If you have followed me since Nora was born then you have heard me mention how breastfeeding Nora was no walk in the park. You may have just seen the few times I mentioned it in passing, or read this post where I went into detail about some of our issues.
Without chronicling the whole story again, I will sum up that nursing Nora HURT. It always hurt for the entire almost four months I nursed her (minus the three weeks I had to use a shield to heal from the first month). Along with the pain came supply issues towards the end of my time nursing her. At just under four months I stopped, and Nora was then exclusively formula fed until she turned one. I cried, was ashamed, and dreaded having to stop even though I hated nursing. Luckily, Nora thrived on formula and my mindset completely changed on the topic.
When I was pregnant with Ivy I told myself from the start that I would try nursing again. I knew that every baby was different, and there was a chance that things would go great! I also knew it was possible there would be the same issue as before. That I would once again switch to formula. What was nice this time around was how I knew that formula wasn’t a terrible alternative. I had seen Nora do wonderful on it, so if I had to switch I would. No biggie.
I can’t lie though. I was really hoping things would go differently this time around, and that I would be able to nurse for at least six months (that was my “goal”). I just wanted to have a positive breastfeeding experience.
I truly believe that fed is best. I know that there are so many reasons women choose to nurse. There are many reasons women choose to formula feed. Some women choose to exclusively pump. Some women supplement. Some women don’t even get to choose. No matter what, a fed, happy, and loved baby is the goal!
So when Ivy was placed on my chest in the hospital I chose to attempt to nurse right away. I very realistically told myself that no matter how it went I would try to nurse for the first two weeks and then decide from there. I was so pleased that little Ivy latched on immediately, a perfect latch. Not only that, but she seemed to know exactly what to do and it brought her comfort (something I never saw with Nora). Ivy was a naturally amazing eater. She just got it from day one.
I now have been exclusively breastfeeding Ivy for four and a half months. Those first weeks were still rough in many ways (will any woman ever love engorged breasts? No. No they will not.), but I could see the light. I just knew it was going to work out this time around. It was so incredibly redemptive for me. I am not ashamed of how Nora was fed, she was and is a healthy thriving child. I just really wanted to be able to experience a “successful” breastfeeding journey.
Ivy still goes through weird phases, strikes, and other woes. She’s a typical baby. I don’t know how long I will nurse, I’m setting my goal for six months and then taking it a day at a time from there. I may have a great experience with future children, or formula feed again. All I know is that I am so thankful for a “breastfeeding do-over” with Ivy. I don’t want to forget what a unique experience it has been, and I am ever thankful.