I have breastfed three babies.
With my first, we had a very hard time. She never latched correctly and I wasn’t motivated and gave up too quickly. I chose to pump and my supply quickly vanished. We breastfed for a total of 2 months before I switched to formula.
With my second, she latched right away. I was determined to breastfeed her and we chose not to give her a binky. One of my most vivid memories with her as a newborn is the day we got home from the hospital. I felt like she nursed for an entire day. I was so exhasted and it hurt so badly, but I powered through it. When I was 6 weeks postpartum, I had to have emergency gallbladder removal surgery and luckily, I had lots of milk saved. She had never taken a bottle and didn’t eat for an entire day and then finally, she took the bottle. My supply suffered but I worked hard to get it back. When she was four and a half months old, I ended up in the ER and was diagnosed with meningitis. I wasn’t allowed to see my children (or anyone for that matter) for four, almost five days. It was absolutely miserable and I couldn’t pump because I was on narcotics. During those few days, she was fed formula. When I was released and better, we continued nursing but my supply never recovered. But the bond from breastfeeding lingered and she has always been a mama’s girl. We breastfeed for a total of 6 months before I weaned her.
And now, I am currently breastfeeding my third child, my sweet son. When he was born, he latched right away. He was and is a comfort nurser. All is right in the world when he is on my boob. It’s kind of a running joke in our family because he is so obsessed with me. Our bond is incredible. When he was two months old, he was diagnosed with sagittal craniosynostosis and when he was three months old, he had skull surgery. I knew going into the surgery that I wouldn’t be able to nurse him (or even hold him) for 24-48 hours after surgery. This broke my heart because of the fact that nursing is a major comfort factor for him. I knew of cranio babies who couldn’t nurse the entire length of their hospital stay and cranio moms who lost their milk supply while their babe’s recovered. When he was 24 hours post-op, I was able to hold him for the first time and the first thing he did was try to nurse. In that moment, I was so grateful for the bond that breastfeeding had given us and grateful for the fact that I was able to comfort my baby through a painful recovery. We are still nursing to this day with no end in sight… He is 8 months old.
I know, I know. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone. There are moms who simply cannot and the last thing I want to do is make any mama feel bad for not breastfeeding. When I first saw the “tree of life” photos going around, I immediately knew there would be people who didn’t approve or couldn’t connect. I’ve seen the photos of the mom holding her wine bottle with the tree of life sticker and the mom using formula with the tree of life sticker — and that’s absolutely fine. It’s amazing. We are all doing the best we can do and giving it our “all” at this mom gig. But I want to celebrate the fact that I have given my children something that money can’t buy, something straight from my body, something with immense health benefits. The fact that my body created milk just for my baby, the fact that this milk is exactly what my baby needs, the fact that we have this intense bond… that is pretty incredible. I am so proud of myself, my body, and my sweet baby!
I have connected with moms from all different walks of life, different circumstances, different methods of parenting and asked them to send me their Tree of Life photos. The one above is mine, taken 24 hour post-op in the ICU. I will cherish this photo for the rest of my life! I am so excited to share all of these photos with you… Let’s celebrate our breastfeeding journey’s!
Photo via Ashlee Nichols // Age 31 // Texas
Photo via Leeann Chavez // Age 21 // Arizona
Photo via Rachel Montano // Age 23 // California
Photo via Anna Conn // Age 21 // Arizona
Photo via Kellie Hayes // Age 23 // Arizona
Photo via Becka Lorene // Age 25 // Michigan
Photo via Gabriella Johnson (Nursing in the NICU after her newborn’s heart surgery) // Age 22 // Arizona
Photo via Fatima Dedrickson // Age 27 // Arizona
Photo via Krista Horton // Age 30 // California
Photo via Kayla Vazquez (Nursing her son who had heart surgery at two weeks old!) // Age 26 // Arizona
Photo via Lauren McBride // Age 30 // Connecticut
Photo via Kristle Amara // Age 27 // Washington
Photo via Elisha Burns // Age 22 // Texas
Photo via Katie Crenshaw // Age 30 // Georgia
Photo via Kelly Jones // Age 23 // Florida
To make your Tree of Life Breastfeeding Photo, download the Picsart app. Use the “Tree of Life” stickers, then click the “Magic” button! Tag me on Instagram (@thegarciadiaries) and I might add your photo to this post!