Steph vs Joy | Our Breastfeeding “Journeys”

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Isn’t it amazing that in the world of motherhood there can be a plethora of “success” stories … but none of them are the exact same?

This is especially true in the area of breastfeeding.  Some people like Joy (as you’ll soon see) and SMB Contributor Jess have seemingly “easy” breastfeeding stories. While others like myself and our mystery guest blogger have much harder journeys.  None better than the other… just different.

With sharing our experiences below we don’t in any way want to appear as if we have think we’ve chosen the one and only way.  We’ve simply chosen the way that we feel is best for our families.

Without further ado… here are our stories…

{Steph} I’m honestly a bit nervous to even open this can of worms. Like our previous mystery guest blogger, I too believe that in the world of mothering, if you start to say anything even remotely negative about breastfeeding, you’re very likely to be shunned by the rest of the mommy population.

So I’m going to tread lightly here…

I completely agree that there are a TON of benefits to breastfeeding.  Bonding, cost, nutrition…. the list could go on and on.  BUT in my case (with both of my girls) there certainly have also been a number of things that have worked against these benefits to make breastfeeding a not-so-perfect solution for our family.

Before Nora was born I had just assumed that breastfeeding was the most natural thing in the world so it very well must be easy.  Right?!

Breastfeeding was the furthest thing from easy for me.  Not only did I have a fairly severe case of the baby blues but I also had (and still have) inverted nipples  and have to use a nipple shield whenever nursing (yes – I realize this may be TMI but for those of you who have the same thing please know -YOU ARE NOT ALONE).  For those who are unfamiliar with a nipple shield,  let’s just say that it makes nursing about 10x more difficult at home and certainly in public. Add to these things the fact that Nora took nearly 45 minutes to eat every feeding for 6 months and let’s just say that breastfeeding was just plain discouraging for this mama.   After the 6 month mark I decided to stop and, in all truthfulness, I felt like it wasn’t until I stopped that I started to feel like myself again.

Now for Elsie it was a bit different (figures – they’re different kids).  I haven’t had as severe of baby blues this go around but I still have inverted nipples (surprise surprise) and rather than having a slow eater, Elsie has some pretty sad tummy issues.  And by that I mean that the girl was always constipated for 3+ days and had such terrible gas that she just couldn’t even sleep or be comfortable.  She was a very sad baby. I changed pretty much everything in my diet for 6 weeks and nothing seemed to help.  So after much mental debate I finally stopped nursing a couple weeks ago and Elsie is soooo much happier.  And I’m also happier.  Funny how that’s worked!

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not thrilled about throwing a lot of money at the formula companies on a regular basis.  But for us – we’re confident we’ve made the right decision for our girls (and for me)! And rather than comparing and competing with other mamas I’m choosing to CELEBRATE (thanks Noelle for the reminder) the benefits that I’ve found in bottle feeding Ms. Elsie.

*****

{Joy}  As usual, Steph and I have completely different experiences and handle the same thing (i.e. nursing) completely differently.  On just about every personality test that I’ve taken, the words “easy-going” are on the top of my most notable characteristics.  Sometimes this works against me (like with cleaning, keeping track of Reagan’s shoes and sleep-training), however, it seems that with breastfeeding, this has been an asset.

I approached breastfeeding with my firstborn with tons and tons of research.  Unlike Steph, I thought it would not be easy or hard – I just wondered how I could do it successfully without ANY sort of real guidance from those who’d gone before me.  I read books, watched videos and worried about the unknowns that I was about to experience.  How is someone who’s NEVER been around a nursing mother (okay, other than as the baby) able to know what in the world to do?  When Reagan was born, I took the advice to have her latch right away to get breastfeeding established.  My milk came in.  She ate when she was hungry.  And, other than a nasty battle with reflux, she thrived.

The long stretches of snuggling, sitting and staring at that little face were with Reagan and are with Elliot blissful.  I can just sit and enjoy my two little darlings while I nurse.  Reagan likes to either sit next to us or at least play nearby when I’m feeding Elliot.  Besides, spending 40 hours a week snuggling my little bean is a welcome necessity.  I love sitting on my couch with my babe in arms and knowing that there’s nothing more important than me being right there.

Sure, there are little inconveniences of not being able to do certain things (like traveling with hubby alone or going to a really nifty blogging conference), but, as a home-body, it doesn’t bother me.  I just roll with it.  Unlike with Steph’s experience, it’s not even something I really even think about.  It just happens without event.

We know that every child and every mom has a unique journey through motherhood.  What decisions have you made that have helped make life just a little less stressful so you can be free to enjoy your little ones? 

11 COMMENTS

  1. It so funny because I think I am a lot more like Steph in most situations, (after reading your Steph vs Joy stories), but this one I feel like I totally empahtize with Joy. I did a fair amount of research and just hoped and prayed I would be able to do breast feed. I realized it would be hard but I was up for the challange. I set realistic goals for myself (six months but if I couldn’t make it to that, at least I gave it a shot) and I am proud to say I am still nursing my 9 month old… but have plans for weaning in the next few months. I feel like anyone that does what is best for their baby is choosing the right thing, regardless what everyone else tells you. Congrats to both of you for choosing what works best for your family. And thanks for sharing!

  2. I love the side by side comparison! And I very much like reading that I’m not alone in the fact that I struggled with breast feeding and then let it go. I think there is so much pressure on new moms and moms in general. I also think it cruel when a mom is judged when they cannot physically do something – if it works for some, great! And if it doesn’t work, that’s ok too! I began enjoying feeding my daughter so much more when I didn’t have the stress of trying to breast feed but rather could just sit and relax knowing she was getting enough food and I wasn’t in pain!

  3. I totally empathize with Steph. with my first I thought breastfeeding was going to be a breeze…..Totally and completely wrong. I too have inverted nipples and Ben was born with his lower jaw back a little bit, this made everything breastfeeding miserable for both of us. After two weeks of crying (by both of us) and hours and hours of pumping, I decided Ben was going to be a formula baby. After I made tha decision I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, like I no longer carried the world around and I could be myself again. He is now 18months of happiness and he eats like a champion. I am now due to have baby number two in three weeks, and have no clue what breastfeeding is going to be like. I would love for BF to work this go around, but if it doesn’t I am not going to put myself down about it and just go with what I feel works for us.

    Thanks for the two sides, it helps to realize that I am not alone. 🙂

  4. I love this post ladies! I was definitely more like Steph while nursing Parker. I thought it would be easy but had much difficulty with it at first and Parker was such a hungry baby and eventually began using me as a paci. I know some moms are okay with this but I wasn’t. I loved the bonding that nursing provided us with but, for me, I wasn’t able to keep a peaceful balance in my life when he wanted suck for 60 minutes every 90 minutes. He also had reflux. I made changed to my diet but it didn’t help. At about 3 months-when I went back to work-we made the switch to formula. I think we were all happier at that time b/c it ended up being what was best for our family. On a side note Steph, I had to use a nipple shield too and I agree it was DEF an inconvenience. My lac consultant would have been horrified to hear that I used it the entire time I nursed b/c as she put it “I should be able to do it without it” and “it is only a temporary solution” I wanted to scream at her for trying to make me feel guilty for using it. But, my nipples didn’t hurt and my baby was fed the way I wanted to feed him so instead I just ignored her phone calls until she left me alone! 😉

  5. I love this post! So many are afraid to talk about the truth of breastfeeding that so many moms go unprepared! I love that you guys shared both of your stories without judgement! I think a breastfeeding class would make for an AWESOME SMB event! Does Zoolikans do them? I know they do cloth diapering and babywearing classes… 😉

    • Thanks Carrington! It’s hard to talk about b/c it’s so very different for everyone! AND, I think it’s challenging when close friends have such very different experiences! Makes it difficult to relate…

  6. I hate how much the WAY in which we feed our babies can bring about such mixed emotions. I think we would all be happier Mama’s if we were more comfortable and confident in sharing how/why we chose to do what we did 🙂

    Joy- I relate way more with you on this. And actually when I read what you said about little inconveniences like not being able to do certain things I totally am right there with you. It is actually hard for me to explain to other friends why I can’t/wont leave my baby/babies while I’m still BFing. Its really the only struggle I’ve had at all. I am so easy going too most of the time, but it is really hard for me when I can’t do something because I can’t leave Miss. Piper for more than 2 hours. My body builds up a pump resistance around 4-6 months after the kiddos are born, so if I don’t have enough stored up at that point I can’t leave them until they are done nursing.

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