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

i am my own worst critic.

There is always talk about how moms put each other down and of the immense pressure put on moms to always meet expectations. It got me thinking about my own walk through motherhood and I realized something profound. I have never personally experienced anyone shaming me on what type of mom I am, and my husband and close family do not hold me to any unspoken standard either. 

I am my own worst critic. 

I hold myself to a standard that is hard to reach. The days that I'm most exhausted is due to setting myself up to reach this unattainable goal or when I am trying to become and be like someone I am not. In past posts I have opened up and spoke about how sometimes the mommy blog world is very much like Keeping Up with the Joneses, and in my case, this is only because I am the one trying to be this sort of make-believe superwoman. 

On the days I don't finish a task (like laundry, for example) or if dinner doesn't come out picture perfect, I put unnecessary pressure and guilt upon myself. I know it doesn't need to be there, but I put it on anyway. Each evening my husband is thankful for the time, sacrifice, and energy I pour into our home and kids and each evening my kids go to bed thinking I am pretty awesome. Why then do I often sit on the couch after bedtime and criticize everything I didn't do? 

It's mid-October and I have not made or tasted anything pumpkin. My kids are wearing hammy down Halloween costumes this year and I have no plans to give Max a 2nd birthday party next month. Normally, I would let this bother me because I have my own idea of what type of mom I want to be like. (In some sense I guess it does bother me since I am mentioning it.) The point is I will never find joy and satisfaction in what I do and the type of mom I am if I don't stop focusing on who I am not. 

If you are like me and find yourself always setting yourself up for failure, know that you are not alone. We are called to be mothers, wives, neighbors, and friends. There is no ultimate mom and just because your life might not be Instagram worthy most of the time does not mean you are not a good mother to your children. Our kids do not care how creative our meals are or how creative our art projects are. They care that we are present with them, spending time with them and feeding them. (That's especially true with my boys. Boy do they love to eat.)

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surrendering my control and pride.

I have come to realize that my controlling personality stems from pride. Every aspect of my life is critically planned, analyzed, and executed because I have a fear of not being in control of every situation. If you did not already see my previous post HERE, I am 13-weeks pregnant with our third baby. on the way Each pregnancy has been so unlike the other, but this one has been the hardest on me.

Around the 8 week mark I began to experience intense nausea, fatigue, and headaches. Unlike the migraines I experienced with Max (which seemed to occur certain times of the day), this lasts all day long. For the past five weeks our little love seat in the living room has been my new home. There are days when I rely so much on Calvin to get snacks ready or to help me with small tasks because I physically cannot do much of anything.

Nick, my mom, and my sister have been by my side since day one of all of this and could tell that I really am not feeling well. My normal demeanor is to go-go-go and I rarely complain about getting things done because it is in my nature to just get things done. I can remember way too many times when I would (and still do) ask one of them to help me buy groceries, cook dinner, clean the floors, or help with the boys. In my mind it was hard for me to ask for their help, not because I didn't think they were capable of doing it, but because they might not do it my way. 

To be honest, most of the time I think that my way of doing things is the right way. There really is no other way. I take pride in how I clean. I take pride in how my boys act. I take pride in my home. I take pride in how I organize. The problem with this mentality though is that when one of these things does not go as planned, I get depressed, sad, and feel like a failure. Trying to control all these areas in my life because of my pride places an unrealistic expectation upon myself and others. 

So while being on the couch sick is not fun at all, I am thankful that God has used this low point to show me those places in my heart that I need to surrender my pride. I am not always going to do things right and I am not always going to be well enough to ensure all my ways are perfectly executed. Pregnancy has always been a reminder to me that I am not in control of my life. There is no way for me to ensure the safety and health of our little baby growing inside of me, even with the best nutrition, rest, etc. etc. and it daily humbles me to know God will always be in control; not me. This also comforts me.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
— Proverbs 11:2
It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.
— Proverbs 16:19
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 My mom and great aunt cooking some healthy meals for me and the family. 

My mom and great aunt cooking some healthy meals for me and the family. 

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