When I chose to breastfeed my daughter, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t really have a plan, I didn’t educate myself before she was born. I just decided last minute that I wanted to give it a try, thinking that if it didn’t work out that I would fall back on formula. I hadn’t breastfed my first child 5 years earlier, and I the only person who I was close to who had nursed a child was my best friend who lived in another state. I would soon learn that having support during this journey was one of the most beneficial things I could have.
When my daughter was born, I held her close to my chest and watched her intently. About 30 minutes after birth, she began rooting. Rooting is when babies move their heads around looking for a nipple to latch onto. I had no clue what to do so the nurse helped me get her latched on, and she began to nurse. It was amazing to me to realize that my own body is capable of not only growing this perfect little human being for 40 weeks and birthing her, but also of sustaining her life for around 6 months after birth. I was in love.
That first night was an eye opener. Like I said, I had not prepared for this experience, so I was shocked and concerned when my baby was nursing for 45 minutes every hour or one and a half hours. The next morning I learned that this marathon nursing session was my baby’s way of stimulating my body to make more milk. The first several months of nursing were challenging and educational. One obstacle that my daughter faced was weight gain. I had read enough in her first two weeks of life to know that breastfed babies may tend to weigh less, and judging by her diapers, she was eating enough, so when the doctor told me that she was low on the growth chart, I tried to stay positive. It was difficult to hear that my baby was “too small” because her older brother had always been on the opposite end of the growth chart. Nonetheless, I stuck with nursing and she gained weight, slowly, but she gained.
When she was 20 weeks old, my cousin’s wife/best friend forever, Lacy Gutierrez, gave birth to her son who she also chose to breastfeed. It was so nice to finally have someone nearby who I could talk to about all things breast and baby related! We supported each other, we vented to one another, we took turns talking about how tired we were, how hungry we were, and how breastfeeding really didn’t help either of us lose our baby weight, but that’s ok because we didn’t really choose to breastfeed to lose weight. However it would have been a nice perk. Lacy faced several nursing challenges that I won’t get into, but I can say that I am very impressed with her drive to continue nursing. Seeing her strength gave me strength.
Fast forward 19 months, we are both nursing toddlers now! My little girl just turned 2 and her son is close behind. We had both talked about getting breastfeeding portraits done, but neither of us had done it yet. When you have 5 children combined, schedules get busy. One day she noticed that her son hadn’t nursed in over 24 hours! That is a long time when you are a nursing mama. He ate solid foods by then of course, so he wasn’t starving, but it made Lacy realize that these precious moments that we share with our babes are growing short. Neither of us have made plans to wean them, so as of right now, when they decide it is time to stop, then it is time to stop. Not knowing how much time we had left to capture our sweeties at this tender age, Lacy decided we needed some pictures asap. She invited my children and me along because her and I have both played a very important role in each other’s breastfeeding journeys. These pictures display the bond of two “breast friends” and their babies (big and small). Enjoy, and think about having your own portraits done soon because they don’t stay little for long!
By: Adrienne Beard