I will start this post by saying I understand and empathize that not all women can or even want to breastfeed. I am so grateful, that despite any hurdles I was able to breastfeed both my babies for as long as I wanted to. With very few issues, sure there were tons of bumps, tears, and even blood along the way, it was overall a beautiful breastfeeding journey.
My story starts back in June of 2017 when I got pregnant with my first baby, which means that I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for 5 years straight, with no breaks in between. I honestly did not think my pregnancy and breastfeeding journey would last that long. Now, I did not breastfeed during my entire second pregnancy but I did breastfeed leading up to it and for the first trimester. In hindsight, the past 5 years flew by and at times I do get a bit sad knowing my breastfeeding journey has come to an end.
Although we prepared for this and I knew going in that we planned to have two children, and when trying to get pregnant again the thought of starting over while I was still breastfeeding was beyond overwhelming at times. My highs vs. lows list doesn’t compete nor show the whole picture, that’s why I am putting it all down here. It’s a journey and commitment that is not easy, but totally worth it.
In case you missed it: Our Baby Led Weaning Journey
My Highs on my Breastfeeding Journey
-My boob size, seriously I had the best breasts while I was breastfeeding!
-Feeding my baby day in and day out and being able to provide the nutrients she needed was an amazing feeling
-The first latch when your milk comes in and I heard my baby hungrily gulping
-Being able to soothe my baby anywhere, (almost) instantly
-Knowing that no matter what I was doing my best for my baby by breastfeeding her
The Lows of my Breastfeeding Journey
-Cracked and bleeding nipples
-Clogged milk ducts
-Nursing next to a snoring husband
-Pumping in bathrooms
-Crying over spilled milk (literally shed tears more than once when this happened)
-Stressing over milk supply
-Dealing with reflex and watching my baby spit up everything she just ate
Why I Breastfed
Honestly, I never thought I would not breastfeed, I assumed it would come easily and naturally to me. Luckily most of my breastfeeding journey came “easily” to me and my baby. In no way at all was it easy, some days were easier than others, but after almost 4 years of breastfeeding was nothing but easy. I knew breastfeeding was the best possible way to feed, bond, and nourish my child, not to mention keep them as healthy as possible.
I am grateful that we had such an amazing breastfeeding journey and that I was able to feed both of my babies for so long. Many other women have breastfed for longer than I have and I bow down to them as I know the physical, emotional, and mental strain that a woman has to take on to breastfeed for that long. Lastly, knowing that my baby was telling my body exactly what she needs through my breastmilk was an amazing feeling. Since the baby’s saliva transfers to your body and then your body produces any antibodies or whatever else they might need.
In case you missed it: My Mom Bod & Proud Of It!
Getting Pregnant on my Breastfeeding Journey
So, I am one of those lucky women, who’s cycle comes back early despite exclusively breastfeeding. With my first my period came back after 16 weeks postpartum, it started on the last day of my maternity leave before returning to work…yup that was as fun as it sounds! After my second child, it returned after only 8 weeks, right back to my very regular 28-day cycle.
We were lucky and able to get pregnant right away with our first child and I naively assumed that would happen with our second. It didn’t and for so many various reasons, at one point I was hoping to have 2 kids under 2! We started trying again when our first was only 13 months old, I was still breastfeeding on demand and pumping at work, that first month that I got my period I was pretty sad about it. The second month I was hoping I wasn’t pregnant as I realized maybe I wasn’t quite ready to have another baby so soon.
Between breastfeeding on demand, working full time, and having a baby not sleep consistently I wanted a couple of months off. So we decided to take the next month off, it worked out perfectly that the month we skipped would have had both of our children’s birthdays super close together. So, I started to enjoy myself again and started to wean my baby. For whatever reason cutting out the last feed of the day before bed worked for both my children. I cut that one out first and worked backward so the first feed of the day was the last one I cut out. Often it seems to be the other way around, but that worked great for both of my babies during our breastfeeding journey.
Fast forward a few more months and I still had not gotten pregnant, finally, I was ready and it wasn’t happening. I think part of it was stress, which causes my cycle to be off a couple of days each month which meant we were missing our prime ovulation window. In August of 2018, I went down to one time a day nursing my baby, and bam the next month we got pregnant! Not saying this was the sole reason why we got pregnant that month, but that was the only drastic difference during our breastfeeding journey and caused a positive pregnancy test the following month.
In case you missed it: Going From 1 Kids to 2 Kids
At this time my oldest was 18 months and I continued to breastfeed her until she was about 20 months old. I was so ready to be done with it because I knew how much more my body was in for with pregnancy, postpartum, and another breastfeeding journey. Her weaning was so very gentle, I had a replacement consultation beverage in replace of breastmilk and relied heavily on my husband at this time as I was in tears multiple times trying to wean her. I also knew that I wanted to fully wean her before my breasts became tender and breastfeeding would no longer be enjoyable or comfortable for me.
Weaning my second child took MUCH longer, circumstances were very different as well. She was only in daycare and bottle fed pumped milk for a few months. Before she was 6 months old, I was back home full time and then we were all home full time. So, it was “harder” to not breastfeed her when she wanted it. She breastfed till right before her 2nd birthday, which in the back of my mind was the end time for me.
In case you missed it: My Experience With Postpartum Anxiety
Thank you for sharing a part of My Beautiful Chaos!
To this day she is completely enamored with my breasts and, will ask to see them, give them a little love and when I tell her to say bye bye because they are going away she will say “bye bye boobies” and blow kisses at them. Recently, when she was sick she asked for breastmilk, and I would have given it to her as her little body knew it could help, but I am dried up. It was a bittersweet moment that our breastfeeding journey got us to the point where she knew when she needed it, I was a bit sad in that moment but quickly realized how much I gave to her and that’s why she even thought to ask for it.
This post has been a long time coming, I started this in the beginning of the year and just now FINALLY publishing it. It is very long and I know not for everyone, but I also wrote it for myself to see where we have come and to be thankful for my breasts that are now a size they haven’t been in over 5 years. I will admit that was a transition for me as I felt as if they were so small when the milk was gone! However, they are now I am back to my old bras and smaller yet still pretty perky boobs!