By Briona McKinney
I have learned so much from reading other people’s stories. I’m finally ready to share mine, at 11:30 at night! My name is Briona and I’m a mom of an 18 month old boy who nurses like a newborn (quiet chuckle to myself while he sleeps next to me in bed). Oh yeah, and we bed-share and we are raising him vegan…
People call us “granola, crunchy, hippies.” We just make the decisions that feel right for us and our family. We read and research and approach things with an open mind and an open heart. We do what works and throw out what doesn’t. I remember I started feeling “different” from others when my OB said to me, “don’t get too granola on me. I’m going to call a contraction a contraction instead of a surge.” I was so insulted at the time and now I just laugh.
For me and my son, breastfeeding came very easy. There was no struggle, no moments of doubt, no hesitation. It was like we had been doing it for so long together, yet it was brand new for both of us.
I was a part of a parenting group through the hospital I delivered at and I had close friends that had delivered around the same time. In the first few months most of the conversations I had with my new mommy friends centered around breastfeeding. Everyone was giving it their best shot and it just seemed to be the hot topic with everyone; breastfeeding in public, raw nipples, leaking, engorgement, tasting your own milk, and on and on and on. I think part of it was pure amazement that our bodies are made to do such an incredible thing… I swear the female body is just awesome!
Anyway, with each month that passed, the conversations shifted from breastfeeding to other things. Not because people were finally comfortable with it but because they had stopped or weaned or gave up or weren’t able to produce enough. I witnessed the conversation go from, “how many times do you breastfeeding at night?” to “what kind of formula are they on?”. And I started feeling very alone.
I felt confident in the decision to keep breastfeeding but it was difficult not having the support from other moms. They started bonding with each other because they had chosen the same formula or because they could sit and talk while I pumped in the bathroom at work.
Now that my son is 18 months old, breastfeeding isn’t a part of any conversation with my mommy friends unless it’s to say, “you’re still doing that?” I get support from my husband and mom and my breastfeeding group as well as blogs like this and private fbook groups that have like minded parenting styles.
My husband has been our biggest cheerleader and has become a breastfeeding advocate on his own through this process. My mom admires and looks up to me and is proud that I’m doing something she didn’t do.
With each day that I breastfeed I feel stronger in my stance that I will continue until my son is done.
Like I said in the beginning of my story, my son nurses like a newborn. Here’s our schedule: nurse at 5:00 am when my alarm goes off and he falls back asleep. Nurse at 6:45 am before taking him to school. Nurse at 4:30 pm in the parking lot of his school because he has waited all day and won’t let me go a second longer without feeding him. Nurse at 5:30 when we get home. Nurse at 6:30 before dinner. Nurse at 8:30 before bed. And then he usually wakes up between 2-4 times throughout the night and I feed him in bed. Sometimes I offer but most of the time he asks for milk. I love it. He obviously loves it. It works for us so we will continue until he says so or until he goes away to college, whichever comes first.
The other special part of our breastfeeding experience is that my son has 4 milk sisters. I have either nursed or donated milk to 4 babies in need. It has been very special to us and something that I continue to do.
Stay true to yourself, Listen to your baby and your heart, both will tell you what you should do. If you feel alone, reach out and find people that will listen and lift you up.
Thanks for reading!