Breastfeeding was much more difficult than I'd ever imagined. I tried my best with my first two babies, but for various reasons, I continued to struggle until ultimately, I gave up. When my third baby came around, I was determined to give it one more shot. Deep down I assumed breastfeeding would be as unsuccessful as my first two attempts were, but thankfully I was wrong and it turned out to be a wonderfully positive experience. Breastfeeding the third time around was definitely a charm. Breastfeeding her changed everything I thought and felt breastfeeding dramatically. I went from thinking that my body just wasn't ever going to cooperate, to understanding that I had to teach my body and baby what to do. A lot of things helped me get into a groove with breastfeeding, including the life-changing help of the lactation consultant at the hospital post-birth. She gave me guides to take home and answered every question I had without judgment of any kind.
My first night in the hospital after my third child was born was idyllic. My daughter breastfed like a champ right from the start. She latched correctly right away and seemed to understand what to do even more than I did. The next night she started cluster-feeding, which is basically feeding often to get my body's supply ready. The nurses were wonderful and helped address all of my concerns about breastfeeding immediately. They offered me encouragement and taught me how to listen to my babies cues. When I got home, I decided to take their advice to not give her a bottle or pacifier for the first four weeks, and boy, am I glad I did. My third baby changed breastfeeding for me and I finally I was able to actually enjoy it.
With my first two children, breastfeeding became something I viewed as my own personal failure. No matter what I tried, breastfeeding was just miserable and painful for me. My first son had jaundice, which didn't help, and after the first few weeks I ended up at the doctor with Mastitis. After that I immediately weaned, but always felt a tremendous amount of guilt for the fact that I didn't "try harder" to make breastfeeding work for us.
My third time around, however, was definitely a charm, and breastfeeding finally started to feel like the tranquil bonding experience I'd long hoped for.
Then, when my second son came along, I was determined to get into a groove with breastfeeding, but after another jaundice diagnosis and extreme exhaustion from chasing a toddler while trying to breastfeed, I threw in the towel even sooner. The guilt and feelings of defeat followed me for a long time. I wondered why other moms seemed to love breastfeeding and to have such an easier time with it than I did. I didn't think I'd ever breastfeed again — that is, until years later when I found out I was expecting baby number three.
My daughter showed me the joys of breastfeeding from the very beginning. I finally understood what it was supposed to be and feel like. I mean, don't get me wrong, I had moments of joy breastfeeding my two older children, but for the most part it end up painful and frustrating. My third time around, however, was definitely a charm, and breastfeeding finally started to feel like the tranquil bonding experience I'd long hoped for.
The fact that she didn't have jaundice obviously helped a lot, too. I was also at a pro-breastfeeding hospital this time around, which offered lots of great resources to help me with my breastfeeding journey. The nurses gave me such a wonderful support system from day one. They even gave me helpful tips to try and avoid Mastitis this time around, which I followed to a T. And when I got home from the hospital with my daughter, my milk came in and I took the nurses advice not to pump, use bottles, or pacifiers for a month until our breastfeeding relationship was well established. To my total shock, breastfeeding was going wonderfully and I found myself greatly enjoying it.
In the past I'd felt consumed by my guilt, but this time I checked my guilty feelings at the door. I took comfort in my successes, not my failures. My goal was to make it to three months and I made it five months. It may not sound very impressive, but for me it was huge victory.
More than anything, I was proud of myself for giving it one final shot.
I never knew there were so many resources available to me for help and support. I didn't realize that breastfeeding could be so wonderful and easy. I'm so grateful for the support I had this time around and I felt great about finally not only meeting my goal, but surpassing it. Eventually, my body seemed to start weaning on its own though and I was unable to continue. I started to get much less milk out and even though milk increasing supplements seemed to help a little at first, my body was not making enough for her. She was hungry after a feeding and I had to start giving her formula when she was 5 months old. In the past I'd felt consumed by my guilt, but this time I checked my guilty feelings at the door. I took comfort in my successes, not my failures. My goal was to make it to three months and I made it five months. It may not sound very impressive, but for me it was huge victory.
I finally got to experience the wonders of breastfeeding I'd heard other women brag about. It took two babies and two difficult experiences to get to a place of joy, but once I got there it completely changed my perspective. I felt just as connected to my first two children, but this breastfeeding thing was definitely offering a special bond I really adored with my daughter.
Now when I look back on breastfeeding, I only see the good moments. I focus on where I went right and leave behind the things I probably did wrong. I let go of the guilt and just accept each experience for what they were. My third baby not only taught me how to breastfeed the right way, she taught me how to forgive myself for giving up early the first two times around. I wanted to experience the joys of breastfeeding so badly and I yearned to look down on my baby with calm delight. And I finally did.