Breast? Bottle? Both? Today we’ll talk about how we fed our wee ones and what it was like for us. We hope you’ll share your thoughts, too.
Editor’s note: Today’s feature is the newest installment of our parenting column written by two sets of Richmonders: Jorge and Patience Salgado (veteran parents of four gorgeous children), and Ross and Valerie Catrow (parenting rookies who have only been doing this “raising a child thing” for a little while). Check back fortnightly to watch them discuss/agree/disagree/throw down over all kinds of parenting issues, Richmond-related and beyond.
We’ve touched on the topic of nursing before, but we wanted to open up the conversation a little bit. So…
Today’s question: Did you breastfeed or bottle-feed your children? What was the experience like for you?
I’ll never forget the third day of my firstborn’s life, as the first two days were mostly rainbows and unicorns. All of real life starts when you’re home by yourself and the baby starts to “wake up.” We were fortunate to have a home health nurse come to our house to check on us.
“How’s the breastfeeding going?” she asked.
“Fine, I guess. I am getting a little sore,” I replied.
She watched me nurse Josiah like I was some sort science experiment and then shook her head.
“Your latch is a little off! No wonder you are sore…”
Before I knew it, she leaned over, grabbed my left boob, and rearranged stuff. I was slightly mortified but tried to act cool. Thus began my breastfeeding experience.
As crazy as the moment was, I was later grateful for her, umm, input as it dispelled the mystery. She was so comfortable; it made it feel like feeding my baby this way might be more natural than I was feeling as an awkward new mother.
It wasn’t long before I was a pro and felt like I had been a mother for years. I was amazed by the connection with my baby and started to understand the breastfeeding advocates I had heard so much about. Without even realizing it, I was stepping on Internet soapboxes on parenting boards, going to La Leche playgroups, and using terms like “tandem nursing” in conversation.
I wasn’t sure how long I would breastfeed but I just knew it seemed an integral part to my parenting and relationship to my child, not to mention the health benefits. A year passed, then 18 months and even at two years old, we were still going strong. I will admit at that point I was starting to feel touched out and getting closer to closing that chapter. A couple months after Josiah’s second birthday, we discovered we were having another baby. A couple more months later I gently weaned him. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated.
Three kids and almost 10 years later, all of the rest followed pretty much the same pattern giving me nine years of breastfeeding experience. My opinions on the matter have softened a bit after meeting all kinds of different moms and hearing their stories over the years, but I think in my heart I always hope every mother and baby have the chance to know its rich goodness.
I have a confession to make…
I didn’t really like nursing my son.
Ok, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t like it at first. But it was touch and go there for a good long while.
When JR was born, nursing was a struggle. In fact, I believe the phrase “pencil sharpener” was used in describing my infant son’s mouth. He was also a huge baby (10 pounds, 2 1/2 ounces thankyouverymuch) with a huge appetite. Meanwhile, I was exhausted and in pain (22 hours of labor and a C-section will do that to you) and had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
And, guys, I prepared. I read all of the books I was supposed to read, had all of the conversations I was supposed to have, took all of the classes I was supposed to take, but yet I vividly remember when time came to put baby to breast, I uttered to myself “Here goes nothing.”
Despite the challenges of those first few days, with some support from the lactation consultant (and, yes, a little Similac), things got to be in working order fairly quickly.
Then they weren’t.
When JR was almost two weeks old, I got mastitis. I know there are legions of women involuntarily twitching and holding themselves at the mere mention of this word.
With the mastitis came fever, chills, and sweating, combined with redness and shooting pains in my boobage area. Plus, I had a newborn. “Hellish” is not an inaccurate description.
Fortunately, the infection was short-lived and I was back on my feet in about 48 hours. I’d like to say that things were smooth sailing from there, but I spent the majority of the next 7 1/2 months dealing with engorgement and plugged ducts (oh the plugged ducts, my constant, brain-meltingly painful companion). I was always asking myself (and everyone I knew who had ever nursed, who had boobs, or knew someone with boobs) if I should keep going. I didn’t oppose using formula at all, but I suppose my cheapskate nature made me keep at it, despite the discomfort and uncertainty.
But right around JR’s eighth month on this planet, it just became… easier. We had finally, finally found a rhythm and I got a glimpse of what all of those other mothers had been talking about. He was healthy and gloriously fat – and I put every ounce of that chub on him. Me! I finally got it. And I started to love it. Really, really love it.
Then, two months later, the stinker weaned himself.
And I, the woman who spent the first eight months of her son’s life slightly wincing whenever meal time came around, shed big, fat, ugly tears at the bittersweetness of it all.
Ok, now it’s your turn
Tell us about your experiences feeding your children. Did you breastfeed or bottle-feed? Maybe a little of both? What was it like for you?