age. When my first son was born I was only 19 and thought breastfeeding would be a piece of cake, therefore leaving me unprepared for what followed. I did next to no research and as a result I was unsuccessful in breastfeeding him, at all. I felt like a failure, I had no clue it would be actual work. He was given a bottle by nursing staff at the hospital prior to even attempting to nurse. He never did latch successfully and after 2 frustrating tear-filled weeks I gave up. I felt like a total failure. Fast forward to 12 years later, my breastfeeding journey with my new baby has been completely opposite! My OB and I formulated a birth plan that specified my wishes. As a result I was able to nurse within an hour of Myra’s birth. She latched beautifully and successfully. It was pure magic! I had such a sense of relief when she latched and of course my milk came in without a hitch. What I didn’t expect was to feel so tied down. At home I was nursing her upwards of 6 hours a day! I felt like my body was not my own, but rather I existed for her source of nourishment. And although I knew I was doing what was best for her it was still exhausting. I refused to give up and received many words of encouragement from my husband, Chris. He always told me how amazing my body was to provide for our daughter and how jealous he was of our bonding. He was right, my body IS amazing and I was soaking up every bit of our snuggle time when nursing. I know he was envious of our closeness we share during feeding, longing to experience it too. After 6 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding and organizing life around her nursing schedule, we introduced the bottle. I had to return to work 8 weeks postpartum so we had to get her used to drinking from a bottle for a babysitter. I pumped and she drank my milk from the bottle. She took the first bottle we gave her like a champ, which was a relief as well. Except pumping is harder than nursing. When nursing Myra I take in the shape of her delicate facial features, her soft skin, tiny fingers wrapped around mine and the intoxicating baby smell. When pumping, I’m hiding in a room by myself with the awful machine trying to time it perfectly between feeding so I can get enough milk and still produce enough for the next feeding as well. It too was exhausting. I stockpiled breast milk in the deep freeze and had about 50 oz before my first day of work. Pumping at work proved to be even more difficult. My employer accommodated a break during my lunch to pump, but it was impossible to break away before and after lunch. As a result my supply dropped drastically in a matter of a couple weeks. It was devastating. Around 12 weeks we introduced formula for supplementation. Just like latching and the bottle before she adjusted like a champ, thank goodness my little lady loves to eat. Myra is now 5 months old and we enjoy our bedtime and morning nursing sessions daily. When Myra was born I made it a goal to nurse her at least 6 months. I fully intend to meet my goal and possibly exceed it, even if it isn’t exactly how I pictured me meeting that goal. In an ideal world, she would still be exclusively breastfed, but I still consider us to be successful. We are doing what works for us which is what is most important. I love the flexibility I get with supplementing. I’m not feeling stuck to a pump, but still providing Myra with essential nutrients formula cannot while snuggling with my sweet girl. My goal is to let other mothers know breastfeeding does not have to be an all or nothing thing! I think our society puts so pressure on us as women and mothers to “do it all and be it all” to our partners, children, employers and friends. We are allowed to be human and have our own needs. Had I continued to pump and exclusively breastfeed I think I would have given up by now. The scheduling between work, home, and other kids became too complex to continue on that path so we forged a new one. One that is uniquely ours and I’m extremely grateful to have.”
-Andrea