Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Month!
I don’t think I’ve actually sat down and thanked you for all your hard work when the kids were babies. Although it’s been a couple of years since M weaned, when I think about all the hard work we did together, it still brings both a smile and a shake of my head. Honestly, I can’t believe we exclusively fed two babies for almost two years each!
The start of my breastfeeding journey
When R was born, I had no idea if I was going to be able to breastfeed or not. I borrowed an electric pump, but I was also open to the fact that I would buy formula if needed. By the way, there’s nothing with formula! I just wasn’t sure what way our feeding journey would go. I just set my mind to doing my best, and then bahala na.
Ignorance is bliss, so after giving birth to R and the nurse in the hospital kept on asking me if his diaper was wet already, I just said nope and moved on to whatever I was doing. I didn’t realize she was asking to check if he was getting enough breastmilk. I honestly only realized months later what her question meant. After she asked me a few times, his diaper was finally wet and that was that. If I had realized she was asking to check on his milk intake, I probably would have panicked and asked for formula immediately! Since I didn’t know, we just went back to attempting to breastfeed.
When you’re ready to give up…
Boobs, we were truly frenemies. I had to go back to the hospital lactation unit after we were discharged to ask for help with my baby’s latch. I attended a live breastfeeding support group where us moms whipped out our boobs in front of each other and latched our babies (and none of us cared) so that the breastfeeding experts could check how we were doing, I read countless blogs in the middle of the night, drank liters of malunggay juice and Milo, and had lactation massages. It was hard! I thought of giving up countless times.
Despite all this, from my initial goal of one month of exclusive breastfeeding, it became three months, six months, a year, until we finally weaned after two years. Thanks to you, we never had to spend on formula for R or bring bottles when we travelled. I also apologize for the single manual pump I used on you three times a day. It must have hurt, but it gave me more milk than the electric pump. You’ve never recovered, I know. I can see it everyday.
It eventually got easier
When M came along three years later, it was slightly easier. I wasn’t as stressed or pressured. I knew I could breastfeed and I also knew how hard it could be. With M, the breastfeeding journey was different. M had such a strong and painful latch and made a clicking sound when she was breastfeeding. After a few confused weeks, M’s tongue tie was clipped and it helped a little. Every breastfeeding journey is different, even for the same mom (and the same boobs).
Those painful moments…
Boobs, I’m sure you also remember how painful it was when you would get engorged and as hard as a rock. Or a golf ball. It just felt like you were so heavy and hard. Only other moms (and fellow engorged boobs) know how this feels. Luckily, we got through that phase of breastfeeding as well with a lot of patience. Do you remember when you would have to work all the time, any time? Like when I would make M sleep, and I would have to rock her while I was standing, WHILE she was breastfeeding? Thanks for all your hard work.
Oh, and thank you also for giving us enough breastmilk with M that we needed to buy an extra freezer and we were able to share our milk with other babies! It was so different from R when whatever I pumped at work today was just enough for tomorrow. Either way, you were able to feed my babies, whether I had more than enough milk or just the right amount. With M, I knew I wanted to breastfeed for at least a year again. We reached a year and a half! Shorter than with R, but we (you and me) both needed a break already. I remember savoring and enjoying breastfeeding with M more because I knew it was (most likely) the last time I would ever breastfeed.
Thank you for everything
Even with all the pumping, latching, sleepless nights, hard-as-rock boobs, milk-stained shirts, I am so happy I was able to work with you to feed our babies. When I reached the one year with R, I was so proud of myself. I realized that a woman’s body is truly amazing. Although you will never look the same as you did before I first got pregnant, I wouldn’t trade you for any other pair. You fed my babies and gave them comfort when they needed it. That’s more important to me than having a nice cleavage.
For moms who are currently breastfeeding, don’t stress! Just do your best. I know it’s really really really hard, but it’s worth it. If it doesn’t work out, don’t stress as well. One thing I realized is that you really need to have the desire to breastfeed for a chance of doing it successfully. If you don’t want to (which is also completely fine!), you’re more likely to mix feed or switch to formula earlier. All breastfeeding journeys are different, but the love of moms for their babies are all the same.
Again, thanks, boobs! You did well and I’ll always appreciate you for nourishing my babies 24/7, day in and day out.
Exclusively breastfed two kids for almost 3 and a half years collectively