When it’s OK to stop breastfeeding is a hot topic right now.
So when is it? Really…Bueller…anybody?
Everyone seems to have an opinion, yet they are all different and nobody is right.
I fought. I fought really, really hard. From the beginning, the journey to motherhood was a challenging one, I had to put up a good fight almost instantly.
I fought against the unpredictable nature of my body.
I fought to pick up my shattered emotions with each negative pregnancy test.
I fought to hide my own jealousy and pain at each and every pregnancy announcement that seemed to flood my Facebook feed or mailbox.
I fought not to allow myself to be swallowed by bitterness, but to be genuinely happy for my newly pregnant family and friends.
I fought to find for myself and my babies that moment when it’s ok to stop breastfeeding.
I am blessed to have had this experience, to have had the strength to keep fighting all along the way. I am blessed with two amazing, healthy little boys who fill my heart with utter joy. I didn’t give up the fight, because I knew, deep down, that I was meant to be THEIR mother.
The day our boys were born wasn’t any different from all of the months prior to their arrival. I was going to fight to do everything I could for them.
Breastfeeding, the most natural thing in the world, was no different for me, it too was a bit of a fight. I kept wondering, when it’s OK to stop breastfeeding?
I had watched so many women beautifully breastfeed their babies. Really, they all made it look so easy and magical!
So, naturally, I expected to be able to make that choice for my babies as well. Before the boys were born, I took the classes, read the books, polled all my friends and family for breastfeeding advice and refined my tandem feeding skills with Cabbage Patch dolls.
So much of my experience from conception, pregnancy and delivery was out of my control. I had to trust the guidance of the medical professionals that were caring for me, which I happily did. But, once I had two healthy babies in my arms, I wanted to take back the control and do what I felt was best for them…which I believed was nursing them.
I was ready to exclusively nurse my babies for a year…and you know what, nothing was going to stop me.
Despite my fierce determination and what I felt was adequate preparation, unfortunately, the first bit of motherhood didn’t go at all how I had planned.
As soon as I was in recovery, I had a nurse on each side of me, squishing my boobs into hamburgers, trying to get my boys to latch…unsuccessfully.
Only a few hours after they were born, I was hooked up to a pump or trying to nurse constantly. Lactation consultants were flooding my hospital room, trying every trick in the book to get my boys to latch and efficiently nurse.
Hell…we even turned to dripping donor milk from syringes down my nipples to coax the boys into latching. Yes, ladies, I tried EVERYTHING!
By the time we got home, we were doing pretty well. We had a routine, were latching well enough and pumping seemed successful. And although I rarely left our house (because I nursed and then pumped 6 times a day), we did pretty well. I was proud to make that sacrifice to be a breastfeeding mom of twins.
By three months, I was a formula supplementing mom of twins. And by 5 months I was a pumping and bottle feeding mom of twins.
Eight months later I was a formula feeding mom.
I had a choice to make early on…to continue my charade of teas, diet changes, lactation consultants, supplements and incessant pumping, or I could own our reality. There has to come a time when it’s OK to stop breastfeeding for the health and well being of everyone in the family!
I let go of my dreams to be a mom of twins who exclusively breastfed for that first year. I let it go for the health my twins.
And you know what…I felt relieved. We were all happier. I was able to let go of a fight that was holding me back from finding true joy in motherhood. While I stand by my decision, deep down I am still unable to let go of the voice inside me that says “you didn’t do enough”.
Celebrity “brelfies” and non-stop movements to “normalize” breastfeeding are becoming ever popular with the growth of social media.
So often we hear “breast is best” or the “I would never” statements from moms on the playground, but I ask you, why don’t we just rally behind all women, who are breastfeeding, AND who are supplementing AND who are exclusively formula feeding their babies? You never know someone’s particular situation. Who is to say when it’s OK to stop breastfeeding?
Why aren’t we investing our energy into celebrating each other for making the hard, yet well-intentioned choices we know are best for our families?
Those voices within us all come from the comments moms hear when people think they are making helpful suggestions rather than just saying, “you are doing a great job!” I know that is why it lies within me.
As I write this, I encourage you to simply tell the next new mom you see that she is doing a great job. My journey took a detour, but all that really counts is that I am an awesome mom of some pretty amazing twins!