boob, baby and bottle

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It’s been suggested to start the bottle feeding transition (if you are going back to work or want to have some freedom while solely breastfeeding) within 3-5 weeks after birth. This is apparently the best time because you have formed a solid and respectable relationship between boob and baby, but also because your little one is still to small to understand they’re being tricked into drinking from a fake nipple.

A little over a week ago, I realized Harland’s bottle introduction was upon us if we wanted the relationship between the two of them to be a positive one. With that in mind my husband and I decided to start the introduction in our son’s 4th week of life, because that’s when I felt solid with breastfeeding and (honestly) coped enough with the idea of not being the only one who gets to feed my baby boy. I say cope because there were definitely some unwanted feelings that surfaced once I realized the time had come. I don’t know if it was because I thought that Harland would want me less, or that our special moments would be taken by someone else, or that I would no longer be the sole provider for his survival, or a combo of all of the above. For me, those feelings were actually surprising, and the first time I watched my husband feed our son with a bottle I cried. Now, of course the cry was a combination of things: it was my own previously admitted insecurities obviously, but they were mixed with the love and deep connection I saw my husband and son share that they hadn’t engaged in before. I realized in a moment that it must be so hard for him to not be able to share that kind of bonding, the moments I get so often throughout the day and totally take for granted. When I watched how happy my husband was to be able to stare into our son’s eyes while he ate and talk to him and bond with him, I felt a huge rush of love and emotions I’d never felt before, and it was very unexpected.

Those unwanted feelings I talked about are still sometimes there, but I’m understanding there are bigger, greater and more powerful new feelings I get to experience. I love the feeling I get when I watch my two favorite dudes be able to share such a special time together, and it warms my heart every time.

Now, of course breastfeeding is still going to be our son’s primary source of food, but on those mornings when I want to go work out a little longer, or that one night my husband and I want to enjoy a meal together or with friends I know that our child won’t starve or scream because he’s hungry and that feels amazing.

Going to the grocery store used to be a stressful experience for me because the whole time all I could think about was how long I was gone, or if he woke up. It’s totally a shitty double edged sword and that feeling of being wanted and needed is wonderful and fulfilling, but it’s also a stressful full time job, a job that’s actually kind of nice to give to someone else every once in a while.

Relinquishing control and allowing Harland to feed from a bottle every so often has given me a greater appreciation for breastfeeding as well as a better understanding for the emotional connection it provides, not to mention the occasional freedoms I’ll get to enjoy.  🙂

learning to breastfeed aka the great tunnel of boob doom.

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So my little bean and I are a little over two weeks in to this whole breastfeeding thing and man has it been a learning process for both of us. A painful, frustrating process with a wonderful reward after a razor sharp tunnel of boob doom. I’m not going to say the beginnings of breastfeeding is as painful as labor, but it does merit some attention.

After making it through these last couple of weeks I now understand and respect the intimate process baby and mama go through in the beginning.

I learned rather quickly that that cute little bundle of joy doesn’t come out magically knowing exactly how to latch, instead they chomp and bite trying to achieve the perfect suckle with serious expectation of a result. Not only is it frustrating, but it hurts like the devil’s branding you on the tit…with sharp little knives, then kick’s you in the crotch (because that still hurts too).–My ONLY relief during this time was soothing gel pads AND this natural nipple butter. It’s amazing, smoothing, natural and smelling great, plus it’s safe for baby to digest! Those two items were my life line and I will forever be grateful.

Now that I’m pretty much through the tunnel and see that glowing light getting closer and brighter, I look back to the first week or so and I have to say the most frustrating part during the learning period was my fear of nursing because I was scared of the pain. Nursing is supposed to be a magical bonding time, but every time Harland would wake up out of his peaceful slumber and demand the boob, it was like having my nipples tattooed. It sucked, because I wanted to be excited about nursing and happy to feed him, instead I wanted to flee the scene and cry in a closet with a giant bottle of wine while I iced my boobs.

It does get better though, slowly and day by day and that’s what I’m focusing on. I also realize that there are so many other women out there who have it much much harder than me. Some women endure months of struggling to breast feed and provide enough nutrients for their little ones. I can only imagine how it must feel for all of those mama’s, and I feel lucky that the worst thing for me was getting used to the physical adjustment my body had to naturally go through in order to feed my son.

None the less, those first weeks sucked…and I’m so glad they are nearly behind me.

In the end and after this experience I am left with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment for pushing through because it would have been so easy to give up and put my baby on a bottle, but that wouldn’t have been fair to me or my little bundle of love. Nursing is such an amazing and special bond between a mother and her baby and I feel so lucky to be able to experience the magic, because not every mother can or even has the choice. So, with that in mind, I will remember to be appreciative and cherish this phase forever, because I know one day I’ll think back and miss it.