My Breastfeeding Journey

This is my only photo of Huck breastfeeding.. which makes me very sad!!

In honor of #nationalbreastfeedingweek here’s my story. 

From the very start, breast feeding was HARD AF. I was lucky though, Huck latched and just kept on latching. But he was also a very hungry baby who ate every two hours on the dot for 45 minutes. Yep, I spoke with a lactation consultant who gave me a few pointers. Yes, I asked multiple times why it took him so long to eat- ultimately that was just how he rolled.. so for the first 3-4 months of life that was my schedule day in and day out. Basically, all I did was breastfeed! That included overnight a lot of the time and mama never really got a break. All the pressure and warnings that if I didn’t pump enough or skipped too many feedings with a bottle I’d lose my supply, so although my husband was ready and willing to take any shift, I only skipped a few feedings. A few weeks in we started to have to supplement.. you’d think that changed things and make it easier but it really didn’t. Huck still took forever and still took a bottle after. Plus bottles took 5 seconds for him and wouldn’t help soothe him so even if we supplemented he’d want the boob anyway. I felt insane some days, especially when he was cluster feeding and because he wasn’t really sleeping I was losing my mind for reals. That’s another story though. 

I can’t tell you the amount of times I wanted to give up. I can’t even tell you why I didn’t. I probably should have. I got super comfy breastfeeding anywhere because with that tiny window it was either that or never leave the house. People didn’t get it. I’d have people say to me “it’s didn’t take that long for me” or “why do you let him eat that long.” Mom shaming comes in all forms and for me this was hard enough without everyone telling me I or even Huck wasn’t doing something right. But I knew him, and knew his rhythm, knew his cues, knew that was just who he was and how he ate. 

I still remember the day he first took only 25 mins to eat . We were in Disney World, and I guess the change in routine did us both some good. From that trip on breastfeeding got a whole lot shorter and easier. A world of difference compared to the beginning! I hurt less, took less time, and seemed to be easier to latch each time. For a few solid months we were rocking it. He was still every 2-2.5 hours, but taking way less time and mama had some freedom. We were exclusively breastfeeding for several months and doing great!

After that my supply dropped. I’m not entirely sure why, I never had an over supply and we struggled in the beginning to meet his needs. As I said he was a hungry boy! At his 7 month check up he hadn’t gained any weight. They weren’t too concerned as he had gotten a lot longer, but by the next appointment he had actually lost weight! I was devastated and felt like a terrible mom. You learn very early that mom guilt is real and comes on quickly and easily. We decided to supplement again and I came to a better place with knowing he was getting what he needed. Breast feeding was still a full time job and I felt like it was my sign from the universe that we could do both and it would be better for us both too.

Around 9.5 months Huck was completely disinterested in breastfeeding. We were at a point where he was mostly on formula but would still breastfeed for comfort and at night at times, but even at night he was starting to not care. We tried all the tricks to distract him less, but he was just over it. He basically weened himself and I was really ok with it. My goal was six months and I had made it to ten and I felt really good about that. If Huck had desired to go longer we would have made it work, but him and I both were at a place where we were ready to move on. At ten months he was completely weened. I was a little sad about losing that special time, but it’s been filled with snuggles and laughter and play time instead.

I will never tell anyone the journey was easy. I would never judge anyone for giving up either. It took a extremely bad mental toll on me in the beginning and I still can’t tell you how I pushed through. I am really glad I did though. I learned so much and it was so special for the time that we had that time together and I got to provide his source of life after giving birth. I am incredibly proud of myself for making it work even though it wasn’t perfect or magical every second. To any mama struggling out there or choosing a different path, GO YOU! It’s not worth your sanity and there were times I probably should have given up, but didn’t. All mamas, regardless of breast, or bottle, or formula or WHATEVER … you are ALL doing an amazing job and choosing the right path for you and your family and your baby.

Caitlin Apple