The journey has been frustrating, time-consuming, stressful and — sometimes — downright annoying.
But it's also been relaxing, comforting, rewarding and — overall — amazing.
I share this with you not to brag or push my choice on others to to make non-nursing mothers feel inferior. That is NEVER something I would do. Honestly, I share this to show other mothers that they are not alone, or weird, or some kind of freak. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I simply want to offer my support and my story.
Often times, society writes off breastfeeding as abnormal, weird or sexual. Breastfeeding mothers get told to give up, cover up or shut up far too often.
Well, I'm here to tell you that I didn't give up, I only cover up if I want to, and I'm obviously not shutting up about anything. (Good luck with that last one especially.)
So no, I'm not writing to push a decision on anyone. I'm writing because the support for breastfeeding in America is far too little. So many women struggle quietly each day and don't know where they can turn. So many women have had amazing experiences but are too embarrassed or ashamed to step up and let others know that they're proud of what they've accomplished. So many of us just lack basic support and education about something that can be potentially life saving.
In the early days of breastfeeding Kenlee, I found support in many forms. The first, and most important, was from my spouse. Kyle helped me in any way he could, short of finding a way to nurse for me. He would bring me water, snacks and whatever else I needed while I sat through those long early feedings. He researched potential solutions to thrush, oversupply and biting. And he cleaned pump parts, prepared bottles and just cheered me on every step of the way.
I also found support through lactation consultants. A wonderful woman at the local health department talked me through a very trying time. And nurses at the hospital answered the help line at all times of the day and night when I needed advice. These women are the front line for breastfeeding in the medical profession. Sadly, many doctors and nurses are not educated about breastfeeding and will often give misleading advice. I almost fell victim to this several times, and I'm glad I had the right people in my corner to steer me back on track.
I also found support online, with resources and support groups and all the information in the world. Kelly Mom became pretty much my breastfeeding Bible. Twitter chats such as #bfcafe were perfect for when I had a random question I didn't have time to make a phone call for. And a few moms from a chat board became close enough to message back and forth — just to know that someone else was having the same experiences and we were not alone.
I guess that's the main point of this post — to let breastfeeding mothers everywhere know that you are never alone. It may seem like no one has been through the same things or struggled to find the answers or just wanted to give in and give up on their goals. But we're HERE and we've been in your shoes. We may not live next door, or have your number, or be able to come over and fix your latch. But you can find us out there: at meetings, online or maybe even at work.
I've made it 14 months and counting, with no definite end in sight. My story may not be over, but I think by sharing it I'm making a stand for breastfeeding mothers (and babies) everywhere.