Breastfeeding Babies

My breastfeeding journey has been absolutely amazing. I have heard from many of my friends that it just wouldn't work for them. It was painful, they couldn't produce milk, they couldn't keep up with the need of their baby, they were just simply tired. Personally, I have never had this experience with breastfeeding. I did it with all my children and my results were mostly successful. But it's good to note, that every child was different. Some did it longer than others, some took bottles too, one refused, some I produced more than what I needed, one I was scared that I would dry up, some it was easy when I decided to stopped, one it was terrible. I am struggling right now with the decision of when to stop with my one year old, he is my last baby, so it makes my heart hurt to even think about it. But breast milk doesn't last forever, this is why it is called liquid gold. It's a blessing if you can make milk, and a miracle if you can get through the newborn faze still holding on. To all you Mama's who didn't get to do it, I hope my experience warms your heart. All those sweet moments you have holding your baby feeding them are just as important as mine, you nourished that little life. Now you get to laugh at my struggle with breastfeeding and be thankful it isn't your story!

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Baby David

I only breastfed for three months with my oldest child. It just didn't work well for him, so we stopped. Sometimes, it is not right for your child. And no matter how bad you want it, it isn't the best for them. It's hard to give up on the way you wanted things to go, but with my children I've learned, you have to follow the path in front of you. This isn't a GPS where you get to put an address in and map out your trip. Skip the tolls, add stops to get coffee, that just isn't parenthood. David taught me this quickly. With his autism, a lot of things didn't work for him. And I learned how to change and adapt quickly. How to eliminate things that didn't work for him to find out what did. And man, was it frustrating.

David screamed, a lot. Anytime he was awake for around the first six months of his life. He would only sleep when he was held or in his cradle swing. I was so scared that he would get brain damage from swinging too much that I remember setting an alarm to get up and turn it down until it stopped once he had fallen asleep. David starting breastfeeding great, just like all my other children. But he was always crying, it just felt like he was starving. Honestly, looking back at it now and knowing David, he struggled with sensory processing when he was a toddler, so I think the world was just way too much input for him. He was happy when he was held, comforted, rocked, sang to. I used to walk lines through my house bouncing him and singing every song in existence to get through those first six months. When we decided to switch to soy formula instead of breastfeeding, we did it for a weekend. By the end of the weekend, I got my first smile out of David, and we never looked back. It was heartbreaking giving up but I looked at it so differently. I had to take care of David and it didn't work for him, so it no longer worked for me.

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Baby Delilah

I breastfed exclusively with my daughter until a year old. Delilah was an easy baby. She ate, she slept, she smiled, she played, she was quiet. My first two children are only 17 months apart in age. From the time Delilah was born, she has adapted to being David's sister. Even now, at almost 7 years old, she is the best sister I could ever ask for. She is such a great role model for her older brother and her two younger brothers, and she knows how to put me in my place when I'm wrong. You better wear your seat belt with this girl and I promise, she will make sure that person not wearing a mask hears how they need to get over it and put one on. She is my leader and always has been such a strong girl.

Delilah was my preemie, but only spent 8 days in a special care unit, it's basically a NICU for less severe babies. Delilah never needed a breathing tube or feeding tube. She met every mark they asked of her so quickly. I stayed at the hospital with her, I never left. I rented a room and got up every two hours, traveled through the hospital to the unit to feed her. I was so protective over her that when we left the hospital, most the nurses were sad because they had never actually held her. I insisted she be never taken out of her incubator or messed with until feeding time, and thankfully they agreed. Delilah latched on and breastfed like a champ. I was pumping almost every time I fed her too, so we had a supply in case she needed it. I made so much milk, I ended up giving a bunch away because we never used it. Delilah breastfed until a year old, she never took formula and I can count on one hand the amount of times she took a bottle. Yes, you heard that right, she refused to take bottles. I remember trying to start waitressing when Delilah was six months old and people telling me that "she won't starve herself" when I explained she was refusing a bottle. A month later, I quit. I'm a professional photographer and at that time, I mainly worked with models. I have so many pictures of behind the scenes at sessions, and she is there. I'm babywearing her n a tula, she's sleeping on a blanket on the floor, or being held by one of the models. When she was a year old, I decided to stop. Just one day, cold turkey, stop. And Delilah screamed, for weeks. By the time I realized that she wasn't going to stop and tried to latch her on again, nothing came out. It was terrible and it is by far my worst breastfeeding moment. She did get through it about a month later and returned to her happy self, but I wouldn't recommend this route. Absolutely heartbreaking.

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Baby Duncan

I breastfed exclusively with Duncan until 20 months old, yes you heard that right, he was almost 2 years old. Now this might work for some people, but my goal was to stop before 18 months old. I swear in the end, I felt like I was dying. I had such a bad time stopping with Delilah that I contacted a handful of my friends who had breastfed for advice and almost all of them said they went past a year and their child just stopped one day, they just didn't want it anymore. That might be the case with some babies, but not Duncan. I really think they all might have gotten together and decided to lie to me, probably not but it sure felt like it. Duncan did not sleep through the night and woke up one to two times to nurse. When he was 20 months old, I just stopped, cold turkey. I had recently found out that I was pregnant and every time I nursed him, I felt like I was going to pass out. He was only nursing at nap time and bedtime by then so it wasn't too hard, he was over it a few days later.

Duncan was a pretty easy baby and was much younger than his siblings, Delilah was 3 and 1/2 and David was 5. He got a lot more one on one attention than any of my other babies since both of his older siblings left to see their Dad a few days a week. When Duncan was a baby, I had my first professional photography studio and  I remember him sleeping at an art show when he was only a few weeks old. He pretty much grew up there and it's because of him that I switched the focus in my business to baby's first year. After Duncan, I stepped away from art shows. I do participate in them from time to time now, but not like I used to. I miss the shows, but I am so happy with the choice I've made. My family time is simply too important and other than missing out on selling artwork, I don't miss it.

Duncan was born with a kidney disease and was my scariest pregnancy. I remember the first time they told me about his condition, we were told they couldn't locate either kidney, he had a large unknown mass in his abdomen that looked like a tumor, and they weren't sure how he was alive or if he would survive outside my womb. I cried for a week straight. I was only 18 weeks pregnant. I self shot myself knowing that it could be the last image with him in my belly. I was scared to miscarry at any time. Then we went for our MRI at Lurie's Children's Hospital in Chicago. I was so nervous that morning, but it helped that everyone was so kind to us. The tech in the room could tell that I was holding back my tears and talked me through everything. After our imaging, we sat and waited. It felt like the longest half hour of my life, complete torture. But once we walked into the room and saw the smiling faces of his new team, my heart knew everything would be okay. They laid out a few options on what was wrong with him and ensured us that all options were things they could fix. Duncan is now three years old and is perfectly healthy, his kidney has never effected his health. I personally feel like my breast milk is 100% responsible for Duncan's good health. I take supplements made by Shaklee, they are a company that has such a high quality product that it's chosen by tons of Olympians! He got all the goodness out of my breast milk and is now the smartest little toddler I have ever met!

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Baby Drew

My youngest child just turned a year old last week and still breastfeeds half the time, we also supplement with soy formula. Now, I've never done this with any of my other children and it was very scary at first. With breast milk, if you don't use it you will lose it, so I was constantly worried that I would dry up. And I have, but only on one side. Yes, if you have never breastfed be warned, you will end up lopsided during at least one part of your journey.

Drew takes both bottles and breastfeeding well and always has. I work a lot more often than I did with my other children, so I have to leave him a few days a week. I could only afford to take four weeks off when Drew was born, and still ended up photographing a newborn once a week during that first month. They were all friends of mine who let me bring him with, they held my baby and I photographed theirs! The flexibility of my job is amazing but this is also the main reason why I expect Drew to be my last child, having a newborn and being a working Mom was terrible for my mental health. Thankfully, I have an amazing support system and I got through that first few months, but I never had to deal with that with my other children. It's also why we chose to supplement, I just can't keep up with pumping while I'm gone. Not only is it completely stressful, it isn't logical at all and I give mad props to any Mom who works full time and pumps. You are the real MVP. We chose soy formula because I'm lactose intolerant. Drew had never had dairy before since it's not in my breast milk so chose the best option for our situation. And it worked! When we made it to a year, I seriously danced in my kitchen! The day I gave him formula, I was so sad because I felt we would never make it to a year. But we did! And I'm not sure when we plan to stop, that is still something I'm working on. All I know is that I want it to happen naturally, whenever it is best for us. I kind of hope that my friends weren't lying and babies really do stop on their own, because that would be magical. But I also know that I am strong enough to make the choice when needed and stick to it. I have an amazing partner, so in a perfect world, I could just run away for the weekend and come back without milk. For all those sleepless nights breastfeeding while he's sound asleep, I think I may have earned it!

I would love to know your breastfeeding experience. Please comment and give your advice on what I should do with Drew too! I may be a veteran breast feeder but in my opinion, stopping is much harder than starting. And this Mama might pull her hair out if this baby refuses to stop like his older brother did! Feel free to message us below to subscribe to our mailing list. You can also follow our Instagram account!

  • Tiffany Swain

    on August 8, 2020

    Awe stefi!!! You have come so far with breastfeeding!! Your journey with all four of your precious babies is amazing!!! I myself couldn't and didn't want to breastfeed but reading yours makes my heart happy!!!