Blog to Inspire: Loving My Breast-only Baby

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This following post was an entry in our Blog to Inspire contest. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Eco Baby Steps or Parenting By Nature.

Baby Fingers profileBlog to Inspire entrant Baby Fingers is Jenny Harmon. She and her husband Jordan have two beautiful daughters, Suzi and Ivey. She’s been a mother for over two years, but she is just now learning to be a stay-at-home mom.

Even before I became pregnant with my first daughter, Suzi, I knew I would breastfeed. I thought everything would go beautifully. Then she was born. It started in the hospital with a nipple shield given with too little instruction. I had thought bottles and pacifiers were the only things that could cause nipple confusion, but they aren’t. Once we were finally rid of the nipple shield, which took great effort and many tears, the soreness was bad enough that I succumbed to temptation and gave Suzi a pacifier. We were in the middle of moving into our first house and my husband was unable to take time off from work, having just been hired. I had no business doing anything but lying on the couch nursing a baby, but instead I found myself cleaning and organizing the old house we rented at breakneck speed while my baby stayed with her grandparents. We didn’t think it would be safe to take her to the old house while we were cleaning, so during this time, she was bottlefed. It was milk I pumped for her, but I didn’t respond well even to a hospital-grade pump, and eventually I couldn’t keep up. When Suzi was six weeks old and I went back to work part-time, my supply suffered further because I was only able to pump once over a nearly seven hour separation. Suzi got a bottle of formula almost every day, which was exactly what I’d wanted to avoid. Still, our breastfeeding experience was beautiful in parts. She loved to comfort nurse, and I nursed her on cue whenever I was home. We kept going until she was 21 months old, at which time we mutually weaned partly because I was pregnant with her sister, Ivey.

Fresh out of the tub, Ivey nurses for the first time

Fresh out of the tub, Ivey nurses for the first time

I had learned my lesson and wanted things to be different this time. Instead of going back to the obstetrician who had delivered Suzi, I decided to go with a midwife. The one I chose had a deeper than usual respect for nature and the importance of allowing a woman to birth unobstructed. Ivey’s birth was a testament to the value of simplicity and trust in oneself. She was born in our bathtub on a rainy day in August. We climbed into bed and had our first blessedly uneventful nursing session—one of many. Her birth was the final deciding factor in exactly how I would breastfeed: Ivey has never used a pacifier or a bottle. This is a luxury to me, because I am now a stay-at-home mom. The difference it makes is astounding. My milk supply has been perfect—never too much or too little. I drank one cup of mother’s milk tea before I realized I didn’t need it.

We’ve found many benefits to going without the pacifier and bottle. We don’t have to worry, particularly during cold and flu season, whether or not the paci is clean. It’s less likely that we’ll contract thrush, which can be painful for moms. There are no bottles to sterilize either, and I am hoping to ward off ovulation for a few more months. We’ll never have to buy ten different bottles because she refused the first nine, nor will we have to go through the turmoil of taking the paci away when she is too old for it. I never have to wonder if Ivey is hungry or just wanting to suck; both scenarios end with her happily at my breast.

Of course, snubbing modern conveniences is always going to be met with a little resistance. We’ve heard from several relatives why it would be a good idea to give Ivey a paci. When she had her first portraits made, she cried a little and the photographer asked if she had a paci. “No,” my mother-in-law answered a little sadly. The pictures were adorable anyway; the photographer just had to get a little creative. Right now I am making a teensy sacrifice for her to remain a breast-only baby. My husband and I wanted to go to the midnight showing of New Moon, but we couldn’t. We have plans to take Ivey with us to a weekday matinee sometime soon. This way we can sit in the back and walk her or nurse her while we enjoy the movie.

The only drawback of our situation is that I must take Ivey everywhere I go. However, the greatest benefit is that I get to take Ivey everywhere I go! Everyone knows Ivey is coming too if they invite me somewhere. After my too-early separation from Suzi, every moment I spend with my girls is precious. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from birthing and nursing these two girls, it’s to not mess with perfection.

Read about the Blog to Inspire contest and read posts by the finalists and by the rest of the entrants. Forty-four bloggers reached out to inspire on the topics of cloth diapers, babywearing, breastfeeding, and natural parenting.

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