I was cleaning out my room a couple of weeks ago and found my breast pump under my bed. Although it’s been well over a year since I’ve used it, it brought back a flood of memories and emotions. It brought back the time I’d spent with each of my children. And how the journey was different with each of them.
I have fond memories of my breastfeeding journey throughout the years. With Harlan, everything was so new. I was learning so many new changes with my body while trying to navigate when to feed, where to feed, and how to feed. It was with Harlan that I was first told that my supply was inadequate. That I would never be able to produce enough to satisfy her. That I needed to supplement in order to make her gain the weight that would put her on the charts again. I was a first time mom and didn’t know any better. So I just went with what I was told. And it was heartbreaking.
While I didn’t give up on nursing, I did struggle balancing nursing and going back to work. My supply took a huge hit when I went back to work. I was hardly pumping anything and my stash of frozen milk was dwindling. I’d also heard that breastfeeding was natural. But if that was the case, why did it come so unnatural to me?
I pushed through the struggles and nursed Harlan for 13 months.
When Avery was born, I was determined to make it work. While I was told multiple times by her pediatrician that she wasn’t gaining enough weight, I wasn’t going to give in to the pressure. I wasn’t going to give up that easily. So despite numerous tests, blood work, doctor’s visits, all of which showed that Avery was completely healthy and meeting all developmental goals, we kept nursing. We’d go in for weight checks, I spoke with a lactation consultant, started eating more foods that would help my supply, and took supplements that would help as well. We made it well over 13 months exclusively breastfeeding. And that tiny girl that was barely on the chart because she wasn’t getting enough of my milk? She’s still tiny and barely on the chart. Because that’s just how she’s built.
After the struggles with the girls, I expected to have the same thing happen with Macks. Much to my surprise, for the first five months of his life he was gaining weight like a champ. He was well over the 50th percentile for both weight and height. I was bursting with excitement at each appointment. Finally, breastfeeding was easy and was no longer something I had to worry about. That was until we hit month six. Suddenly he dropped in the charts. Our pediatrician told me not to worry, but that we’d keep an eye on it. Over time he actually started to lose weight. Something that came so easy for us just weeks before, was now something I was couldn’t figure out how to make work.
But I didn’t want to give up. Not yet. I went in to our pediatrician’s office a few days a week for weight checks. I spoke with the lactation consultant who gave me a plan of action to increase my supply and also increase the amount of milk that Macks was getting. After a few weeks we started noticing a change. Not only was my supply increasing, but Macks’ weight was increasing as well. I sat at the doctor’s office in tears. Happy tears. Something that I worked so hard at, that we worked so hard at, was finally paying off.
I remember the last time that I nursed Macks. We both knew it was the last time. We were ready. I sat in the glider in his room and watched as he nursed. We looked at each other and I smiled at him. He only nursed for about five minutes that night. And that was it.
Everyone tells you the benefits of breastfeeding, but what they don’t tell you is the struggles that come with it. With each of my journeys, I constantly looked for products that would help ease my constant anxiety. Something that would help give me peace of mind. That’s why I love Momsense, The Smart Breastfeeding Meter. I can’t tell you how many times I’d sit in that doctor’s office for weight checks. I’d weigh Avery or Macks, nurse, then weigh again to see how much milk they got. The Smart Breastfeeding Meter comes with a microphone-embedded sensor, which is placed below baby’s earlobe and connects to earphones that you simply plug into your smart phone. Using the Momsense app, you can not only see what your baby is consuming, but hear it, as well. The app also tracks feedings, feeding habits, and growth. It would have saved me so many weight checks at the doctor’s office. And it would have saved me some stress too.
There are so many twists and turns in the journey of parenting. And my breastfeeding journey proved to be that way too. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I’d be thrown a curveball. But no matter how many obstacles I had, I found a way to push through them. That’s the beauty of parenting; you learn to expect the unexpected. And you also learn that you can make it through anything.