I’m currently two months into exclusively breastfeeding my daughter and have gone FAR BEYOND what I ever expected feeling empowered to do. From breastfeeding in the park with no cover, doing EVERY feeding myself, and nursing up to 15 times a day.
With my son, I was defeated by his NICU beginnings and didn’t understand the supply and demand connection. My husband and I really struggled in the beginning with finding a family balance of care with her being so attached to me, but it’s already developed into such a caring connection between my daughter and me that he absolutely admires what I’m doing for her. We haven’t been apart for more than 30 minutes since her birth - a mind blowing, redemptive experience as a mother.
My son was in the NICU for head trauma from a vacuum extraction and sepsis from meconium aspiration, we were there for 7 days. It was very difficult of course as first time parents, but also because all family lived 1,200 miles away from us due to my husband being active duty.
The hospital supplemented him with bottles in the NICU because I wasn’t there for every feeding, but also wasn’t pumping during those feeds. I (wrongly) assumed that he’d still want the breast once discharged, or that just one bottle when I wanted a little more sleep wouldn’t matter - since he was doing fine with that in the hospital.
What I didn’t really understand until my daughter being EBF was that the milk HAS to be removed to make more, and EVERY bottle of formula he received as “supplement” and I wasn’t pumping was one less feeding my body would ever be able to produce for him. It was NEVER explained to me what a slippery slope that becomes, and I never consulted help either...
So this time, we delayed all bottles for at least three weeks - and WOW was/is it hard to be the only one to be able to feed the baby, as pumping just wasn’t a desire for me. She will be 6 months old tomorrow, and has only ever had four bottles and I pumped during each of those times. Before she was born I put an “emergency” stash of formula and one bottle in her closet for the night I just couldn’t take nursing for one more a second - moment I was surely going to encounter based on my major nursing failure with my son. But three months in, they got given away, the time I was done and exhausted and throwing in the towel never came, or rather hasn’t yet.
We’ve overcome big hurdles - tongue and lip ties, thrush at 6 weeks old, husband leaving on extended work trips, and now a dairy allergy. I was told “it wouldn’t be the worst thing if you stopped nursing her soon, that’s a lot to handle” but I went all in with dairy free just to preserve what I truly have come to LOVE doing