This weekend I not only celebrated Hunters half birthday but the fact that I've made it through 6 months of breastfeeding. As anyone whose had a baby (or researched having a baby) knows breastfeeding can be HARD. It's also exhausting and time consuming and a huge commitment. I knew from the the moment I saw that positive pregnancy test that I wanted to breastfeed however I also knew that for a lot of women it can be incredibly difficult and often even impossible to do for an extended period of time. As with my labor I tried to keep an open mind and not get my heart set on a specific timeline for fear of disappointment and mommy guilt if it didn't work out.
But I'm happy to say that for the past 6 months, every single day of Hunters life, he has received at least some breastmilk (or colostrum in the early days). And to me this is a HUGE accomplishment.
Fortunately for me Hunter has always been a great eater, he latched without any problems and never had issues going back and forth between the boob and the bottle, breastmilk or formula. Kid just loves to eat, he's not picky. I was lucky. Very lucky. A lot of women don't have it as easy.
Even though I had it easy, all things considered, it's still been a challenge, especially after I went back to work. I have to lug my pump to and from work everyday and make sure I take the time to pump 2-3 times a day. I'm lucky that I have my own office that I can pump in and I'm not forced to go into the bathroom or a closet like some women. I'm fortunate that I have very supportive coworkers that have never once given me a hard time about it. Again, not a lot of women are in that same position, which is sad.
It's also been a challenge to make sure that I either nurse or pump every few hours to not only keep up my supply but also keep from getting painfully engorged. As much as I love it when Hunter sleeps through the night, since I don't get up and pump, I wake up about 2 cup sizes bigger looking like a boob job gone wrong and not even able to sleep on my stomach it hurts so bad.
Whenever I make plans I always have to think ahead about when I will need to nurse or pump again and make sure that I'm never away from either Hunter or my pump for more than 5 hours or I will be in a decent amount of pain.
Has it been inconvenient at times? Sure. Has it been painful at times? Yep! Has it been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done? Absolutely! With the exception of one ear infection (most likely due to teething) he also hasn't really been sick. And I attribute that in large part to breastfeeding especially given that large number of daycare germs he's around all day. I know because I've been sick basically the entire time he's been in daycare.
My kid is huge. People always comment on how big he is for his age. And everytime I hear that I smile inside because I did that. I've provided the primary nourishment that has allowed my child to grow big and healthy. My itty bitties that I always hated growing up have helped nourish my child.
I must also point out that from day one Hunter has also been supplemented with formula since I can't always keep up with his demand and I've never had a problem with that. I'm am by no means anti-formula. I know babies can and do grow and thrive just as well if they are formula fed so I have no problem giving it to my child. And if for some reason I had to stop giving him breastmilk tomorrow I know he would be just fine on formula.
I don't know how much longer Hunter will continue to get breastmilk, right now I'm just taking it day by day. He may decide to wean himself next week or six months from now. I would love to make it a year but if it doesn't happen I won't beat myself up about it, I've already made it longer than I thought I would. For the time being I'm just going to enjoy those moments I have with my son because I really do love nursing him (pumping not so much). I love the way he grabs my hands and stares at me while he eats. It's a bonding moment that I know I will miss whenever it comes to an end.