mama story: what I learned from nursing four babies in eight years
Today's gorgeous mama story comes from Dani Kline in Wichita, Kansas.
Oh breastfeeding! It is the most empowering, stressful, loving and overwhelming thing my body has done besides give birth of course.
I had our first child, Lila, when I was 21 years young.
Breastfeeding was so important to me and I was blessed with the support of my husband and family and friends. Nothing prepared me for the first weeks, the swelling, the pain, the cracked nipples and leaking boobs. A few weeks in I got a fever. I could barely move, let alone walk. With my husband working I called my mom and she took me in to the doctor. I had a massive case of mastitis. I had NEVER even heard of it. At the time all of my friends were either single or not yet in motherhood. After antibiotics and lots of warm wash rags after feedings and pumps I finally got better. However, around 3 months in, one side dried up and I was so insecure about being lopsided I let the other one dry up. My advice to myself now would have been to stick it out! It truly is worth it.
With my next two sons, it was so easy.
Zeb latched on seconds after he was born I over produced and had to pump. He started eating so much food and my supply started to wain around 8 months. The same thing happened with our next son Kael. I had Kael and started a new job, I pumped at work and feed him through the night and stopped around 7 months. I was awful at asking for help or allowing my husband to help with night feedings, I was so freaking stuck on nursing that I wore myself down. I've always been an over supply person, having to pump to make sure I could release.
Then came sweet Koen in August of 2016. That is the story I really want to share.
I am a teacher so I knew I would have to pump at work. I would pack my pump parts the night before and I did the whole tip of putting all the parts in a gallon size bag and into my fridge between work pumps. This cut down on so much time! We figured Koen would be our last so I wanted to enjoy every moment.
There were seven years in between our first and our last; I gained so much knowledge in that time.
I learned to ask for help. If you take away nothing else from my experience, please take away ASKING FOR HELP. I also learned to advocate for myself at home and at work. Most importantly I grew as a woman and mama and made the choice for me, I would nurse as long as Koen needed and wanted.
Koen and I had the dream going, I would nurse in the morning, pump 2-3 times at work and nurse him afternoons and evenings. This all changed when Koen was hospitalized with RSV and pneumonia at only 5 months old. Koen refused to eat, he refused to latch and just like that I became an exclusive pumper.
I won't lie, I cried a lot. I felt like a failure and I felt like something had been taken from me.
I wanted so badly to make it a year for Koen. This is when I made the choice to exclusively pump. I pumped morning, noon, afternoon and night! I learned it was not about how I was giving him breast milk but the fact that I he was getting that milk.
I pumped my heart out, even enough to help my sister out with my nephew. We made it to the year mark before my pump died on me. I tend to joke my boobs are "cheap" and the awesome expensive nice pumps did not stimulate enough. I could have gotten another pump and kept going but I felt like we were both ok. We made it our year. And to be honest, I was ready to have my body back. With four babies in eight years, I reached a point of peace and was able to stop pumping.
This is just my story, all of our stories are unique to us and to our babies.
I want you to know mama, it doesn't matter if you make it a week, a month,a year or three years, you are amazing!
You are stronger than you think and can do this. Even on the hard days, the sleepless days, the wonderful days: you are doing a great job.