I wrote this post about a month ago when I was engaging in quiet reflection and I was trying to process my first year of motherhood. I decided to share this with you because I’m hoping that it can provide a source of encouragement for a new or pregnant mom. I hope that you enjoy.
It’s been a good ride, but now it looks like my breastfeeding journey is coming to an end. What I thought would be happiness and glee because I finally have my body back is actually sadness. I feel sad because I can no longer be the food source for my children. Ironically I had been looking forward to this day where I could transition them to cow’s milk and not have to worry about pumping and stressing over-supply. But now that this day has arrived, I find myself wearing my favorite pumping bra, taking More Milk Plus, and connected to a breast pump in hopes that I can get something out.
For me, this moment has been a long time coming. I was so tired of breastfeeding because this journey has not been an easy one for me. I talk about it a little here. However, in summary, it took 2 months for my milk supply to increase to the point where I could 100% breastfeed my twins. I dreamed of breastfeeding, but it was not easy breastfeeding twins. I had one twin that didn’t latch properly, and it took some time to make that work. I planned to exclusively breastfeed, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t producing enough and I didn’t know because they drank until what I thought was a full belly. However, I while I was in the hospital I realized that the twins weren’t gaining weight properly. Then I had to supplement with formula and start pumping so I could measure what they ate. At that point, I began to lose my confidence. I started to wonder if I would ever be able to breastfeed. I wanted to quit because it was too painful the keep going. I felt shame. I felt like a failure, and I felt like I let my twins down. Although I felt this way, I decided to not quit and the Lord became my strength. People around me who knew my struggles told me to do what I can and be confident and satisfied knowing that I did my best. The nurses in the hospital, a lactation consultant, and my doula helped me to improve both of my twins’ latch. I searched the Internet, talked to my doula, and other moms (and verified some of the advice with a medical professional), to identify the right combination of home remedies that could help to improve my supply.
It finally worked. After 2 months I could exclusively breastfeed my children. I felt joy and satisfaction and I was saving a ton of money. I finally made it! However, that triumph was not without personal sacrifices. I wasn’t sleeping. I set my alarm at 2-4 hour intervals during the night to wake up to pump. Even though my children were asleep, I was pumping. I had to pump around the clock to make sure that I had enough for my children. Over time, it started to wear on me. I battled fatigue and constant exhaustion. I was too tired to take care of myself or eat right. I became even more worn down. I became critical of myself because I couldn’t work the way I wanted to. Something had to change. So I stopped pumping overnight.
Over time, my supply started to decrease, but I felt better. I wanted to start pumping at night to increase my supply again, but I couldn’t go back because I realized that I needed to pour into myself if I wanted to pour into them. This is as literal as it gets. I didn’t think about the fact that when I grabbed a quick snack, skipped meals, or failed to rest that my twins were consuming everything that I did through my breast milk. When I heard that I knew that I needed to make some changes to my life. I adopted the mantra:
I have to be healthy for my twins to be healthy.
I have to make good decisions because they literally ate what I ate (or watched me skip meals and not take care of myself), and over time they will watch and mimic what I do. Therefore, I need to be a great role model.
If only healthy eating were that easy – make a decision and then ride off into the sunset of easy street. It’s so easy to revert back into your old habits. As the fatigue wore on, I found myself skipping meals again, even though I allowed myself to rest. I wondered about the nutrition that I was giving them because I wasn’t eating enough, so finally, I started to feel less guilty about giving them formula. Previously, I had convinced myself that formula was bad because it went against what I planned to do. However, if you don’t produce enough, what do you do?
Around 8 months my supply started to decrease and I had to start supplementing again. However, this time instead of power pumping for the entire day, refusing to sleep, and pumping out every last drop to feed my children breast milk, I embraced the supplement. I refused to put myself through that stress again. I put myself first, and in putting myself first I put them first.
This entire ordeal really tested me. As the months wore on, I was so tired of breastfeeding. I started counting down the months until my one-year of breastfeeding was over. I used the decrease in milk production at 8 months to start the weaning process. I didn’t try to pump more, besides I was starting to get discouraged because I knew my twins needed more than I could produce.
I still loved the bonding experience and convenience of breastfeeding – I didn’t have to heat up a bottle when you have a hungry baby. It also is amazing to connect to the source. It’s like my love literally flowed into my children. It reminded me about how the Lord’s love flows into us when we connect to Him.
Now that it is done, I sit back and wished that I enjoyed the process more. I’m also, grateful for the shift in my mindset and the encouragement from others that allowed me to make it this far. I found that when I focused on the bonding process and not the hijacking of my body. I didn’t rush through it and I enjoyed it more. I also, realize that when I took the pressure off of myself to be their only food source until we started solid foods and then ultimately transition to cow’s milk, I felt better.
I say this to say, watch your thoughts. Guard your mind. Enjoy the process. Say affirmations to make it through the hard times. I know it’s hard because it feels like your body has been hijacked – pregnancy and breastfeeding – but at some point, your children will be eating normal food and running around and you will long for the day where you could cuddle up and breastfeed your children. You may even get a good laugh at how they chomped down on you with their new teeth. It is painful but it is also a part of the process and you probably taught them how to breastfeed without the biting. As I’m writing this I’m laughing, although it hurt then.
This just came to me and I want to make sure I mention it.
- This is a process.
- This too shall pass
- When things are hard keep going and trust the Lord.
- Enjoy the moments
- Enjoy not having a period without menopause lol. (Remember to enjoy the small things and the cost savings that they bring)
- Even though it may be painful and hurt now, there is joy on the other side.
- Run your own race and don’t compare yourself to others or your own ideas of perfection. Don’t compare yourself to the comments of others like when they say (is that all you are producing? I had a freezer full of milk.). That’s not your race. It’s their race. There is nothing wrong with you.
Breastfeeding has taught me so many lessons about life. It helped teach me how to rethink my approach, to not give up in the face of adversity, and that if you listen to God then you will make it though. I also learned a critical lesson that taking care of me is taking care of them.
Now that my supply is drying up, I wished that I didn’t have the countdown in my head and mini celebration planned for when I could stop. Now that they are closing in on a year, I wish I can keep going, but I know that I can’t. That makes me sad, but yet I can smile knowing that I came very close to my goal of breastfeeding for their first year. I can smile and reflect back on our journey and know that we made it.
Leave a comment in the Phenomenal Moms Facebook Group to let me know how this helps you!
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms transform their finances, enjoy life, and stop living from paycheck-to-paycheck. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!