Breastfeeding didn't come as naturally to me as the experiences I've heard some moms describe. After my son was born, I immediately began struggling with insecurity over whether I was doing it right. How much breast milk was my son getting? Was he getting enough? Was he latched on properly? Was I feeding him frequently enough? When I learned he wasn't gaining weight, I added guilt to the long list of emotions hijacking my first weeks postpartum and considered giving up altogether. But I'm so glad I stuck with it because recently I was able to enjoy the proudest moment of my breastfeeding journey, and it's one I never thought I'd reach.
I reflected on how my son was growing as a result of what my body could do. I was helping him thrive, completely independent of any outside help.
Flashback to a few weeks ago when I took my son to his first pediatrician's appointment, and our doctor expressed concern that he hadn't regained his birth weight. She showed me a chart indicating he was dangerously close to a worrying weight-loss zone. We left with strict instructions to up his feedings to every two hours, 24 hours a day, until he had reached the two-week point.
Nervous and exhausted and feeling completely inadequate about my ability to feed my son, I breastfed him as often as possible over the next several days. I found myself wondering if just supplementing with formula would be easier, especially since I couldn't tell if he was growing or not. But then one morning, I noticed his newborn clothes fitting a little more snugly. And when I sent a photo of him to my parents, my mom commented he looked bigger.
At my little guy's two-week doctor's visit, I felt hopeful when the nurse weighed him. Holding my breath, I watched the scale balance itself out and settle on a final reading. And guess what? My big boy had gained a whole pound! Um, would it be too much to do a victory dance right here in the doctor's office? I mentally flossed as we headed into the exam room and our doctor praised his weight gain.
On the way home from our appointment, I reflected on how my son was growing as a result of what my body could do. Not only had I carried and nourished him for nine months, but now, I was continuing to help him thrive, completely independent of any outside help. This was by far the most gratifying and empowering feeling I'd ever had breastfeeding or otherwise (other than giving birth, of course).
To other moms struggling with breastfeeding, I hope you get to experience a moment of pure pride over what you are capable of, like I did. I hope you will see your baby get bigger and stronger and realize that every stressful, painful, lonely, frustrating breastfeeding moment was totally worth it. Kind of like how once you first hold your healthy baby in your arms after a long and challenging pregnancy, you totally forget about the worry and fear and that time you puked in an office garbage bin, hoping no one could hear you. Or maybe that was just me . . .
In all seriousness, no one can deny breastfeeding can be trying and emotional. I learned it can also be satisfying as hell, and make you kinda want to floss for the whole world to see!