Four days after his due date, my son latched beautifully for the first time. He nursed like a pro from that day forward. To this day, I always say that if he could have chosen his own birthday, he would have been 4 days late. That’s when he was ready.
I was able to take a 15 week maternity leave, which was fabulous and then I went back to work part time, 3 days a week. He went to his grandparents while I was at work. This is when I had to start pumping again. I had stopped pumping shortly after he latched per the advice of an LC who could see that the pump was really stressing me out. Plus, I wanted to breastfeed him whenever possible and avoid bottles. In fact, he hadn’t had a single bottle in months when I dropped him off at my parent’s house. I hoped he would take the bottle, but I wasn’t sure that he would. He did and all was well.
I spent the first year of my son’s life thinking that I had low-to-just-enough supply because I’d never been able to pump very much. The most I ever got from a pumping session was 4 oz and usually it was more in the 2 oz range – from both breasts. It took me over a year to come to the conclusion that I am someone who just doesn’t perform well for the pump. Looking back on it now, I think he’s always gotten plenty of breast milk from nursing; my body just didn’t want to give it up for the pump.
I stopped pumping at 12.5 months because I wasn’t really getting much anyway, and switched to giving him whole milk from a cup while he was away from me. I haven’t had a “supply problem” since. Around that time, he completely rejected the bottle. He still loved to nurse, though. He would sign “milk” (we use the word “nurse”) as soon as I got home from work. At his one year appointment, his pediatrician actually informed me that he was no longer getting any calories or nutrition from my breast milk. I pretty much called bullsh*t on that one and didn’t ask him any more breastfeeding advice. It’s sad that someone in the medical community could be so uneducated on such an important subject.
At 15 months I thought he was weaning because he inexplicably refused my left breast for 48 hours. He took my right breast just fine. Forty-eight hours later, he took my left breast like nothing had ever happened. In hindsight, I think maybe he had a crick in his neck or something in it that made it temporarily uncomfortable to nurse on that side. He’s never done anything remotely like this since. I do wish I had pumped my left breast during that time though. I wouldn’t have gotten much but it would have been something. My left breast still produced, but was pretty lame compared to the right one.
Now, when I first embarked on this breastfeeding journey, I had the goal of going for one year. My mother breastfed me for 10 months and I thought if I can do more than that, that’ll be great! However, when his first birthday started to approach, it became very clear that neither he nor I were ready to be done. Sometime after his first birthday, we started offering him cow’s milk and snacks along with breastfeeding. Sometimes he wanted and enjoyed the milk and snacks, other times he asked to nurse instead. He was pretty adamant when he wanted to nurse and he always asked to nurse at least two times per day (first thing in the morning and when I get home from work are his favorites). He dropped his before bed feeding on his own around 9 months. At that point I started doing dream feeds, which I continued until 18 months when he no longer wanted them. Dream feeds were a life saver! They helped both of us get more sleep.
I really thought that he would choose to wean himself before the age of two. Before I had him, I had never heard of anyone nursing a child longer than 21 months. But he just wasn’t ready to wean yet. He knew what else was out there, but he seemed to prefer the good stuff that came from mama. ❤️