Hi ladies! I’m Karra, a military wife who blogs over at JustUs&Rae where I talk about the daily adventures and giggles with my mini and handsome. I’ve loved this series that Julie has started from the very beginning. Women uplifting other women in such a precious and scary time of their lives is beautiful. I read, read and read some more about breastfeeding but nothing ever truly prepares you for your own experience, and this is mine.
I became a mama to this sweet babe at 8:59 PM on a Sunday evening just a week early from my due date. The first moments after Rae was born were heaven. Her cry, her smell, her hair! I was so in love with this little girl who was part myself and part my husband. From day one of finding out we were expecting I started eating healthy, bought every book and every pregnancy magazine I could get my hands on and I was so certain that I was going to be as prepared as possible for this new adventure. Breastfeeding was so important to me, but I also knew that if it didn’t happen then it didn’t happen. I wasn’t going to beat myself up over it because in the end I would do whatever I needed to do to make sure my little girl was healthy.
I was so blessed with my pregnancy with Rae. I loved being pregnant, loved dressing my bump and feeling her dance inside me. Her birth story (that I have yet to write…what?) went smoothly as well. The nurse laid her down on my chest and I was so eager to start breastfeeding her! I had read how those first moments of milk are one of the most important parts for her nutrition. So many great websites like kellymom and blogs like Julie’s helped me mentally prepare for the pain and the dedication it was going to take to breastfeed.
I was passionate about it though and I am so thankful for my husband who was my number one supporter. Seriously, he would help me pump and bring me water every.single.time without even being asked. Finding a great support system is probably the most important thing to do while breastfeeding. Along with eating! Producing milk burns calories and it’s so important to stay hydrated.
Rae latched on right away and to this day I still talk about how she rooted around trying to get milk and how cute her nose was. She nursed for a full seventy minutes the first time and I was so happy. I never really experienced terrible bleeding or cracking but you can bet I had Lanolin cream on hand if I did! I actually ended up using coconut oil instead though, because the Lanolin cream was just too thick and the coconut oil seemed more natural.
Rae definitely liked to party all day and sleep all night so we never had a set schedule until about month three. I think because I was so worried about her breastfeeding that every single time she would fuss I would feed her. She just would eat so much! This quickly turned into comfort feedings and this mama was getting z e r o sleep at night. I started back at work part-time and only worked on days that my husband was off so she only really needed bottles while I was away.
I wanted my husband to have that special bond with Rae like I did so pumping was just as important to me as actually breastfeeding her. I loved when Rae would grab a part of my shirt or lay her hand on me. Her soft touch and the bond we had during our time is something I will never forget. I ended up producing an over supply because once again I was so worried our milk supply wouldn’t be enough while I had to work or I was just going to dry up one day. I was taking Fenugreek and smellin’ like pancakes right along with it as well as making lactation cookies (yum, if you need a recipe shoot me an email because I tried several different varieties). You’re probably thinking why overproducing is an awful experience, but I was so miserable. So many bottles of milk that had more foremilk than hindmilk. The hindmilk is the fatty milk with all the nutrients and the foremilk is much more watery. Not to mention my breasts were full ALL the time, which was an uncomfortable mess. After I self diagnosed myself, I took a break from pumping and just let my body readjust for a day or so, just letting Rae nurse when she needed to. Most of the time we had at least 50-60 ounces of milk in the freezer for the times a bottle was needed. We started with Tommee Tippee bottles and Rae never had a problem with them, so that’s what we stuck with.
Breastfeeding in public took a little bit for me to warm up with, but after seeing so many normalize breastfeeding posts and seeing more and more moms trying to normalize breastfeeding I felt more comfortable doing so. Something that surprised me and I didn’t really read too much about was how thirsty I was going to be throughout my whole breastfeeding experience. Every time I nursed Rae I would HAVE to have a cup of water with me. It was unexplainable, but I just had to have water on me at all times.
I was so blessed to be able to breastfeed Rae until she was fifteen months old. My ultimate goal was one year. I made small goals, three months, six months, nine months, because any amount of breastfeeding was a success in my book. There were definite struggles to our breastfeeding journey though. Mainly being that from the very beginning I would go to her in the middle of the night and feed her if she was crying. I can count maybe ten times, maybe, that she slept through the night. Some nights were better than others and some nights my husband could go in and settle her, but 90% of the time she wanted to be nursed. It honestly wasn’t until we stopped breastfeeding that she started sleeping through the night on a nightly basis.
Around month nine or ten I stopped pumping as much since Rae was eating solids. We had enough food made with the remaining frozen breast milk and I was always home before her bedtime so I could nurse her before she went down. Not to mention by this point I loathed my pump. I wasn’t able to have a let down because the sight of that thing made me want to cry. Pumping definitely wasn’t my favorite, so props to all you exclusively pumping mamas! After Rae’s first birthday we received orders to move from North Carolina to Oregon and I knew a five day trip with 10+ hours each day meant we needed to start weaning. Surprisingly enough Rae started showing less interest in nursing. St. Patrick’s Day was the last day I nursed my little babe. If I could do it all over again, I don’t think I would change a thing. Rae is the best eater, happy, dog-loving little babe and she turned out as healthy as can be.
So good luck mama's... If you go for 24 hours, 1 week, 3 months, 1 year, or 2+ years, be proud of yourself for trying!
Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries at the top of my navigation bar.