August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and we're celebrating with a
pretty awesome sponsored post + giveaway from mom and baby brand, Itzy Ritzy.
Thirty-nine months. Thirty-nine months without a single break.
Each day I run the gamut of feelings. Proud and triumphant that I've exclusively nursed two of my children this long but also selfishly looking forward to the end, although nowhere in sight, for a time when I may regain a bit more of my self for myself.
I never intended to nurse my second child for as long as I did. In fact, "extended nursing" was never a part of my vocabulary and certainly not something I saw myself doing with my own children but if I've learned one thing as a mother, one solitary truth, it's "never say never."
Not only did I nurse my second child well into toddler-hood but I simultaneously and unexpectedly nursed him throughout my entire third pregnancy. I kept waiting for my milk to dry up or at the very least to change "flavor" as all of the books said it would. Needless to say, that day never came and my second child nursed happily through my first trimester, my second and quickly through my third.
The final day we nursed was the day I brought his baby brother home from the hospital.
People always ask if breastfeeding came more easily the third time around, especially since I nursed through my entire pregnancy and the truth is there was still quite a learning curve associated with nursing the newest member of our family. Each baby is different and there was still plenty of time where we both need to learn each other and together how to do this thing.
Regardless of how a mother feeds her baby, I support her.
I've done both- formula fed a baby and exclusively nursed a baby and any mother who has done either can empathize with the flood of emotions and sacrifice that comes with them. I've struggled and I've celebrated. I've been the encourager and the supporter and I've been encouraged and supported. I've even given up nursing when it was the best decision for both me and my baby at the time.
It's okay to give up. Not many women will say this but the truth is, it's okay to try and try again and give up if you can't go on any longer. I did that exact thing with my first born and we're both better because of it.
In the months after my first son was born, I looked at breastfeeding him like it was a chore. Something that I had to do for the sake of my baby because all of the books and the lactation consultants told me I had to. I didn't enjoy it and truth be told neither did he. I pumped in between feedings, he preferred one side over the other and I forced him to eat from both as I was instructed time and time again. I pumped and fed through sore, cracked nipples, uncomfortable positions and an uninterested baby. Even writing this, my toes curl when I think back to this time. It was awful.
When we switched over to formula it was as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders, a black cloud whisked away from over our heads. We were both much happier because I decided to stop nursing him and it was one of the best decisions I made at that time.
As I said earlier, every baby is different and deciding to breastfeed again (and again) and continuing to do so required the support and understanding of friends and family. It required time, patience, dedication and the ability to let go of what everyone else thought I should be doing and how I should be doing it.
I don't know what made nursing my second and my third baby so different and such an incredible experience from the first. I was different, the baby was different. We were both more laid back. I let go of things that stressed me out and didn't press on when I felt like it wasn't good or healthy for us both.
I also let go of the shame and stigma I felt was associated with nursing in public. As is the case with successive children, I didn't have the luxury of holing myself up all day long in the house nursing my newborn. My oldest had a schedule that we had to maintain and that meant feeding his brother(s) wherever and whenever possible.
While I didn't always use a dedicated nursing scarf or cover during our public feeding escapades, I always made sure I had a swaddle on hand to drape over the baby's head so as not to expose myself. In many instances, without even so much as a swaddle on hand I had to be creative and grab whatever was within reach! Sometimes that meant I used a cloth napkin, bib or even one of the older boys' jackets.
As it was (and still is) my personal decision to be a discreet nurser, it's nice to know that there are products on the market, like this infinity nursing scarf by Itzy Ritzy, designed to support a mother should she choose to use one while feeding her baby in public. While not as bulky and discombobulating as some of the dedicated nursing covers on the market, this lightweight scarf is designed to be multi-functional as it could be used as a stylish accessory, blanket for your baby as well as a nursing cover.
Personally, I love that I'm able to lightly drape it over his head while I'm able to maintain coverage from both my front and backside. This comes in handy especially when Mr. Grabby Hands gets a little excited and pulls the neckline of my shirt down to my navel. I've also used the scarf in the car as an excellent way to block light from pouring in and disturbing the hard to come by peaceful car nap during a particularly arduous road trip.
Thirty nine months and I'm grateful for every single minute, every single hand on chest, every single side smile as those eyes gazed up at mine. Thirty-nine months. Here's to at least a few more!
Itzy Ritzy is celebrating their new chain-wide release at Target by offering one reader one of their ultra stylish and functional breastfeeding scarves as well as a $50 Target gift card. Enter below using the Rafflecopter widget and be sure to read all terms and conditions before entering. Good luck and Happy National Breastfeeding Awareness Month!