This photo was taken at Hudson’s 1 year photo shoot. I never thought I would share it. It was for me to have to remind myself how I had overcome so many challenges with breastfeeding to make it to that one year milestone, but also to remind me what a joy and blessing it had been as well. I really feel that this photo captures that special bond between a mother and child and reminds me of those quiet moments I got to spend cuddling Hudson while I nursed him. I worked really hard to breastfeed for as long as I did and I am proud of it. 🙂
I originally published the below post on July 28, 2014 on my personal family blog. I was 7 months pregnant with Luc and Hudson had weaned himself a few months earlier. I was reflecting on my breastfeeding journey, particularly how the response I got from others changed from positive to negative after we reached the one year mark. Since this week is World Breastfeeding Week, I figured I would share it here in the hopes that it might encourage other mothers to continue breastfeeding until you or your child decide you are done instead of giving into pressures from society. I also hope that this reminds mothers to be less judgmental and more supportive in all areas of motherhood. We are all just doing our best and trying to make the right decisions for our family.
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After 19 months, I am officially done nursing. It is certainly bitter-sweet (and to be honest more bitter than sweet). Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy, which is something I don’t have a lot of these days so having one less baby relying on me for nutrients is a relief. It will also be good to get a break before baby number two comes. I can eat whatever I want after a long time of being on a very restricted diet and I will have a bit more freedom for a while, but in all honesty, it makes me sad. Hudson made this choice completely on his own. He slowly started dropping feeds and the last few weeks he has only done the morning feed, which has been getting shorter and shorter until I finally realized 2 seconds of nursing is silly.
I had a very difficult start to breastfeeding and at times, didn’t know if I would get to do it at all. Our journey started with jaundice, poor latch, weight loss and near hospitalization, followed by hours of time with a lactation consultant teaching Hudson how to latch properly (he was very stubborn), around the clock feedings and pumping sessions, and obsessive weighing before and after feedings. Then once I thought our troubles were behind us, he was diagnosed with MSPI (Milk Soy Protein Intolerance) and eventually allergies to wheat, dairy, eggs and nuts so I went on a strict diet to be able to continue to nurse him. I initially made it my goal to make it to 6 months of exclusively breastfeeding. Once we reached that milestone, I said I wanted to make it a year. After the one year mark, I assumed Hudson would quickly wean like many of my friends children did, but our breastfeeding relationship kept going strong. I secretly made a new goal to make it to two years, so I was a bit sad when he became less and less interested long before the 2 year mark. I really was starting to think I could be one of those moms who nursed both her children, but Hudson weaned himself, which is ultimately what I had always wanted: to breastfeed until he was ready to stop.
One thing that I found really interesting about breastfeeding is how quickly opinions change in regards to it. When you have a newborn, everyone praises you for breastfeeding. I always wanted to be an open-minded mom and although I ended up being rather passionate about breastfeeding, I would never judge a mother for formula feeding. I certainly know first hand how challenging breastfeeding can be and I think that loving your child and making the best choices for your family are far more important than breastfeeding. I do however see a lot of formula feeding mamas being made to feel badly about making that choice (or perhaps being forced into that choice for one reason or another). Around 1 year though, the tables turn. Apparently there is some unwritten rule that you are a Goddess Mama if you make it to the one year mark, but if you go past this deadline, you are suddenly committing a social crime. I see mom’s post all the time that the last day they breastfeed is literally on their child’s 1st birthday and the very next day they switch to cow’s milk and breastfeeding is over. As soon as Hudson’s 1st birthday passed, the feelings and comments of praise quickly turned very judgmental. “Are you still breastfeeding?” “Jeez, are you gonna breastfeed until he’s 5?” “Don’t you think he is too old to be breastfed” “How much longer are you planning to nurse him?” (with a weird sideways glance that implies I should stop immediately). “When they can ask for it, you really should stop” “You know it is only beneficial for the first 6 months, right?” “Why haven’t you stopped breastfeeding him yet?” The comments and questions were never-ending. I didn’t let them get to me, but suddenly my formula and cow’s milk feeding mama’s were the Goddesses and I was a freak!
I just don’t understand why we as mothers need to tear each other down. I always had a really hard time defending my choice to breastfeed because the judgmental comments regarding my extended breastfeeding more often than not came from mother’s who either formula fed from the beginning or didn’t breastfeed for very long. I didn’t want to give a laundry list of reasons for my choice that might make them feel bad about theirs. As I said before, we are all doing our best and that involves making choices. No choice is right or wrong, it is the choice that is right for your family that matters and I wish we as women could just support other moms even if they make different choices than us. I really love this response to the Time Magazine cover with the mom on the front feeding her toddler with the title “Are You Mom Enough?” I couldn’t agree with it more!
To answer your question-
I AM MOM ENOUGH!
I am Mom Enough to breastfeed.
I am Mom Enough to bottle feed.
I am Mom Enough to co-sleep.
I am Mom Enough to crib sleep.
I am Mom Enough to cloth diaper.
I am Mom Enough to use disposables.
I am Mom Enough to make my own baby food.
I am Mom Enough to buy baby food.
I am Mom Enough to wear my baby.
I am Mom Enough to use a stroller.
I am Mom Enough to stay at home.
I am Mom Enough to go to work.
I am Mom Enough to do both.
I am Mom Enough to choose what is best for my family.
I am Mom Enough to raise happy, healthy children.
Thanks a bunch for asking,