My journey started in 2010. I was only seventeen when I gave birth to my first baby, a boy. I hadn’t exactly done my research per say, but I am smart enough to know breastfeeding was the best option. I gave it a try and it was going well so I thought. Two weeks in and I had been having latch issues. I started hand expressing into his mouth during the day but then I couldn’t get him to latch back on.
I called the lady from our health department that ran a program called hugs and had come to see me bi weekly for health tips etc. throughout my pregnancy. She came to my house to watch me nurse. She told me that he had what was called a “lazy latch” and decided he wasn’t going to latch for feeding. I decided that I’d exclusively pump so that he was still getting my breastmilk. I was able to do so for two months before I felt it was too much on me and I switched to formula.
In 2013 I gave birth to a daughter. I again tried breastfeeding and it was going great. Three weeks into our journey she got thrush then I got thrush. We passed it back and forth and back and forth. I chose to switch to formula just to get out of the cycle. When we were finally clear I attempted to restart breastfeeding. Sadly she too would no longer latch. I was young, uneducated and had no family support other than my husband. I had no knowledge of lactation consultants so I kept her on formula as well. I think I did really good being seventeen then nineteen. I also had never been around or seen anyone breastfeed.
Fast forward to 2015 I was pregnant with our third child (another daughter) I was older and determined to successfully breastfeed. I researched throughout my entire pregnancy. I learned so many things I had never even thought of with my prior babies. I gave birth October 13th 2014. She immediately latched and not once gave me a problem. I thought boy this is too easy. About three weeks in I felt like I was having supply issues. I was able to use my new vast knowledge. I knew what I could do to increase my supply! By following tips and tricks I had learned I was able to regain my milk. We had no other issues after that. It was a lot of work and it was tiring but I did it!
In the fall of 2015 I found out I was expecting our fourth child and third girl. I was a little sad thinking I’d have to stop breastfeeding my third. Thankfully my supply only dipped. I did not dry up until my third trimester when it still only turned to colostrum. I was glad that I didn’t fully “dry up” as my daughter was 16 months and she was still nursing at nap and bedtimes. I gave birth to my fourth on may 6th 2016 and my third who was 18 months had nursed just the night before!
My fourth like my third immediately latched and gave me no issues. I was so happy and so relieved. When I went home from the hospital I had not intended for my third to nurse as I never even thought about tandem feeding nor have any knowledge of it. Not surprisingly she wanted to continue nursing so I just let her on the opposite breast.
It would help me relieve milk as I was not pumping and had a very heavy supply. I truly enjoyed tandem feeding, my third child would hold the new babies hand while they nursed it was the cutest thing. She decided to self wean one day out of nowhere about two months into tandem nursing. She was twenty months old.
I had no idea I’d make it that long breastfeeding! I was sad that our journey had ended but at the same time was very satisfied in knowing I had nourished her with the very best for not only the first year of her life but almost two! I had initially set the goal for just 6 months and then 12 months. I mean I only had gone weeks with my previous two children. As I mentioned earlier I had no family that had ever breastfed and my husband’s family didn’t breastfeed either. Not a single one. So you can imagine the comments I got once my third had hit a year. I was told multiple times it was time to stop. I would be asked all the time “you’re STILL breastfeeding her? It’s time to stop”. I am glad I didn’t listen to them and that I followed my heart. I’m happy we shared that bond for 20 months.
My fourth was supposed to be our last. As she was the baby I set a goal of two years this time. So when she was two and still nursing and was showing no signs of wanting to wean I kept going. Why not right? We were 27 months in when she finally weaned… BUT I was pregnant SURPRISE! I had had no intentions on having a fifth child and we were expecting our FOURTH daughter! The thought of starting another breastfeeding journey made me a little emotional. I had been breastfeeding for what felt like forever already and thought that my journey was almost over. My fourth child weaned in August 2018. At this time I still produced quite a bit of colostrum so I did not consider that much of a break when I gave birth to our fifth just three months later on November 16th, 2018.
I was clearly not new to the game and was able to get her to latch immediately. I thought it was going to be smooth sailing. She instead went into respiratory distress and was rushed to the NICU.
We spent five long days there where she was tube fed. I feared for sure we would be unable to continue our breastfeeding journey. She was finally taken off oxygen on day four. When I brought her to my breast she immediately latched as if the four days away had never occurred. I was so overwhelmed with joy and praise. Breastfeeding was such a big deal to me by now and I did not want to stop . We went home and things were going well.
One day she started to fight at every feeding. I found that she would only nurse straight on top of me while I laid back yet she would still arch and scream sometimes. We discovered she had reflux. It was exhausting and frustrating for both of us but I was not going to let obstacles get in our way. I had done my research and read that it can sometimes just go away on it’s own around three months. So I pushed through being strong for both of us. I told myself one more month, just one more month, then sure enough like a snap of fingers at three months it was just gone and she was latching and feeding with no issues. I was not letting anything stop me from giving her the best I possibly could. October 13th 2019 made it 5 years of breastfeeding for me with a span of three children and not a single bottle and no pumping. 5 years of exclusively breastfeeding straight from the tap. Sometimes I ask myself how I managed? Sometimes I asked myself if this was all I’ll ever do?
My youngest is 16 months old now and still going strong. In fact she LOVES her “chi chi’s” and I have no clue when she’ll wean! This is 100% our last child as my husband had a vasectomy. I soak in every day as I know that when it’s over it’s over! It has been a beautiful, emotional, and exhausting bonding experience that I will forever cherish.
It will definitely be bittersweet when the day comes that my little no longer asks for her “chi chi’s”. I am happy and at peace with it though. I have had a long and successful journey and as I look back at the beginning and wonder what I could have done differently I see myself now and see how far I came from the young woman with no support to someone who has become the support! I have helped a young mom make it to three months of successfully breastfeeding her son. She said to me, if it weren’t for me she wouldn’t have even made it three days. I wish I could go back and help myself, I truly do. I know can’t but what I can do is continue to tell my story, help other mothers young and older that are struggling in hopes that they can overcome obstacles if they just persevere.
As of today I have breastfed for 5 years 5 months and 12 days! Thats an Opal, and almost a silver Boobie Award! I also earned a blue diamond Boobie Award for Tandem Breastfeeding!