Not your typical breastfeeding post…..

If you’re looking for a post that’s going to tell you that you SHOULD breastfeed, or attempt to make you feel guilty because you’re NOT going to or don’t want to breastfeed, you’re in the wrong place.

To breastfeed or NOT to breastfeed…..

This is more a place for moms who are on the fence about breastfeeding, and quite possibly for moms who ARE breastfeeding and thinking everything I’m about to say but don’t because you have more tact than I do… which is probably a good thing.

As many of you reading already know, 16 years ago I gave birth to the most perfect baby ever. It’s hard to believe that baby now towers over me, talks about boys, wears makeup (occasionally) and is talking about college, but here we are. It is ALSO hard to believe that as I’m preparing one to be a junior in highschool, I’m also prepping for the 1st birthday of my second birth child.

When the first baby was born 16 years ago, it wasn’t a question. Formula was my only choice. Her father didn’t really have an opinion one way or anther, and I was going back to school and work 4 weeks after her birth so I never gave breastfeeding a second thought.

Bow from:
Mimi’s Tutu Parlor

When my SO and I began discussing our wants and needs for this pregnancy/delivery/baby raising, breastfeeding was something that was important to my SO, not me. Quite honestly I found myself in a different place because of my age, my job, my goals, my belief systems, and past experiences. Truth be told, pregnancy was really rough on me, and my mental health had tanked in a LOT of ways so old memories crept up and forced me to deal with them again.

As we talked about breastfeeding or formula feeding, the memory of being molested as a little girl was brought front and center. This was the main reason I didn’t breastfeed with my first birth child, and the other factors I had going on in my life at the time just reinforced that I was making the right decision to formula feed. This time around was a bit different as many of the stressors and obligations I had 16 years ago were no longer an issue for me. I was done with college, I was going to work from home, my other kids are old enough to be (mostly) self sufficient. It really just came down to deciding if I could get over it and give it a shot.

Waiting to be induced!

Now, I want to make one thing VERY clear here…. My SO really wanted me to breastfeed. He was also aware of my childhood experiences, and the bullying that followed and how that had affected me throughout my life. He was also extremely aware of where my head was (and wasn’t) throughout this pregnancy and he was a champ. As much as he REALLY wanted me to do this, if I’d said I couldn’t do it, he would have been okay with it. AND, had he NOT been okay with it, I would not have EVER let him force me to do it and I’d probably be writing a blog on coparenting an infant with an ex. I don’t think ANYONE has the right to tell you to just get over it. My SO was always great about understanding that this was 50% HIS baby, but 100% MY body and as such, there were many things that I got the final say on.

Our final agreement is that I would try, but if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t. If I could, then it was baby steps in timeframes… 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, etc…. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that almost eight months later I’d still be breastfeeding.

He obviously loves me, and I’m so high I love everybody….

I have to admit moments after she was born she latched automatically. It was a really special moment that I will probably never forget. My SO got to help with the latch, and in that moment we were the only three people in the room. This bliss was only momentary, and I’m happy to share the ups and downs with you.

My situation: I am currently a stay at home mom. It wasn’t initially going to be this way, but it’s just easier right now for us.

Does it hurt? Initially no… a few days later it feels like someone is raking razor blades across your nipples and then they adjust and it doesn’t hurt at all. (At least until they get teeth, or so I’m told. We’re not there yet.) There were some days there that every time she latched I cried and said lots of bad words. But LITERALLY, that’s only a week, if that, or so. Nipple cream is your friend. It doesn’t last forever so don’t let that be the deciding factor.

Is it easy? Yes. You’ll figure out your system and you’ll be off and running. I had to watch videos on Youtube and read websites because I literally had not ONE clue how this all works, but a little research points you in the right direction, and Mother Nature will take care of the rest.

CharlieJoy prefers boob to bottle. Obviously.

Is it convenient? For Me? Not in the slightest. I’m the only one that can feed the baby. I don’t pump because I don’t have time (more on this later), so literally every time the baby has to be fed I have to stop what I’m doing and feed her. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, taking a shower, sleeping, taking 37 seconds to myself, it all stops because nobody else has boobs with milk in them. If you don’t mind that, then breastfeeding is for you. If you have two teenagers, your mom, a husband AND a house, PLUS the baby, then you’re gonna make some concessions like taking a shower, brushing your teeth and sleep, or you’re going to want to make sure you have a good backup system to help out with your everyday routine that you will no longer have time for.

You haven’t lived until you’ve pulled a boob out in Chic-Fil-A.

How is nursing in public? People look. You’ll notice it more in the beginning. By the time you make it to my point, you’re googling nursing t-shirts with people flipping the bird because you literally DO. NOT. CARE. You will pull a boob out in the middle of the cereal aisle in Walmart to quiet a screaming baby, regardless of how many old men, five year old children or baptist ladies are standing there, and you will keep right on moving with deciding between Cheerios and Fruit Loops. I promise.

How does your SO and other kids feel about it? My SO has done fine. He’s a help when I need a shoulder covered or don’t realize I haven’t put my clothes back on. The older kids have gotten used to it. It was weird at first, but they’re fine with it. I’m fairly discreet about it, so that probably helps.

Pumping in the car.

Do you really bond? You do. It’s just different. I don’t feel any closer to Charlie than I do Grace, but it IS different. Ask me again when Charlie is 16 and I’ll tell you how it all turned out.

Biting/Pulling/Clawing: We don’t have teeth, and I’m not looking forward to that part. She DOES pull hair and she DOES claw. That part sucks. Trimming nails helps, but I woke up the other morning to having my nipple pinched. Welcome to co-sleeping with a seven month old.

Do I stockpile milk? Nope. Never even felt the need. I did a lot of reading on that thinking that I should do it, but then I ran across something that said if you’re stockpiling for daycare, remember that you only need enough to get through the FIRST DAY and that changed my whole mentality. I think the only time you need to worry about stockpiling is if you’re worried that your milk might dry up and you’ll have to formula feed before you’re ready. If it’s for daycare, remember you’ll pump that first day and that will give you then next days milk. Of course, pumping a few bottles ahead is never a bad thing which the few days I’ve sent her to daycare, has come in handy.

Anytime you wanna go anywhere this is part of getting ready…

What pump do I use? Spectra 2. It’s awesome. I’ve never had one problem with it. I got it because it is able to suck clogs out. Or so it says… I’ve never actually had one, but just in case, I didn’t want to be stuck. If I got another one, I’d want the Spectra 9 hands free. I would probably pump more if I had that so that I could still be productive while pumping. The Spectra 2 keeps me tied to the chair, couch, or bed. At night it’s not so bad, but when you’re up moving, it sucks to have to go sit down for 25 minutes at a time when you have other things you need to finish.

Did you introduce solids or are you waiting? We started on solids at month 4. She wanted to eat. It was totally baby led. There are ALL SORTS of groups that will JUMP YOUR CASE for giving a baby solids before a year if you’re breastfeeding, but truly, I think it’s a personal choice. For us, if she wants to eat, she eats. If she doesn’t, I don’t worry about it because she’s breastfed. I know that she’s getting what she needs from me.

Pumping at work… the parking lot of the Federal Courthouse. It was a LONG day.

How long will I breastfeed? The goal now is one year. I have four and a half months left. There are days when I’m ready to throw the towel in because I just want to sleep for one damn night, or take a shower while someone else feeds the baby, or just finish one freakin’ thing without having to stop and nurse, but literally I blinked and my firstborn is ready to start driving. This too will be over before I know it. There are so many times when it just sucks. There are so many days when I look down at her and I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. There are times I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be a mom again and have this little moment before she realizes her dad is more fun, or she’d rather hang out with her friends.

CharlieJoy’s Tree Of Life Photo. The only public photo you’ll ever see of my breastfeeding journey.

Would I do it again? Yes. Absolutely.

Would I do it differently? Yes. Absolutely. I would have a handsfree pump in addition to my Spectra. I would exclusively breastfeed for some currently undetermined period of time and I would pump from that point on. Doing so would allow others to step up and help giving me the opportunity to take care of things that need to be done and take care of myself as well.

Overall. breastfeeding has been a great experience. It has definitely not been a bed of roses, but there was never anything so great as to deter me from trying it or that would make me stop. I say that to say that I think there’s a misconception that this is the most amazing, beautiful, simple, and natural thing a woman can do. For some, maybe that’s true, but for me, it’s not. I write this to the woman who feels overwhelmed by the pro-breastfeeding community and just isn’t sure she agrees or belongs, or the woman who isn’t sure she can do it. You CAN, and if you choose not to, THAT’S OKAY TOO.

My AMA Pregnancy Journey Part One: I’M PREGNANT

If you know me personally, my pregnancy was pretty well documented on Facebook and Instagram. During that time I received so many comments and a lot of support – not that my journey wasn’t without it’s negativity for any number of reasons. I’m going to share to my pregnancy here, and of course, I’m pretty much an open book, believing that women should lift each other up, so if you have questions, please feel free to comment here or send me an email at SincerelyCJinFL@gmail.com.

I intend for this to be a multi-part series. There’s really no way to cover it all in one post and I’m hoping it will be a relief to others out there who are trying to conceive, are AMA, post DVT, unexpectedly pregnant and the like.

Some of this will seem negative, some will be graphic. I’m one of those “Don’t make it pretty, just tell it like it is” kind of people. If you find a part of these posts that seem terrible or make you think I hate my SO, kids, life, family, or this baby, just know right now that I don’t. I’m sharing my thought process and it will come back around, so just hang in there. I find it really frustrating that I’m supposed to keep a happy face and pretend everything is perfect or the most amazing thing in the world just because I’m a mom. It’s not. And I refuse to pretend it is. HOWEVER, it’s a bad five minutes, not a bad life.

Nothing I share is intended to be taken as medical advice or the gospel truth. ALWAYS make informed decisions based on recommendations provided from YOUR own doctors and health care providers. This is MY own experience and yours may differ greatly.

Circa 1995 or 1996

First of all, while my SO and I have known each other since we were 14 and 15 years old (that means 25 years), we’d only been dating for 11 months when we got pregnant. We had literally just gotten engaged on July 1st of 2018, we celebrated our birthday on September 8th (I turned 40 and he turned 39), and boom, four quick weeks later on October 5th… we’re pregnant.

Circa 2018

I think there was this assumption that we were somehow trying, or planning to get pregnant, wanted to get pregnant, thought having a baby right at that moment would be literally the best thing we could ever do… FALSE, it’s all so far from the truth it’s not even funny. I’ve seen a few snide looks whenever I tell people that this wasn’t a planned thing and it always irks me.

I had a 14 year old at home, he had a 17 year old. Literally, we’re looking at planning a wedding and within just a couple of years being two people, head over heels in love, who were in our early 40’s with the ability to do whatever whenever, and most importantly wherever. We were batting around moving out of the country, not gender reveal ideas.

In terms of kids, we WERE considering adoption and there are reasons for that. 1: Adoption sits close to BOTH our hearts. 2: As previously mentioned, I had a 14 year old, he had a 17 year old… I have yet to be informed that the process to get pregnant has changed… and we both only had one. Neither one of us has even had so much as a pregnancy scare, so we were 98% positive that pregnancy wasn’t an option for either of us. I also have DVT (deep vein thrombosis) history so I’d been told for years that more kids wasn’t an option for me.

We had actually already looked through available children, got the paperwork, made an appointment with an adoption counselor so we could go in and sit down and really start to get our ducks in a row. I remember joking with my SO about folks that start this adoption process and wind up pregnant. Thank God we’d never be those poor souls…. One day I’m going to learn to just be quiet. I might be dead when it happens, but one of these days it’s going to happen.

Anyway… I actually only took a pregnancy test because my SO suggested it. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that I might be pregnant. I figured I’d take the test, it would be some stress related thing that was causing me to be late and the test would kinda kick things in gear and all would be good.

The stupid test was supposed to be a 4 minute test… in my case it was like a 37 second test. It was one of those “you’ve got to be f$%$ing kidding me” moments. I walked out of the bathroom and took the test straight to my SO who’d gone outside to water the horses.

Well… That was unexpected.

Now, mind you… we’d made so many plans for this time in our lives. We had things we were going to accomplish, renovations, trips, our kids had things they needed and wanted, new car, a Harley, emergency funds, school loans, maybe a credit score or two, there was a whole list… We had said to each other that for all the things we would get to experience and accomplish, having birth children together was one that we would always be a little sad about because at this age, it just wasn’t an option. No way were we starting over. And… well… that explains the whole train wreck I was as I walked out the front door on a full fledged completely selfish mission to completely wreck delivering the news about being knocked up because I refused to have this nervous breakdown by myself…

If you can picture me walking out of my 1984 trailer home that is in desperate need of renovation, wearing only a tshirt and underwear, barefoot, yesterday’s makeup, bed head, and a lit camel in my hand (yup, it’s as bad as it sounds)…. My SO turned around and looked at me, looked at the cigarette in my hand, and then looked back at me and said “NICE babe”… I just looked at him and said “shut up, it’s my last one” and handed him the pregnancy test.

That’s it. That’s how I told him. I’m old. This is bad timing. We’re in the worst possible financial situation right now… but I’M PREGNANT. Literally every single plan we had was consistently being derailed by one unfortunate ass kicking after another, but somehow we DID manage to get knocked up. WE are the only two people this could this happen to. I swear.

The day we found out – after I managed to pull myself together.

It didn’t get any easier telling people either. While lots of people were supportive, there were a lot of THESE comments too:

  • You’re not keeping it are you?
  • I wouldn’t keep it if I were you.
  • I’m so glad it’s not me.
  • Oh man, your life is basically over.
  • You know it’s not good to have a baby at your age.
  • You know there’s a lot of things that can happen to a baby when you’re pregnant at your age.
  • And my favorite was after I’d BEEN pregnant for a couple of months someone actually looked at me and said “oh, so I guess you’re still gonna have it, huh?”

I think the comments that were hardest to get used to were the ones that pretty much assumed we’d be having an abortion, or that the only logical option was an abortion, or that if we had half a brain, we’d be HAVING an abortion. I found it amazing the ease with which these comments would just ROLL off of the tongues of random people. I understand that most of the people making these comments were really trying to be supportive in their own way, but it was not received that way.

As previously stated, I wasn’t happy about this pregnancy. Having another baby was about the very last thing I really wanted to do. It was most definitely the very last thing I needed to do, and with DVT history, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to carry the baby, or die myself trying to carry it. However, adoption and abortion weren’t options, so I was very scared and very stuck having this baby whatever the outcome was going to be – but apparently to many other folks an abortion was a walk in the park.

The first thing I did was tell my BBFITWWW and my brother, and then I called the doctor. They didn’t want to see me until I was 8 weeks, even with the DVT history. That just didn’t sit right with me, not to mention the doctor was a million miles away from where I live here in Central Florida. Luckily, I got a recommendation for another doctor up here. I made a second appointment and since this doctor ALSO didn’t want to see me until I was 8 weeks, I decided that it must be okay. I counted the days.

I spent a lot of time crying. I spent a lot of time assessing life. I spent a lot of time arguing with myself, praying for guidance, reminding myself that the opinions of others didn’t matter because of the people we told, very few were happy about this pregnancy, and finally I tried to force myself to come to peace with the fact that I had this tiny little bean of a baby in there, and no matter what, I was a birth mama for the second time. It was an overwhelming whirlwind of emotion and at times it just felt like I had ruined everything.

Note: Nothing REALLY worked. Until I went to the doctor and had an ultrasound. There it was, that tiny tadpole with a big ol’ heartbeat. My newfound doctor was a Godsend. She gave us what felt like a three hour ultrasound – not really, it was minutes, but it was long enough to fall instantaneously head over heels in love with this tiny little life I was growing. I don’t think I ever really reconciled anything, I just knew that I was going to have a baby, and I was finally okay with that.

An 8 week old Baby CharlieJoy

I hope you found a little humor in this post as that was my intention. There are three reasons for this initial post:

  • I know that some of you reading this are AMA and are still trying to conceive. If you’re kicking yourself because it hasn’t happened yet – STOP. You either can or you can’t, you will or you won’t. Either way, stop blaming yourself. There’s a million ways to be a parent aside from pregnancy. I urge you to consider those other options – or at least research them. I get the desire for biological children, but if it is wrecking your life, making you depressed or giving you anxiety, or making you feel like a failure, please take a step back and at least explore your other options. I get comments all the time from people who are so distressed about getting pregnant and my heart hurts for every single one of you because I can feel the pain you’re in, but please know there are other avenues.
  • If you’re like me and unexpectedly pregnant, then you’re probably scared and feeling hopeless. Just know that it’s okay to feel that way. It is not okay to harm yourself or your baby and I urge you to reach out to a medical provider for help. It is NEVER wrong to seek help. It does NOT make you a failure because you need help.
  • Finally, if you struggle with anxiety and depression, pregnancy may make that worse. PLEASE KNOW THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SUFFER. Reach out to your medical provider, they can help you. Pregnancy hormones made my anxiety go through the ROOF and for the first time almost two decades I could not get a handle on it. I am grateful every day for my doc. She made sure that mental health was as much a part of my pregnancy as my physical health and the health and development of my baby was. You CAN get the help you need, and no it will not harm your baby.

Given my age and medical history, there were a lot of moving parts to this pregnancy. It was a dramatic change from being pregnant at the age of 24 and it took a lot of getting used to, so…..

Stay tuned for Part Two: I can’t stop going to the doctor.

Note: If you are a DVT survivor or suffer from blood clotting disorders, do not lose your mind like I did. I was 11 years post DVT and hadn’t had follow up care in years. I was going off the care I received previously which made pregnancy seem very dangerous and impossible. I now know that information was only partly true. With appropriate medical care and supervision, a healthy and successful pregnancy is completely possible – which is why you should call your doctor immediately and stay actively involved in your treatment plan!

Note Two: Main photo courtesy of Nadine Amos Photography located in Brooksville, FL.