national breastfeeding week

At some point I'll write the stories of how my babies came to be, but right now I want to skip all that and jump to breastfeeding.

My Instagram feed has been flooded this week with the most beautiful pictures of Mamas and their babies, as it usually is. This week the highlight has been breastfeeding because it's national breastfeeding week.

First off let me just tell you how much I support and respect this way to feed your babies. Seriously, it's a sacrifice, it's a lot of work, and y'all are amazing. I think you should be able to feed your babies anywhere, literally, absolutely anywhere, and the only thing you should get is support. Even if people see all you have going on, because what you have going on is a completely natural and beautiful nourishing relationship with your baby. Babies don't always like covers. Sometimes it's hot. Also, you're fighting a battle to normalize something that is completely normal. You might want to breastfeed with no cover because that's easiest and the best way for you. Every way is a good way. You deserve respect and you deserve people to let you be, and definitely not shame about having your breast uncovered. If someone has issue, it's their eyes... avert. I stand with you.

All that said. I've never had a "successful" breastfeeding experience, and I likely won't.

I'm pregnant with our fourth sweet baby, and we've done this three times now. With each baby, I've had little to no supply, and my milk never "came in". I still don't even know what that means. I never experienced "let down". My boobs stayed the same size they've always been. I don't put those terms in quotes because I doubt their existence. I know how it works, I read the books. I've seen mama friends deal with all of that. I've seen them experience the pain of bad latches and mastitis, and the joy of finally knowing your milk is there, pumping ten ounces on the spot, and all is well. When it works, it's beautiful.

It's just that it doesn't always work. When you're in that chair, trying the football hold and any other you can remember from Le Leche, it's different than reading it, and it's different than watching your friend. It's your baby screaming it's sweet pink head off now. My nurses told me I was a pro at the C pinch latch thingy, it's been a while and I don't remember technical terms. When my second boy was born and went to the NICU, I met with four lactation consultants and all said there was nothing else that I could be doing on top of what I already was.

My boobs just didn't cut it for my babies. There are a lot more details, and maybe I'll speak more to that another day. Right now, I just want to tell you Mamas who've been unable to breastfeed... I've been there.

While I still hold that breastfeeding is an amazing and natural thing. It isn't always best. Sometimes it's just not. Sometimes you know that without even trying. We are walking into the last half of this pregnancy, and we are pretty sure that we won't even try with this girl. Because our history tells us that this isn't what's best for our family, and that's okay.

It was so painful when I had to let it go the first time, it was equally painful but less shameful the second time. When we are had our third, I knew that he needed more, and I knew that I didn't have it in me to fight for something that I was sure I was going to lose at.

If you've been here, and you're seeing the beautiful pictures of mamas with their babies at their breast, and it's hurting your heart a bit, you're not alone. If you're seeing them and you feel like they're shoving the best way down your throat, (been there at a more painful time) they aren't trying to do that. They're sharing part of their story. Just like you can share yours. I remember posting that first bottle feeding picture and getting messages and questions about what happened to breastfeeding, along with all the tips I had already tried. That's hard. I get it... but ultimately what they think or say, no matter how well meaning, just doesn't matter that much. You have to do the best thing for your baby and your family and for you. Sometimes the most natural thing doesn't work, and something new becomes the most natural thing for you.

You're not doing this the easy way. I would have loved to not have to make a bottle in the middle of the night. I would have loved to just feed my baby with no equipment to remember. You're doing this a different way. Not an easier way, not a lesser way, you're doing this a different way. You did it a different way, and it's so completely okay.

When you parent, it's all left on the floor. You put it all out there. You give every single thing you have... whether you breastfeed, have a natural birth, co sleep, sleep train, cloth diapers, disposables, schedule your birth, if you throw the Pinterest party, or pick up a cake at Wal-Mart. When you give up one thing, all the energy from that thing, goes into something else. You aren't choosing the easy way, you're directing that energy into something else.

No matter how you did it, no matter how you're doing it, you're doing a great job... and there is so much past whatever mothering thing is hanging you up today. It's bigger than the party, how you feed them, it's bigger than you snapping at them this morning, it's bigger than take out pizza instead of making dinner. It always will be, there will always be more to put your energy into.

When something just isn't going the way you hoped it would, when you have to wave the white flag, when you finally have to accept that extra dose of grace you tell your friends about, put that energy into loving your people... that energy is never wasted.


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