A few weeks ago a friend and I were facebook chatting online.  She has a little boy about Karlyn's age and we had been talking about the kiddos when within seconds of each other, we both typed the exact. same. thing.


It was hilarious and maybe it was only funny to us.  But if you're a mom...and you've breastfed for even a little while, you would understand all of the emotion, feeling, and craziness that filled the space between "So" and "Breastfeeding."

I've been thinking about writing this post for quite a while now.  I didn't know exactly how it would go but I'm just going to start writing and see where it takes me.  **If you're not a woman, mom, or anyone halfway interested/curious about the subject, you may want to scoot along.**  :-)

I'm not an expert on the subject.  I haven't read 10 books about it or breastfed 4 children.  So I'm just going to write about my experience, my thoughts, and my opinions.  You may not agree with me and that's ok.  Honestly, I also want to write this so that I will remember.  In who knows when a few years, when baby Ivey #2 comes along, I want to be able to re-read this and remember what the experience was like.  So here we go.

Before I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed.  While I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed.  My mom had done it with all of us (8), although she only went 2 weeks with me.  I read a little bit during my pregnancy on the subject but I really wish I would have read more, because when Karlyn got here and I was home from the hospital, I had some questions.  Not quite right away I guess because as I talked about before, we were using a shield at first that the hospital had given us.  But when I finally decided that I HAD to wean her off of that, I needed help.  It was not easy and I pretty much wanted to give up out of frustration. 

I still remember in the very first few days feeding her on our bed and texting a girlfriend..."I love breastfeeding!"  It was amazing to me that my body was designed to do this.  That euphoric feeling began to fade though as I worked to get her to learn how to latch and she ate. and ate. and ate again.  I was losing my glow.  This was work.  And time consuming.  And required ME to do it.  No one else.

It was messy sometimes.  And long.  And frustrating as she would fall asleep when she was supposed to be eating!  And there was my husband peacefully snoozing.  Lovely.

I don't know when it was but I remember calling my mom (actually did that several times-shocker) telling her I didn't think I was going to be able to do this.  It just wasn't working.  She encouraged me but told me it was my decision (wise wording in my hormonally charged state) but she later told me that my dad was not so empathetic.  My mom quickly told him that he had better hush...had he ever tried to breastfeed?

I kept going.  We didn't need the shield anymore.  We fell into a rhythm and it was a beautiful thing.  I started liking it again and enjoying this sweet snuggly time with my daughter.  She was an eating champ - getting chunkier and chunkier :-)

And then began our journey.  MY journey of ups and downs, loving this, and not so much loving it day after day.  For the most part yes, I did love it.  Do love it.  But every now and then, I would just have had enough.  It was funny, and I don't know what it was about the timing, but every single month, when she would turn a "new month," I would think about weaning.  3 months old?!  "Ok, that's it.  I think I'm done."  I kept going.  4 months old?!  "Ugh.  I'm weaning you."  But I love this!  5 months old?!  "Seriously.  It's probably time."  But I wanted to make it to 6 months.

I went back to work - part time - about two weeks before Karlyn turned 3 months old.  I pumped.  Every single day, one time at work.  It was weird at first, people knew, but then I didn't care.  I was doing what I wanted to do and it even helped me feel connected to her while we were apart.  Some days I was so over it  and other days I relished the break.  I stopped pumping just after she turned 5 months old.

I have wrestled, and thought, and wrestled, and read articles, and gone back and forth a million times about how long I wanted to go.  I really have.  Those times when I wanted to quit before now, I would often just google "benefits of breastfeeding" and that would keep me going.  I know that may sound silly but it worked.  I also viewed it as somewhat of a challenge, which also may sound weird.  I don't like to quit things...something that was hardwired into me when I ran cross-country in high school.  You didn't quit running, you just kept on going.  I knew that breastfeeding WAS the best for her and I also didn't want to quit just when we were getting the hang of things and after I had already put in the time that I had.

So now here we are.  Somewhere over the last month, I have slowly dropped a couple of feedings with her.  I knew I didn't want to pump at work anymore and then I began to know that I didn't want to breastfeed her for every meal anymore.  She started having some formula and has done very well on it.  I was nervous, but she has been ok.  It's been a weird thing, this process and I have had to go slow (beyond the obvious reasons) to allow myself the time to "grieve" so to speak the change in our routine.  But with each passing day, I have felt that this is right.  For us, and in this time. 

Karlyn turned 6 months old last Thursday and last night, 6/22/11 was the first night that I did not nurse her before bed.  Weird.  Tonight was the first night that I did not even put her to bed.  I gave her her bath and then Ryan fed her a bottle.  It went perfectly!

I am still nursing Karlyn a couple times a day.  Right now that is working; we will see for how long.  I am enjoying the new schedule we have going and am so thankful she is adjusting so smoothly.

So what are my final thoughts.  I'll try to sum them up.

* I think breastfeeding is a wonderful thing.  I think it's best.  I think it's what nature (God!) intended.  It's not just some crazy side effect that comes with having a baby.  I think it's a great thing when a mother decides to breastfeed.  And I really do think it has to be a day-by-day choice you make.  As Bethenny Frankel said, it's coming from a place of YES.  I think there are some incredible benefits that accompany this choice such as:

-Sweet, sweet bonding time with your baby

-100% clean, pure, PERFECT nutrition for him/her

-Natural weight-loss for you as a momma!  Did you know when you breastfeed, your body draws from the fat stores created during pregnancy to make the milk? Cool!

-It's FREE!  it's always available, at the right temperature, in the right amounts, and as long as YOU are there, there are few accessories you need to bring along.  I would often remind myself when I thought about weaning in those early days that I would be washing and making MULTIPLE bottles each day which would tack on even more time to the feeding process.

-It's relaxing and stress-relieving.  As you're feeding your baby, your body releases prolactin, a very relaxing hormone.  I remember specifically MANY times feeling so stressed and frustrated at the beginning of a feed and by the end I was in such a better mood!

-Anti-bodies and immunity for your baby.  Your breastmilk is protection for that sweet little one against so many things.  I'm thankful and blessed to say that Karlyn has not been sick once in her 6 months, and that is being born in Winter.

NOW.  Let me say this.  I just went on. and on. about my breastfeeding experience.  Then I told you I'm now using formula as well.  Formula is not the devil!  And I had to tell myself that!  New moms (and experienced ones!) have WAY TOO MUCH going on for someone to be laying ginormous guilt trips on them for how they choose to feed their baby.  It's hard enough learning everything else you need to know to be a mom to have someone telling you what THEY think you should do.  At the same time, I feel that women should be informed about both sides - breastfeeding and bottle feeding - thoroughly.  Breastfeeding IS best.  I may be completely using formula a month from now and I will still think that breastfeeding is best.  But we each make our own decisions and mine is now to continue the process of weaning. 

The timing of THAT process is so highly individual and personal that I would never tell someone when or how to do it.  As a mom, you make the decisions for youf child and you live with the outcomes.  You are the one living your life and no one else.  I know moms who have breastfed for 14 months and I know moms who have done it for 3.  You can get into what is right, what is wrong, yada yada, but in the end, only you can make the decision. 

My hope is that more women will give breastfeeding a shot though and experience the beautiful relationship, this unique and special time in life brings.



Em said...

Oh my goodness. Just what I needed to read. You're thoughts are identical to mine! We are down to just nursing in the morning and then I pump mid-day and at night. I loved what you said, "But with each passing day, I have felt that this is right. For us, and in this time." Yes, yes, yes! I waited to wean until I felt comfortable with the idea of it and I have to say, I am so happy with my decision to drop the feedings. Great post, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! You are doing such a fabulous job with your beautiful little girl!! :)

Heather said...

Well said, my friend! Ironically enough, I read this while breastfeeding. :) It's been SO much easier the second time around, but I'm still taking it one month at a time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Rachel Davis said...

You have done (ARE DOING) a wonderful job with Karlyn!! I loved reading this :) Thanks for sharing!

Lyndsey said...

I love this post! I actually read it while pumping, haha. Our thoughts are so similar. Every time I feel like it's too much and I want to stop I tell myself "one more week" and now 3 months later we're still going strong! It's one of the hardest but most rewarding things!

mom said...

proud of how far you have gone with karlyn. btw, i made it 6 weeks with you, not just 2. i went much longer with your siblings but i think the first is always the hardest. karllyn is definitely reaping the benefits of your unselfishness and determination. MOM XOXO

katiivey said...

Hey! I was hoping you would pop in here :-) I know exactly what you mean about feeling comfortable with it...that's partly why I've left the two feedings for now. I'm trying to be comfortable with each stage and go slow. When I tried before in the past, I found that I wasn't really ready!Thanks for the encouragement and friendship!

katiivey said...

Thanks Heather! I used to love to read blogs while I fed her in those early days...all day :) I'm so glad it's been smoother for you this time; that is definitely encouraging! I think one month and one DAY at a time is the best plan.

katiivey said...

Thanks Rachel! YOU have been a big reason I've even come this far so THANK YOU!! Your advice and encouragement has been a huge part of this journey and i great appreciate it :)

katiivey said...

Lyndsey, that's awesome! Ryan would laugh at me because I would go from cloud 9, loving it, to UGH, I am so going to wean her! He would say..."yeah, I've heard that before." It IS hard but rewarding! It is by far one of the hardest things I've done...which is kinda weird. You're doing great and Liam is so cute!!

katiivey said...

Sorry I got your stats wrong mom :) I was remembering what you'd told me wrong...but yes, you went MUCH longer with all the rest. You are a great example and encouragement to me and I LOVE YOU!

Becky said...

WONDERFUL blog! I loved reading this! You and I have communicated an awful lot about the challenges of breastfeeding, especially for two chicks who haven't exactly ever met each other - LOL! But seriously, I couldn't have said it better myself (especially the Bethenny quote - it's so true!). Russ and I are still going at 9+ months, but there is totally that "grieving" that I went through when he started having more solids and things that you mentioned - and as other moms have commented (you have smart friends, btw!), it's about being comfortable with the timing and knowing what is right for you and your family. I never foresaw myself making it this long, and I don't think you expected you'd keep going for this long. It's something to be proud of and thankful for. Just a total blessing - congrats on the amazing job you're doing as Karlyn's mommy! :)

Karen said...

Hi sweet Kati,
So I've been thinking alot about this, too, and wondering how it would all go when I went back to work and if I continued to work into 2012 (right now the goal is for me to quit by Christmas). Thank you for your thoughts. I also wanted to ask...you mentioned using a shield. I'm using one, too, as I've come to find out that most moms have had to use one, but I am feeling pressure to get off it. I wonder what your thoughts are on that. Right now, I"m in the mindset of "if it helps him and it helps me, what's the big deal". But I also want to not be dependent on it. Your thoughts? Did you feel pressure to get off the shiled (cause by the way you said "HAVE" in your post, I'm guessing you did". If so, was it hard, easy, natural, painful, etc? If I make the decision to do so, I'd like to get him off at one month, which is just a few days away. I have access to a lactation consultant for up to two months at Baylor, so I can go to her for help, but honestly, I don't wnat to have to. I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Stress Management | Living Well said...

[...] kind-of a funk this week.  And I think I know why.  But I already wrote a long-winded post about that here.  Yes, we’re done.  No, I haven’t cried yet.  Yes, it fees a little weird.  [...]

Rachael Weeks said...

Great post, Kati! You know where I stand on breastfeeding. This time around with Meagan has been a lot different since her digestive system isn't handling my milk as easily as Makayla's did. She gets so much gas even after burping several times during each feeding. I give her formula some already, just so Bryan can feed her without me having to pump, and so I can put some all natural "Colic Calm" in her bottle (which seems to help a little). I still love to BF though, and am so blessed to have been able to bond with both of my precious girls this way! :-)