Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Celebrating Life - 5 Thriving Trees

Yesterday I turned 32. These years of mine have been beautiful. 

I have an amazing family, wonderful friends and my days were and continue to be filled with love and laughter. Through my life I have accomplished a great many things, however, my three children are my far my greatest achievement.  So, for my birthday week, I am sharing some beautiful moments of 5 Thriving Mommies and their Trees of Life. 

These Trees represent the special bond each mother develops through nourishing their baby. While these trees are of breastfeeding mothers, no matter how you feed your baby, the relationship between mother and child is unlike any other. As I feel strongly about empowering fellow mothers to stand proud to be breastfeeding...wherever that may be (yes, I mean you shouldn't have to hide to feed your child), these special images are yet another way to normalize breastfeeding and accept just how completely natural it is. Nic, myself and 3 other mommies are here to share our unique stories. 

Em - I went into nursing the twins knowing that it was all tandem, all the time. When one ate, so did the other...even if that meant waking up the one since it was chow time. I loved every second of nursing those two and apparently I am kind of a big deal for nursing them as long as I did...367 days to be exact. Nothing but pure, premium breast milk. I pumped like a maniac from day one to establish oversupply and took great comfort in having painful, explosive boobs. Sharing that year with them was one of my greatest memories and I will forever treasure that time.

Now I am sharing those special moments again...but this time with just one baby. I had a great deal of anxiety going into this experience as I only know what to do with two babies. I had so many questions, but knew that all those emotions would dissipate once I got started. And they did.  While I faced the typical "New Mom Nursing & Supply Doubt", I again educated myself, sought support from my local lactation consultant (and doula Nic) and put complete and total faith in my body and trusted it knew what to do. I am approaching three months of exclusive nursing with my newest baby and am again loving each moment we share together in our special world. 

Nic - Having been breastfed into toddler hood myself, I knew breastfeeding was how I wanted to nourish my child but had concerns about being able to continue for a year or more while also working 40+ hour a week. I was blessed with oversupply, a full 3 months of maternity leave to establish good nursing habits, and a super supportive workplace that even had a dedicated "lactation room" steps from my desk to pump 2-3 times a day as needed to keep my supply up. My firstborn was slightly tongue tied which made him a slower nurser, but he loved his boob and often fell asleep nursing which we both enjoyed. While I had planned to nurse him until HE was ready to stop, once I became pregnant again the pain was unbearable and so I had to cut it short. It's hard to say who had more tears - him or me (probably me). I am still proud to have made it 21 months with him though, and cherish the many "brelfies" I took with him during that time!  
Here I share a moment with BK as I prepare to be a bridesmaid in my bestie's wedding. 

This is Henry, whose story is bittersweet. My youngest son seemed to hate nursing after the newborn period and nothing I did seemed to help. He pulled and thrashed and wiggled and fought me every single time. So while I have been able to exclusively breastfeed him for an entire year, (and he's definitely my fatter baby) our relationship is strained and we are currently weaning shortly after his 1st birthday. I'm sad to wean him so early, but he doesn't seem to mind/notice and really it's for the best. I'm also sad we didn't get to bond through that experience like I did with my first. But that's just how it is right? I did my best, that's all I can do. And really, nursing for at least 1 year is always my goal so I feel good about meeting that! 

Mrs. A  - This is Ronin and I her first week of life. Breastfeeding definitely did not come easy for me and in my opinion hurt way more then contractions!! However, we stuck with it and with a lot of support from my Hubs, Rae, Mom, doula, lactation specialist and veteran mommies and their secret weapons! We now are feeding with ease! Nursing is my favorite time with Ro and I'm so glad I'm able to give this to her.

Mrs. D - Being able to breastfeed my daughter was such an amazing experience. The bond I felt with her, knowing she was getting her every need filled by me, was so incredible. My BF journey didn't last as long as I would have liked, but I feel good knowing I was able to start her out on the right foot. I know some people pass judgement thinking that if you don't breastfeed exclusively for at least the first year, you are just lazy. I like to break that stereotype by explaining how hard I worked to maintain my supply as long as I could. Everyone's journey is personal and unique and I cherish the time I had. 

Mrs. C - Being pregnant with my first son I could not wait to start breastfeeding. At first it seemed so foreign and getting the first few latches required help from a lactation consultant in the hospital. I will be forever grateful to that woman who just grabbed my boob and showed me the ropes. Before long we got into a rhythm and he starting gaining weight steadily. My supply was never an issue and even after I went back to work I would pump three times a day up until he was just over one year. I will never forget the precious moment spent rocking and nursing my first. When I had my second son he latched within minutes of birth and I thought things would be just as easy with him. Overall I still had enough of a supply but barely. I was able to again pump at work but some days would not get enough for the next day and had to rely on a stash I accumulated while on leave. I was able to last just over a year but it was definitely more of a struggle. Overall I really loved every minute of breastfeeding my little guys and am proud I was able to solely provide their nutrition their first year of life with very little difficulty. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. 

Thank you to all the Thriving Mommies who shared their intimate moment with baby. We are so thankful to have been able to share your beautiful trees and appreciate you! Keep up the good work ladies and never doubt your choices, we are all wonderful mommies!

Strive to thrive, 

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