So it’s been awhile. Over 8 months to be exact. I got engaged and that was the end of blogging for the time being. I didn’t want to stop but with taking care of my family, going to school, working on FTLOJ, and planning a wedding, it was necessary. I even stopped reading other people’s blogs. That’s when you know you’re REALLY busy.
A lot had happened. One being I got married to my best friend and baby daddy of 7 years. The other being that I am retiring all custom orders. I will talk about both of these soon but today I wanted to share my breastfeeding story. If you didn’t know, August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week. I had never written about my breastfeeding experience and thought this was the perfect time to share and to offer encouragement.
4.5 years ago, when I was pregnant with Gavin, I knew right away I wanted to breastfeed. At that time, I knew nothing about living naturally like I do now so my decision to breastfeed was not because of the nutrition and health of my baby. My husband (then boyfriend) and I were two college students, working part-time, making minimum wage, when we got pregnant. I wanted to breastfeed because it was FREE. Nobody told me how hard breastfeeding was. They told me how hard the labor and delivery would be but never told me about breastfeeding. I read pamphlets about nursing and thought, well that’s that. Uh, WRONG. When was born, the doctor gave him to me to nurse right away and he had a very good latch. The boy loves to eat and still does today so he was a pro at nursing me from day 1. It was me who had the problem.
My milk didn’t come in for 5 days. He was losing weight too fast and the doctor didn’t like that. I went to a breastfeeding consultant and she told me I was doing everything right but didn’t know why my milk hadn’t come in yet. She told me to keep nursing him when it was his time to eat for at least 20 minutes on each side and then supplement him with formula. Again, I didn’t know anything about formula like I do now but back then I knew I didn’t want to give it to him. It looks processed and unnatural (duh, cause it is!). But I was a worried, tired, sore mama who wanted her hungry baby to eat.
Can I say how painful it is when your milk first comes in? I had a pretty easy labor and delivery (hospital, epidural, pushed in 12 minutes, done. However, if we have another baby, it’ll be birthing center, no pain medicine, and hopefully still push in 12 minutes. Or better yet, I hope the baby just falls out!), I was healing really well from my delivery, I was surviving alright on less than 3 hours of sleep a night. But the milk? Holy Cow. I cried. I Ibuprofened. I took hot showers. I pumped. I guess my body had stored up so much milk since it came late that it all just flooded down at one time. Eventually, it got better but I still remember to this day how painful and uncomfortable it was.
Yay, milk was here. All would be better now, right? Wrong, again. I was not making enough milk for my hungry little baby. I was on the feeding schedule like everyone had suggested. Every 2-3 hours, 20 minutes on each side. But it was not enough. He wanted more, more, more. I was a first time mom. I was also the first one of my friends to have a baby. I had no support group at that time, no church community to contact. I was basically on my own and didn’t know what to do. I wanted to give up. Itwould be so much easier to give up. Life would be wonderful if I didn’t have to deal with this anymore. He could eat however much formula he wanted and finally be satisfied. But deep down, I knew I couldn’t do it. I was this boy’s mama. God gave me the body to grow him and then to nourish him. I wanted to nourish him for a long time.
For the next two months, I threw away his feeding schedule and nursed on demand. I literally nursed every hour, every day, for two months. I nursed all day long. That boy was on a boob all the freaking time. I nursed all night long. Me and my husband were sleeping on a full size mattress and it was not enough room for us and a baby. So I had to kick out the husband basically every night so Gavin could sleep next to me and nurse me any time he wanted. Poor husband had to sleep on the couch cause we only had one bedroom at the time!
Finally, it happened. I don’t remember the day when I realized this but I finally had enough milk for every feeding that I could finally space out his eating times. I can’t even tell you what a sense of accomplishment I felt. My body was finally in sync with my baby and it was a great relief.
When he was 9 months old, I went back to school and he stayed with a good friend of mine who is a stay at home mom. I pumped a lot for those times I was gone but it wasn’t enough. I eventually started losing my milk supply. I had to eventually start supplementing with formula again but during this time, I had learned a little bit about natural living and was giving him organic formula. He was almost a year old when I nursed him for the last time. I remember his last feeding and it was the saddest day. Our favorite time to nurse was in the morning right when he got up and in the middle of the night when the whole house was quiet. I still remember those sweet little noises he made when he drank and just the way we would snuggle and bond during that time. He’s almost 5 now and I just cannot believe how fast the years go by. It is truly bittersweet.
So this is my breastfeeding story. Now I know not every mom can nurse on demand every hour like I did. I was working at home at the time so I was still pretty busy but I still had the time to be able to nurse him the way I did. When I was at school, it was too hard to just run out of class and pump which is why my milk supply started to dry up. And I know lots of moms out there are in that same situation where you have to go back to work and you can’t take three 30 minute breaks to pump during your shift. And I know there are a lot of moms who are struggling much worse than I did with nursing. Besides the first time my milk came in, my breasts were never sore and never got infected. I’ve seen first hand from my best friend how painful it can be when that happens. Pain that is unbearable and you just have to grit your teeth to get through it. There are many reasons, not excuses, to why moms have to give up breastfeeding even though they tried really hard. It is a heartbreaking situation.
But you don’t have to turn to commercial formula! There is a much better alternative. My best friend had to give up on breastfeeding her 4 month old daughter when she was pregnant with her son. Instead of using processed, manufactured formula that is missing all the nutrition and vitamins a baby needs to grow healthy in all areas of their bodies, she started making Goat Milk Formula which is very close to mother’s milk. She would buy the milk from a farm and add good fats such as coconut oil and cod liver oil, Vitamin C, probiotics for a healthy digestive system, and so on. Her daughter is now 20 months old and has never been seriously sick and is a very healthy little girl and I attribute that to her goat milk formula and the natural and organic foods that she eats. So if you need to stop breastfeeding, I would tell you to seriously consider making your own formula. If I had known about this when I was supplementing, I would’ve done it in a heart beat. It does take time because you are preparing it yourself, but I believe it to be worth it for your baby’s health. My friend made her recipe from the Weston A. Price Foundation.
The boppy cover was heaven sent for me. I knew nothing about them until after I started nursing. Imagine me already distressed from nursing but also hunched over my baby with an achy back. Also, Gavin would only nap on the boppy for about the first 4 months of his life. The Boppy Pillow is definitely my number one recommendation for new moms.
One of my very first items I offered in my shop was the Quilted Patchwork Boppy Cover. I started creating covers because I wanted my boppy cover to match my house and I figured most would want that too. It became a hit and I think I’ve made hundreds of boppy covers in the last 3 1/2 years. I am sad to say that on September 1, I will no longer be offering those. I’ve created a new cover design and am taking my shop in a different direction design-wise so it’s time to retire the patchwork covers. However, there is still a month left! And from August 1-7, 10% of all my sales will go to benefit the Tarrant County Breastfeeding Coalition. Also for August 1-7, take 15% off anything in the shop using coupon code “IHEARTMILK”. Visit For The Love Of Joy to check it out!
I hope I have encouraged someone out there who is struggling with breastfeeding. It is very hard work. Not only did you sacrifice 10 months to carry your baby, but then you have to sacrifice almost another year to feed them. Your body is so strong to be able to do those things and with prayer and perseverance, I believe you can conquer all your struggles!
I am Anna Joy. These are the things that make me.
I follow Jesus. He is my life because he has given me new life. The things that I accomplish are because of Him.