Monday, September 16, 2013

Nursing Ava

"There are three reasons for breast-feeding: the milk is always at the right temperature; it comes in attractive containers; and the cat can't get it." --Irena Chalmers

That quote put a smile on my face so I had to share. ;)

When I was pregnant with Ava I had a paradigm shift with how I felt about nursing. Not about nursing in general, but how I felt about myself nursing, specifically out in public. I just wasn't comfortable the first time around. It may sound odd, but a huge influence for me feeling more comfortable was reading accounts from beautiful women (like Carolee and Chelsea) here in blogland that shared such love and passion for breastfeeding. And before this part of Ava + me nursing comes to an end, I thought I'd share our story, for my personal record and to pay it forward in regard to possibly helping other women embrace breast feeding. It's a lofty goal, but who knows.


As Ava comes up on turning 18 months, it is still so surreal and awesome to me that she's still breastfeeding. I had prayed for us to get to a year, and that milestone came and went. :) I've been so grateful for the chance to bond with Ava this way. We've had our ups and downs in the nursing arena, but over all it's been such a blessing! When I became pregnant with her big brother Brooks I remember planning to nurse him, and I did for a little while. If I close my eyes I can still see his little body in my arms as an infant, asleep in a milk-coma after a good feeding. That was when we were home sweet home, in my rocking chair...if we ever went out I made sure to pump before leaving so that I wouldn't have to nurse in public. I was still so uncomfortable and anxious that someone would see my chest (even with a nursing cover) or I'd make those around me uneasy. I'd get nervous and clumsy and hot...seriously, I'd feel like my temperature was 100 degrees, even when we were at home I'd nurse in my underoos. Haha! So Brooks got used to a bottle pretty quickly. So much so, that he began to prefer the quick and easy flow of the bottle, to my breast -- talk about a cut to my mama heart. Well, my little ladies just couldn't keep up their milk supply with all the pumping and I eventually dried up when he was almost 4 months old, and it was formula from then on. I was so grateful though that Brooks was a happy and healthy baby, whether I nursed him or exclusively fed him formula. 

Along the way of getting pregnant a second time, and then thinking about life with another newborn, I thought about how breastfeeding would go this time around. I decided I was going to do my absolute best to feel more comfortable nursing in public and hopefully keep my milk supply. I even remember praying about it. It's incredible the change my heart and mind went through so that I looked at breast feeding so differently when Ava was born. I think it's normal to feel how I felt the first go around (not 100% comfortable with my body and all the new experiences of motherhood). But with Ava I had a clearer perspective, I just knew my girl had to eat, no matter the place, no matter the time, and no matter who was around.

When she arrived and we started our nursing adventure, it all came back to me just how painful it is. Those first few weeks are killer!! But we kept at it and eventually the feeling of OH-MY-this-is-so-paintful-I-think-I'm-going-to-pass-out went away, and it was good. Just so good. The mind is a powerful thing, and because I was so set on being more comfortable nursing in public, I really was!...I didn't get over heated either, like I did with Brooks. And in regard to people around me, I wore button up shirts a lot at first (easy access for Aves) and made sure to use our light-weight nursing cover (and now I use my Sakura Bloom sling) so the only person seeing my chest and/or my sweet baby girl eat was me, just the way I like it. :)

I used a pump a time or two, hoping Ava would take a bottle so Adam and I could go out on a date, but that little girl only wanted it straight from the source. No matter what though, Adam was so supportive of me nursing Ava. I remember at one point venting to him and expressing that I felt like this nursing gig was ball-and-chain for me. But didn't I pray for this?? Yes, I sure did, and that prayer was answered. It did make date nights a little more tricky, and hopefully our next babe will take a bottle every now and then, but overall I'm so grateful to have had this experience of exclusively breastfeeding Ava.

The feeling of knowing I was her sole source of nourishment as a baby, and a continuing source of comfort as she's entering toddlerhood is beyond wonderful. That girl has my heart. I treasure the memories of Ava's new, tiny body in my arms during the quiet hours of the night, just us. And now her body is so long, her legs hang off my lap, and she'll sometimes take brakes to smile and say, "Hi Mama." I get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes when I think about not being able to nurse her anymore. And now I'll be praying again about this breastfeeding experience, that Ava will adjust smoothly and know that I still love her more than anything. I'm stopping so that I can do it again...hopefully sooner than later.

13 comments:

cate said...

All I can think is Amen!! This time around just felt so much more natural for me as well!

I was telling kyler today how much I admire you! You are so "real" and beautiful!

Have a good night friend!

Paula Pulice said...

I really loved this. Your story and experience is so similar to mine in many ways. Owen, my second baby, is 13 months old and I feel so much different than I did with Claire (who is now 4 1/2). The first time I was worried about how I could end our nursing relationship... hoping it wouldn't be too for me. Your words have reminded me how much I am trying to cherish and enjoy this time with Owen. We blink and then it's gone. How precious it is!

holly said...

Thanks for this sweet post. I've been following you on Instagram for a while and LOVE your pics and sweet moments you capture. Thanks for sharing! I'm currently nursing my 15 month old now. While it has not been easy the whole time, it has definitely been worth it! Ruby is our first and I hope to be able to nurse all our kids to toddlerhood. Thanks again for your sweet words.

Bri!!! said...

Loved this!

Bridget said...

i had to click over to your blog from IG to read the post. i love it. i love nursing and to think you were a little on the fence about it but having read other women's testimonies on the internet... i love that. i like when the internet is used for good like this :) good job, mama!

Melody TV said...

Love your blog!
Funny how things change with your second baby. The feeling hot thing made me laugh out loud - I literally felt feverish when I had to nurse my first in public! I am so much braver with my second.

Priscilla Angulo said...

Thanks for sharing.

Gaby said...

Wonderful post! I love hearing other moms stories because we all have our issues. I, for instance, have no problem nursing in public but Clementine does! She's so easily distracted that its nearly impossible so I carry a bottle as back up. I've had to combo feed her due to weight issues and after much research found the medela Calma bottle. I highly recommend it! It helps to alleviate nipple confusion so babies can breast and bottle feed. So great.

Marsha said...

My darling first-born, first nursed...I'm so grateful you have found joy in this experience. In fact, the joy you find in motherhood often brings me to tears...in gratitude that you are having this rich experience. Your joy is blessing so many....and especially your little ones. Thank you for sharing so eloquently. xoxox

Rolled Up Pretty said...

Found your cute blog from Gentri's instagram post the other day about your turban tutorial (still need to find it!) but I just love this post because I am OBSESSED with breastfeeding (in fact I just did a post a couple months ago about it if you want to read it :)... http://www.rolleduppretty.com/2013/08/i-heart-nursing-link-up.html Truly, it's my favorite thing in the whole entire world and my big baby boy (14 months old) is still obsessed too. Thinking of not being able to nurse him one day literally crushes me. SO glad you love it too! So excited to keep reading your blog, your family is ADORABLE! Where in Utah do you live? :)

Megan Hollenback said...

thank you so much for sharing this! i've always wondered everybody elses experiences with nursing, i have had such a hard time. it really is special tho :)

katrina said...

girl you are so inspiring. in every way. there have been a number of times I've gotten off the couch inspired to be a better mother because of YOU! thank you a million times. also, thanks for sharing this post. with another on the way, deciding whether to bf or not has been on my mind a ton and it's embarrassing to admit, but I haven't once thought to pray about it. really, thank you.

good luck weaning. I hope it goes smoothly. :)

nikki lincoln said...

Such a beautiful post, my daughter Sophie is going on 6 months now and I've had the worst time breastfeeding, to the point where I was actually considering switching to formula but reading this has given me a new sense of encouragement to keep pushing on a bit more. Thanks so much!

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