Mamahood

Latched…

I’m a big advocate of breastfeeding. Not the annoying kind as the only person I’m judging or putting pressure on when it comes to breastfeeding is myself.

Mabel took to breastfeeding like a fish to water. Luckily, we had no issues. She LOVED breastfeeding and I produced plenty of milk for her to feast on. And boy did she feast. She was fed on demand. Meaning there was no feeding schedule. I’m not even sure how I maintained that madness but I did. My goal was to get to a year. That one-year mark rolled around and there was just no way Mabel was going to give that up. It was more than nutrition to her, it was her comfort. She didn’t have a pacifier or a lovey. She had my breast and it solved Everything. I had to wean Mabel when Evelyn was 2 months old. So yes, Mabel was breastfed till after her second birthday. We went the distance and I’m really happy we did.

Evelyn took to breastfeeding pretty well too. But Evelyn’s relationship to it was not the same as Mabel’s. Evelyn could really take it or leave it. In hindsight, I think Evelyn was frustrated because she just wasn’t getting enough milk. I wasn’t producing like I did the first time round. I kept hearing from other people that “you are producing enough for what Evelyn needs” but my gut knew differently. When Evelyn turned two months and her weight wasn’t significantly increasing I had to pull the plug on Mabel abruptly. It was Evelyn’s turn solely. But that still didn’t help. Pumping was so disheartening as I could barely make a bottle. I had bruises all over my breasts from literally trying to squeeze every last drop into Evelyn’s mouth at every feed. There was no question she needed to be supplemented. And at 3 months that’s what I did.

The only person I’m judging or putting pressure on when it comes to breastfeeding is myself

It broke my heart. I had never mixed up a bottle of formula in my life. By 3.5 months my milk supply ran dry and that was an end of an era.

It was upsetting for a few reasons. One, Evelyn only received 3 months of exclusive breast milk. Two, breastfeeding was such a huge part of my life and sadly that chapter was done. Three, I was secretly thrilled that that chapter in my life was done. Yeah, I said it. The guilt that I have about that is a tough pill for me to swallow. I just have to honest about it. All of a sudden a new world opened up to me that I had been closed off to for 28 months. So yes I got a large part of my life back when I stopped breastfeeding but there is an ongoing ache that I couldn’t give Evelyn the greatest gift that I gave to Mabel.

I would love to hear if any moms weren’t able to breastfeed with their second child as long as they would have liked? What were your feelings about that? Do you feel your bond is any less with your second child because of it?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

From my home to yours,

Emma

Breastfeeding

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Julia-Selina Sch. says:

I’m still not a mother (unfortunately), but I can imagine how you feel. My mother has five children, four boys and me. Three of my brothers did not want to be breastfed. In my third oldest brother, my mother had to stop breastfeeding after two months because my brother got a milk allergy. For me, my mother had already weaned, though I wanted to be breastfed. *lol*

Because I fight for breast reconstruction, I will not breastfeed. Sounds definitely hard, but my chest is already big. My thoracic spine is not in order. I’ve only got hurt.

I hope you understand it?

Emma Heming Willis says:

I understood very well! Thank you for sharing your story xxxx

Lowri says:

Emma, what a lovely and honest account of your experience. I too breastfed my son on demand until he was nearly 2. It was demanding, exhausting, precious and comforting all at once. I really empathise with you on this. I just have the one son at the moment but I will update you on how I get on when and if the second one arrives as Im hoping to follow suit with him or her. To any Mothers having difficulty producing milk I would recommend the following: Drink a can of non-alcoholic beer everyday. I did all throughout my pregnancy and continued to do so whilst breastfeeding. It has an ingredient that helps produce the milk. Prepare soups, stews, broths as this also helps. Also snack on almonds. These all worked for me, I hope they do for you. Remember too the more stressed out you are about not breastfeeding correctly or not producing enough milk will reduce the milk production. So try and relax and roll with it and let nature take its course.

Emma Heming Willis says:

So true about stress. I think that caused a lot of my problems too. But all those recommendations to help with milk supply are spot on.
Thank you for sharing xx

Ashley says:

Hi Emma,
nice blog! I too breastfed my daughter (now almost 3) for 2 years, because it was going so well, she loved it, and for the second year it was such a calm, nurturing way to start and end the day. I only planned to do a year at best. At first I had a lot of difficulty with pain, toe-curling & tears pain. Apparently this was the “let down” and went away eventually by itself after the very first 5 weeks. Congrats to everyone who even just tries! It’s a big accomplishment.

Audrey says:

Im in complete awe of your latest blog. That is quite amazing to have been able to breastfeed Mabel for 2 years. I am sad for you that you didnt have that opportunity with Evelyn 🙁 and at the same time I completely understand that freedom must have been welcoming. I think that bonding comes many ways and 3 1/2 months is still fantastic.
WIth my first Alex… I did not get to hold her until the end and my time with her was limited. I was very sick and she was too. I did however pump and I remember vividly the moment I placed the pump on my breast and formed a 2nd nipple lol that was awkward for my dad who was in the room, What a trooper my dad was…. he never left my side. Still hasnt. We talk daily :). I gather that is why I have always had male friends and not so many female ones. Anyways, I pumped for a few days but she was not able to receive much of it. I healed and dried up rather quickly. Thomas was 3 weeks early and planned c section (to avoid my uturus from rupturing) and given an antibiotic to rule out any posibility of pnuemonia.. and there inlies the problem. That antibiotic destroyed his good and bad bacteria causing thrush in his mouth. He didnt latch on well either and some of that may have been his autism. Thrush (yeast infection) ended up on both of my breasts so I pumped at first by hand and then with a pump until I was bleeding and all sores. I was determined to not fail and I cried everytime I pumped. I kept detailed records of his first few months called the sanity schedule. Finally the Dr said I had to stop because I had mastits and with the antibiotic I was on it wasnt a good idea to continue feeding him from me. We had a month a long month :). He took the bottle well and I nutured the heck out of him he never lacked or needed anything. I knew that I wouldnt be having any more children (tubal ligation) and I had breast milk for 3 years. My Dr. thought maybe I had a brain tumor and I was checked. Turns out it was my mind refusing to let go. I didn’t regret being fixed but I regretted not being able to have children safely. As I type this my step daughter, Maisie (7) just curled up in my lap to give me a picture she made for me and its of hello kitty… it says Im the best mom ever and that she loves me so much. She made hello kitty have a thought bubble and inside it says I love my family. I asked her do I love my family and she said yes… very much. I guess that sums it up. Don’t we love our family… breast fed or not they love us too 🙂

Emma Heming Willis says:

Wow this is a painful but such a beautiful story.Thank you for sharing!
I love your determination. And the fact that you tried even when the pain was unbearable.
Lovely mom. All my best to you and your beautiful family xx

Gail says:

Hi Emma! As a mom to four little girls, I am really enjoying this blog! I had a similar experience with breastfeeding, however, it was with my first daughter. I had so many breast infections in the first 9 weeks that I had to pump after the third week as putting the baby to my breast was excruciating. I was heartbroken when the doctor told me to stop breastfeeding and pumping as the infections were getting worse and would require hospitalization if I did not stop. We had tried so long to get pregnant and eventually did through IVF so I really had my heart set on breastfeeding my baby. I seriously cried for about a month after I stopped. There was a small part of me that was glad to be done with breastfeeding as the whole experience was so painful and I just felt that I had tried so hard and couldn’t do it. I hated even the smell of the formula and felt so guilty for giving it to my baby. I had to console myself with the fact that I had at least given her 9 weeks of breastfeeding and that was better than not having done it at all. With my second daughter it was easier and she breastfed until she self-weaned at 13 months. My third daughter breastfed until she was 23 months old and it was her everything. Like your Mabel, my daughter wouldn’t take a pacifier and breastfeeding was more than nourishment for her, it was her comfort and security. People made comments to me all the time that she was too old to be breastfeeding after 18 months, but I knew I was doing the right thing for my daughter. I just couldn’t take it away from her until she was ready at almost two years old. My fourth daughter (a wonderful natural surprise at the age of 42 after 3 IVF babies!) is seven months old and loves to breastfeed as well. To answer your question about feeling a different bond with the one that was breastfed the least…I am as bonded to her as I am to her three sisters that came after her. You gave your little Evelyn the same wonderful gift that you gave Mabel…YOU as her Mommy! Please don’t feel guilty, we Moms are too tough on ourselves and deserve so much more credit than we allow ourselves. I felt so guilty about not being able to give my first daughter what I gave her sisters, but I realize now that I did the best job that I possibly could at that time and am grateful for the 9 weeks that I could give her. God Bless you and your family! Keep up the great work on the blog!

Emma Heming Willis says:

I really appreciate your comments. In fact I’m teary-eyed about it. So thank you.
Each experience with our little ones are different. We can plan it out how we want it but life just isn’t that way. Thank you for sharing your story with me and the others that visit xx

Molly Weber says:

I needed this blog post today. I had a huge oversupply and fed my now 18 month old son breastmilk until he was almost 16 months old (as well as donating to 3 other families in the process and helping to get their babies to a year on exclusive breastmilk). I am 7 weeks in with my second son and already dreading each feed, each pump, every ounce. My goal right now is to make it day by day. I think we allow ourselves so much guilt as mothers. Especially when it comes to the most “natural” of processes-making milk, losing baby weight, being well adjusted 🙂 We need to focus more on enjoying our babies!

Emma Heming Willis says:

I needed your comment today! We do need to focus of the joys our babies bring. I get so caught up in what I’m not doing and should be doing instead of just enjoying the journey of motherhood. Thank you for that reminder xx

barbara says:

Hi Emma! It’ the second time that I write on this fantastic blog and I’d like to tell you my breastfeeding experience. I breastfeeded my first daughter for only 6 months because she had gastroesophageal reflux disease and so she ate little milk and the milk reduced until it vanished! At the first time I felt sad and I cried a lot! I think you’ve been very good to nurse Mabel with your milk for 2 years, particularly since Breastfeeding is very tiring for a mom!! My second daughter has been nurse with my milk for 9 months and than my milk came down maybe i was very tired with two girls to look after! Breastfeeding is very difficult particulary since the mom sleeps not much isn’t it? However I think that if the mom feel well phisically and psychologically the children are placid. I hope you understand my english because I’m italian!! I wish you and your family well!! Kisses from Italy

Charley B. says:

May I ask if you veered worked with a lactation consultant when you had problems breastfeeding your 2nd? Maybe you left out some details but the way you wrote about your problems it sounded like you where self-diagnosing low milk supply and attempting to self-fix the issue. Too many BF mothers try to self-diagnose BF problems especially low milk supply or whether their milk is of sufficent quality and it’s way to easy to misdiagnose such issues, when your not an expert of BF. Even when low supply truly is an issue, too often they either give up on BF immediately due to the false assumption nothing can be done to fix their low supply or they employ fixes that only serve to worsen their problem. You may already know this but pumping is generally a poor indicator of supply levels because a pump, for many, is not as effective as a baby directly suckling at the breast. BF moms have been know to pump only drops yet be able to directly feed their baby at the breast just fine. Did you know if your 2nd might have had tongue tie? That condition is well know to effect the baby ability to draw milk from the breast properly effecting supply. It”s easily fixable allowing the baby to BF correctly again. There are also a number of medical conditions such as thy rode conditions that can effect BF that could explain why the 2nd time around went south unlike the 1st. A good certified lactation consultant can help diagnose these sorts of issue that can effect supply and suggest solutions or they will direct you to see a doctor when the issue is beyond their expertise. It’s rare for Low supply issues to crop up the 2nd time around when but not the first without some diagnosable cause (often but not always correctable). Just some things to consider if you do have a 3rd, unless you already knew all of that. Anyways, my comments where based solely on what you wrote so my appologies if you left out some details that render what I said moot in your case, though other moms trying or planning to BF might benefit from what I wrote in any case.

Emma Heming Willis says:

I did work with a lactation consultant. And we tried it all. Thank you for all the info as it will most definitely help other moms out there xxx

Rosetta Patafie says:

Hi emma, every supply is different with each… did it gave to do with mabel nursing while you were pregnant? I know I was told to stop nursing when I was pregnant or I would not have supply for the newborn? Maybe with the 3rd it will be like Mabel’s supply of breastmilk?

Emma Heming Willis says:

My doctor didn’t tell me to quit nursing. He had said if I had a history of prematurity in my family then I would have had to stop but I didn’t. And Mabel was about 5 days late. Who knows if that’s what effected my milk supply. I guess I’ll never know. And ha about the 3rd! I’m not sure I’ll ever find out 😉

JENNI says:

It is so great to read other mother’s struggles, just helps to know we are not alone and we all worry about similar things. I breastfed my son until 7.5 months. He had a dairy and soy intolerance, which meant I had to cut everything out of my diet. It was very hard, looking back though I wish I would have tried harder to make it to a year. My daughter is 14.5 months and I exclusively breastfed her until she was 13 months. I still feed her in the morning and at night. I feel like she needs the comfort as well, more than the nutrition. It really is the cure all for when they are upset. It’s hard knowing I could have breastfed my son longer if I would have been more willing to make the sacrifice. But he is a sweet and funny 2.5 year old and giving him formula made him grow up just as well as his sister. Thank you for sharing your experiences. We need to learn to cut ourselves more slack as a mother, but that is easier said than done! We wouldn’t worry so much if we didn’t care SO much!

Emma Heming Willis says:

It really is easier said than done. I try to cut myself some slack but I find myself riddled in guilt but really for what?! We are all doing the best we can. We love our kids and want the best for them. Bottom line. Thank you for sharing

Sara says:

Just be glad that you were able to breast feed at all. Appreciate! I have completely flat nipples and had to use a nipple cover in order for the baby to have something to latch onto. Could not lay down and breastfeed because of the covers and got literally no sleep. The lack of skin to skin contact decreased my supply and my baby would scream herself red and scratch me when the milk was finished because she was still hungry. I also had 4 mastitis infections and they were extremely difficult to get through, the pain was just unbearable. The last infection was mrsa based and anitibiotic resistant. To make a long story short I was facing sepsis (whole body inflammation) and could have died. I had very high fever for weeks and was either shaking/freezing/teeth chattering or sweating through my clothes and bed set. All that made me even sicker with a serious cough and non stop runny nose. Many times I thought I was going to die. To top it off I had an older child, no family or friends to lend me a hand and frequent arguments with husband. 3 ER visits, 10 doctor visits, 3 surgeries and 7K in medical bills later I healed. But breastfeeding is most definitely a luxury, because it takes so much for it to work. And many times, it just doesn’t. You’re not any less because it didn’t work out, you’re just as much because you wanted to do it and you would have if you could!

Emma Heming Willis says:

Thanks for your post. Yes from your side of the street I agree. I do very much appreciate that I could breastfeed at all. I’m sorry you had such a terrible and painful time. But you did try. You really really tried! Thank you for sharing your story xxx

Roxana says:

Hi Emma,
I can totally relate as I’m going through this right now. I breastfed my first son for 2 1/2 years; it was more than just food for him- it became a mothering tool that fixed everything. Oh how I miss those cuddles and moments we shared. He weaned a few months after becoming pregnant with baby #2. When baby #2 arrived, I looked forward to a similar breastfeeding journey. It became apparent quickly that things were not going right when baby failed to gain weight from breastfeeding alone. He couldn’t transfer milk due to a tongue tie. So I started pumping like a mad woman. We had the tongue tie clipped, and we worked with a lactation consultant but he was still unable to transfer enough milk. I tried for 3 solid months to breastfeed, pump, and feed. It was exhausting. I cried daily and mourned the loss of our breastfeeding relationship. Baby #2 is now 4 months old and I am pumping and bottle feeding. It’s very time consuming and I’m not sure how long I will last with the pumping routine. I’m still trying to process my feelings. Mommy guilt is just horrible. I just want you to know that I empathize and understand feeling heart broken about it. At the end of the day, we are doing our best to feed our little ones….and formula is not the devil; this article may be interesting for you: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/is-breast-feeding-really-better/?_r=0

Emma Heming Willis says:

Thank you for sharing your story. I really miss those days. And I’m sad i won’t get to have that same experience with Evelyn. Having to pump multiple times a day while you are trying to take care of your first born is tough. I know very well. You do what you can but you also have to look after yourself and your sanity. Great job Roxana xxx

Best for Babes says:

On behalf of all the mothers and babies we serve, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing your story in such an intimate, honest, non-judgmental way and for all the beautiful, encouraging responses you have posted to the experiences moms are sharing. You are filled with light! We would love to interview you and name you a Best for Babes Champions for Moms as we have Alyssa Milano, Jenna Elfman, Laila Ali, and others. We would love to share with you the work we are doing to take pressure OFF moms and put it on the Booby Traps(r) that keep them from achieving their personal goals. Early motherhood is such a precious time and moms deserve to be cheered on, coached and celebrated no matter how they feed their babies, without pressure, judgment or guilt. Cheers to you and all the lovely moms commenting here!

Emma Heming Willis says:

Wow thank you for this, truly. I would love to chat with you xxx

Ainslie says:

Hi Emma,
I totally appreciate your honesty on reason three! You should be thrilled to have your body all to yourself, and to not have to nurse when you’re trying or wanting to do something else. Enjoy. I’m nursing my 2 yr old right now, literally, and can’t wait fOr my freedom.

Emma Heming Willis says:

haha! I do love the freedom and you know what, I bond with my kids in other ways. Our relationship just evolved into something else that is really special too.
I’m happy I got to experience nursing with both.
Way to go with nursing your 2 yr old. I love hearing that 🙂 xx

Amanda says:

I have a 6mo old, my first, and has been exclusively breastfed until about a week ago (we started rice cereal once a day). My goal is to continue breastfeeding for at least a year. But I also plan on having more children.

I’m so nervous about what breastfeeding will be like during pregnancy and with a second child. I have an amazing bond with my baby girl and can only hope for the same with the next.

Emma Heming Willis says:

Speak to your OB about breastfeeding while being pregnant. Mine watched me closely but he was fine with me breastfeeding. He said it would have been a problem if there were a history of prematurity in my family. But there wasn’t and mabel was 5 days late. But I will tell you it hurt terribly!! But what could I do 🙂

Emily S says:

Thank you so much for sharing your breastfeeding journey in the public eye, to #normalizebreastfeeding.

I breastfed my two babes (ages 3.5 and 17 months) for a combined 30 months, and it’s one of my most prized accomplishments. I loved breastfeeding, and I miss it!

Emma Heming Willis says:

The fact that it needs normalizing drives me nuts. But yes I’m happy to be out there with all the other moms trying to #normalizebreastfeeding.
It’s a beautiful bond and I miss it too

Kristal says:

I am still breastfeeding my daughter who turned 2 years old in August (so 27 months of breastfeeding).
We found out we were expecting again when she was only 7 months old. And we were certainly shocked but also sooo excited! I continued nursing our daughter throughout my pregnancy. I worried that towards the end of my pregnancy her nursing would cause preterm labor but my OB assured it was just fine to keep nursing her.
Then the big day, her baby brother was born. He didn’t latch right on and go to town like my daughter though. So, I called in the LC, feeling dumb…like after breastfeeding my daughter so long I should be a pro right? Well, the wonderful LC came in and stuck her finger in his mouth and said he had a high roif in his mouth, that scared me, I thought she was getting ready to tell me it was a big problem. Instead she said it was quite normal, many babies have this(sigh of relief!) And sge showed me certain positions to help him latch better. One position was the “football hold” position and she added that would help since his big sis still nursed(I have one of the most beautiful pics of them tandem nursing the day we came home:)
Even when we got home it was still a struggle for him at times but we managed. I took fennel and fenugreek to boost my supply and help with my letdown as I did when my daughter was an infant.
Well, the struggle continued and here and there I’d supplement with a syringe of formula and slowly squirt it in his mouth while he was attached to my nipple and it seemed like after every time I’d do that he’d drift off satisfied so I was sure my milk Supply was low.
At his first doctor’s appt. she was satified with his weight and encouraged me to keep BFing. I mean, he did always have the right amout of wet and poopy diapers(you know, especially the plethora of poopy diapers in the newborn days).
And then, whammy…the rug, the world was ripped from beneath our feet. At just 26 days old he was stolen from us by SIDS… his last dr’s appt had been just 3 days before that and he was just shy of an ounce(a little less than an ounce)to being back at his birth weight. I believe if he hadn’t been taken he’d have become a pro at nursing like his sister because everyday he was getting better at it, we were getting better at it.
My whole point of telling my story is not to scare anyone just to share that my second go round at breastfeeding was not like the ease and seemingly perfection of my first go. And that my sweet little guy was taking his time. He didn’t lose a few ounces and gain them back in one week.
Yes, every baby and every nursing experience is, or can be different. And I don’t want to forget one single detail of my nursing memories with my son. *In memory of Dane Jr.*

To the admin, if you feel this is too upsetting or uncomfortable for other commenters/parents than feel free nit to post, I understand. But if that is the case, I’d just like you to know I love breastfeeding and I now also live shattering the taboo of speaking about infant death and SIDS. Both are unfortunately real. Just like my 26 days with him, growing and learning with him and from him were and continue to be real. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my story and experiences breastfeeding!

Emma Heming Willis says:

Hi Kristal… I’m the admin. This is your story and I’m touched that you shared your story. I’m terribly sorry for your loss. And those words don’t even do it any justice for the sadness that swept through my body reading your story.
I know that other mothers will find encouragement. Thank you
*In memory of Dane Jr*

Krysta says:

My first was a micropreemie.. So we had so many struggles. 5mo exclusive pumping (he was tube fed) a slow 2 week transition to exclusive nursing (bottles were far to difficult) but he took to it like a champ, it was slow because the Drs were worried. He nursed till 18mo when pregnancy made me to tender to nurse.
My second (a healthy termie) took to it easily and is still a big comfort nurser at 2.5 years.. Even managed to keep her latch through my 3rd pregnancy where she was only allowed to nurse once a month during the second trimester (peak of nipple tenderness).
My third was off from the the beginning. She loves to nurse but it didn’t feel right. I told her Ped who had her checked for a tounge tie. None was apparent.. So Injust went on.. Shortly after I realized she has a tie! A Lip tie! Apparently it runs in my family.
She likes to pull when she nurses which I find strange, she nurses best when I’m tandeming her sister or the pump (increases the flow), but she can still nurse well enough alone.
My supply does tend to dip when I don’t tandem for a day or so.. How long has it been since your supply dried up? Maybe your toddler could help bring it back?

Emma Heming Willis says:

What an amazing story! I loved that you kept at it even with all your struggles.
I remember how painful it was when Mabel was nursing while I was pregnant. Oh, and I had morning sickness for 4 months.
Mabel would love to bring it back I’m sure! But I think it would be confusing to her. She’s doing well and so is Evelyn. But I do think about relactating.
Thanks for your post. Great job mama xxx

Farrah says:

Hi Emma! I could feel your pain from where I am. I also share that certain feeling of breaking free even for a short “me” time. I breastfed my firstborn, a girl, only for a good 7 months — unfortunately, the mountains just dried up. I didn’t have support then how to keep producing milk and I was stressed and everyone around was just quick to point to me the formula. That was 11 years ago. Now, I have my second child, a boy, and I’m determined to give it at the most, a year If we can make it. But this boy is different from my girl, he drinks up like there’s no tomorrow so sometimes I wonder if I still have enough milk. I was told that our milk is 90% psychological and the remaining percent, physical. So I just keep those positive thoughts that I have a lot. Being a new mom again is stressful and tiring, yes, but I thought I need to have the will to do it or else, nada. Baby is turning 3 months and milk is still there so I just keep myself hydrated, lotsa water will do the trick, the BF advocates say. I also buy lactation cookies and drinks. Btw, Emma, have you thought about relactating?

Emma Heming Willis says:

I do think about relactating. But I hardly can take my multi vitamins at present cause I’m just busy with both kids. To put that work back into getting my milk supply going again seems daunting to me.
And good for you. Keep at it it sounds like you are doing great. I believe it is 90% psychological as it got the best of my second time around
Thank you for your post

Taylor says:

I have been conflicted lately about not nursing my second daughter, as long as my first. She is 10 months now and I’ve been thinking I want to transition her to a goat milk toddler formula after she turns one. I feel guilty, though, as my older daughter still occasionally nurses (she is 4) and she has been so healthy because of it. I feel like because I’m not having issues with nursing, it’s selfish for me to want to quit and not give Maple the advantage her sister had. Thank you for normalizing breastfeeding and for sharing this!

Emma Heming Willis says:

Goats milk is a wonderful way to go. You have to do what feels right for you and what suits your family. I know your dilemma too well. To get to 4 years and 10 months is just amazing. You are doing a wonderful job. Thank you for your post

Angela says:

I truly understand how you are feeling. I also BF My first until she was about 2. It seemed BF was the same for her as it was for your first. The comfort and safety was a big part of BF for her. I even continued BF after returning to work doing 12 hour shifts (days and nights). When my second was born I had already stopped BF my first. My second also took to the breast easily but she did not want to linger and just hang out at my breast like my first did. I never had a problem with my supply, but at 7-8 months she did not seem that interested any longer. By 11 months she had completely weaned herself. My third did the same. I was sad but also happy. I loved BF my kids but it was nice to have my body to myself again and the freedom of not being permanently attached to my kids. I know this sounds cold and not loving but don’t mistake me, I LOVE my kids with all my heart. They were ready to stop BF and they did not lack any nutrition or love. I feel that my bond is just as strong with my second and third as it is with my first. My kids are now 9, 7, and 4 and are happy and healthy. We are a close family that love each other very much. Even if I did not BF two of them until they were 2. 😉
Don’t think of the “what if’s” or the “if I was only able to’s”. Life is not going to be just how you want it to be all the time. You have to find the path that works for you and your family, and if that means not BF, oh well. It sounds like you gave BF everything you had. That is all you can ask of yourself. In the early years, I know BF seems like yours and your baby’s whole world, but in reality it is only a very small portion of it. Soon your baby will be a toddler, a child, a preteen, a teen, and then a grown person. You will have many more opportunities to create new bonds with your “baby” that will last a life time. Please don’t feel you have created any less of a bond or that you don’t love your child as much because you didn’t BF them. If you continue to do what is right for you and your family only good things can come of it.

Emma Heming Willis says:

You are amazing. Thank you for your post. I really needed to read this.
I don’t think you sound cold at all. I understand exactly what you mean as I’ve been through the same scenario too. We are allowed our little bit of freedom too 😉
Thank you for your post xxx

Rosetta Patafie says:

Yes you never know why it’s different from one to another, I know here in Canada we usually stop nursing when pregnant but who knows? Love your blog xo

Jennifer Guthrie says:

Beautiful family you have. I’m a mom of 5 kids age of 7 to 2 years old. I wish I could breastfeed all my babies but I wasn’t producing enough milk for them. Also my first born daughter Mia was born with a severe heart defect and required to have an open heart surgery at 2 days old. Of course it was hard watching your baby go through so much. Last Saturday was her 9th birthday. She didn’t make to live to her 2nd birthday. She passed away at age of 20 months old. I had 4 more children after her. I will always grieve over Mia for a long time. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m writing my book based on my experience of raising a severe heart defect baby. I still have a long way to go.

Emma Heming Willis says:

I’m so sorry. I can not imagine what life would be like after losing a child. Thank you for sharing your story. I really appreciate that. All the best to you and your precious family. I wish you all the luck with your book. I’m sure your story will touch many xxx

Lisa says:

Breastfed my first child for 21 months….it was not an easy journey as he was born at 36 weeks due to preeclampsia, but we did it. He never had a single drop of formula. My daughter, however, is a different story. She was born at 33+6 days also due to preeclampsia and had to be in the NICU. Pumping started off very well while she was there…..I delivered about 24 oz per day to the NICU daily, which was more than enough. When she came home, things changed. She started off doing ok with breastfeeding, but many things happened that caused a lot of stress. I didn’t even realize my milk supply was gone until we got to the pediatrician and realized she had stopped gaining weight (I didn’t even notice how thin she was….talk about guilt!). In any case, she was fairly exclusively on breast milk until 2 months and I made sure she got some milk (even if a couple ounces) daily until six months, but never was able to get my supply back. I have mixed feelings…..guilt of not giving her breast milk exclusively, guilt of not seeing her hunger (in hindsight, I should have), guilt of enjoying having my body back and not having a pump attached…..the list is endless…..But….she’s almost 10 months old and is 50th percentile for weight and height and on time for milestones (even though she is a preemie). She is happy. She seems healthy (only one very minor cold so far in her life). I will always recommend breast feeding to anyone who asks, but formula has helped my daughter develop into the happy little cherub she is.

Amy P says:

I had the opposite problem with my two.

I am the daughter of a La Leche League leader and always knew I would breastfeed, it’s in my blood! 😉

My first, a son was born at 28 weeks due to full blown HELLP. I started pumping that night deteined to breastfeed. My colostrum was black. The nurse in ICU asked are you sure they want this? I found out later they never used it.

I struggled for 4 months with supply. I out him to breast as soon as I could. I worked with two lactation consultants and the NICU nurses. We used nipple shields, supplemental nursers, I went back to the hospital for a week to try feeding on demand, tried every herbal supplement and reglan, pumped every 2 hours…. Nothing worked. I felt like a failure.

He is almost 7. He is healthy and thriving and we have an intense bond. He is a mamas boy.

My daughter is 3 months old. And Breastfeeding has been ridiculously easy (ok, maybe not easy)! But I don’t leak, I don’t get engorged, no nipple pain or chapping. I feel a little guilty because I know so many women suffer during those early weeks. And I am living the bond, but I don’t feel that it is stronger than my bond with my son. It is different, but not stronger. I think we bond with each child differently because they are different. They are individuals.

As mothers we do the best we can for each of our children. We don’t always attain the lofty goals we set for ourselves, but our children are none the wiser. They know they are loved, and that is all that matters.

Emma Heming Willis says:

It’ so interesting how nursing can vary so much from child to child. What your body choices to do first time round and then totally different next time. I never thought I would have issues nursing my second but I did.
Thank you for your post. All you can do is try and you gave it your all first time round. Happy that you are having a successful time with your daughter now!

Leigh Vagias says:

This blog hits home for me as I nursed my first daughter until 15 months and was unable to nurse my second daughter. My youngest was born with an upper lip tie and tongue tie. Even after a frenectomy at 10 days old she was still not gaining weight. It was a long two months, as I was determined not to give up. I tried everything! Multiple LCC, nursing then pumping, strictly pumping, SNS, even a nipple shield. Nothing worked because my little girl was not gaining. By that point my supply tanked. In the middle of all of this, I SEARCHED the internet for others who had experienced the same and I found NOTHING. I wanted so badly to nurse my second child just as I did my first. It was a very emotional time during those beginning months. I am happy to say that she is 8 months old now and chubby as can be! We are all happy and healthy. I am thankful to have had the experience nursing my oldest for many reasons, but also because it allowed me to know that “something just wasn’t right” while nursing my youngest. I’m not going to lie though…I caught a mommy bunny nursing a baby bunny outside my kitchen window one morning and I got teary eyed. It is still one of the most special things I’ve ever experienced, but I feel like I am a better mom for working through this trying time. Thank you so much for putting this out there…it still helps 8 months later:)

Emma Heming Willis says:

I just love hearing about your determination. Hear comes my cold comfort. You tried and thats all that matters even if the outcome is not what we would prefer. I go through my own guilt daily when i look at my Evelyn and Im looking at her A LOT. When ever I see a mom nursing I get teary eyed too. It’s just such a special time and I miss it. Thank you for your post xx

Krista says:

Emma,
I had a similar situation with breastfeeding with both kids. Alyssa was a champ, nursed her for 16 months and even then she wanted to continue, but I was in a position where I had to work so the weaning had to begin. With Xane, it was very difficult. He didn’t get the hang of it as quickly as his sister, and even when he did, I simply couldn’t produce enough to satisfy him. I began supplementing formula when he was 3 months old for the same reason, he wasn’t gaining enough weight. My heart was heavy, made worse by his love of the bottle!
By 6 months old he was only nursing at bedtime and morning, then at 10 months he was done…all on his own, just turned it down. Again, heartbroken, but resigned to the fact that every child is different yet wonderful in their differences.
I can safely say, however, that my bond and closeness with both kids is extremely strong, regardless of how much, often or how long they were breastfed.
PS–this experience was also my prelude to the fact that my kids are complete opposites in every way as far as personality, behaviors, etc. Lol 😉

Emma Heming Willis says:

Sometimes I try and find comfort in the fact that Evelyn really wasn’t that into it. You can only force that matter so much, right?
Good for you in trying, then you just have to do what you have to do. oxoxox

Katherine says:

Im currently 14 weeks pregnant and i just loved reading this!
Im so torn between breastfeeding or not? Theres so much controversy going on in the UK at the moment RE breastfeeding. People are being made to take their little ones to the bathroom to feed or cover themselves completely in a blanket or sheet!
This is fueling me to not want to breastfeed, this is my first so im scared and want to make the right decisions.
Katherine xx

Jessica says:

Hi Emma, this comment is late but I just stumbled upon your blog. It is fantastic! I struggled to breastfeed my 1st. After struggling around the clock for 6 weeks, we had to admit that it wasn’t working. At every Dr. Appointment, there was concern she was not gaining enough weight. I worked with LLL and tried many things, but she just didn’t take well to it. She loved this bottle eventually and we supplemented for weeks and eventually formula fed her. I take comfort in knowing she loved the bottle and that was her journey. With my new son, we have been exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months! We had to introduce him to a few bottles of formula when I came down with the stomach flu (Ewww!), but otherwise, he loves his breast milk. I have had kind of a reverse experience to yours. It does go on to prove that your experience with each one of your children are so different! Bless you for writing such a touching, honest, and real blog! 🙂

Kristen says:

I breastfed 3 and each experience was vastly different. I never made enough for my first. For 2 months we breastfed, then I pumped, then supplemented. At 2 months, she refused the breast. I pumped until she was 4 months when I finally gave myself permission to stop.

I so hoped my second would be different and we be successful. He was tongue tied. Breastfeeding was painful. His tongue tie was fixed at 2 weeks, he latched in the drs office and it felt so much better. He never again latched after that and would scream anytime the breast was offered. I pumped until he was 10 months old.

My youngest breastfed like a champ until I weaned her at 18 months.

I love all my kids and special relationships with all of them, but actually feel my bond with the 2nd one is the strongest.

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