I Am Strong Because I am Doing What I Feel is Right {An Extended Breastfeeding Journey}

by Krystal Cleaver on September 4, 2013

I had my first baby when I was 24 years old. From the moment I got pregnant I had made the decision that I wasn’t going to breastfeed. My reasons were selfish, but when my son was 2 months old, I regretted that decision and I suddenly felt so heartbroken that I did not nurse him. I made a promise to myself that I would breastfeed my next baby and this is why I am strong.

I am strong because I am not afraid to admit that I made a decision I now regret.

I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl 5 years later on September 16, 2011. I nursed her just a few moments after she was born and that was the beginning of the journey we are still on today. I am strong because even on my toughest days with sore and swollen nipples, I refused to give up.

The first month was so hard. I spent hours staying up all night nursing and trying to comfort my baby, but she would just scream and scream. I hit a breaking point one morning when she had been up crying for close to 7 hours and my husband found me sobbing and exhausted on the couch. I knew there was something wrong, but several doctors said she was fine. I am strong because I ignored those doctors and got a second opinion. My daughter was diagnosed with reflux at 4 weeks and we finally had an answer so we could make her feel better.

I unfortunately had to go back to work at 9 weeks and I pumped three times a day to try to keep up with her demand. I remember I cried the first time I had to pump at work. The sound of the machine pumping my milk could not compare to the soft sounds my baby makes while nursing. I am strong because I struggled with my supply those first weeks back to work and had to battle through blocked milk ducts, but I never gave up.

I continued pumping for my daughter for 11 months at work. I had always wanted to donate my milk so even after I no longer needed to pump for my daughter, I still continued pumping for 2 more months to build up a stash to donate. I am strong because I was able to donate 100 ounces of my milk to a mom who could not breastfeed and that was truly such a huge blessing.

My breastfeeding goal was originally 12 months, but as my daughter was approaching her first birthday, I became very sad at the thought of having to forcefully wean her. I had already been dealing with the typical question from others, “how much longer are you going to breastfeed?” I felt like I had a lot pressure to wean my child. There were days that she would still nurse like a newborn and other days, it was only when she was sleepy or hurt. It was obvious that she still needed to be nursed. I am strong because I continued to breastfeed past my goal of 12 months, despite the criticism I got from others.

Since my daughter was just an infant, I had wanted professional breastfeeding photos. She is my last baby after all and I wanted to remember this journey. A local photographer was having a mini session for World Breastfeeding Week and I decided I was going to finally get my pictures. These are the pictures that I am sharing with you

today. I am strong because I am still breastfeeding 23 months later and will continue to until my daughter decides to wean.

I am strong because I am doing what I feel is best for my child.

Jennifer's I Am Strong Post, Extended Breastfeeding

Jennifer's I am Strong post, extended breastfeeding

Share/Bookmark

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynleigh September 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Beautiful! Love the pictures

Reply

Kim September 4, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Thank you so much for this article. I’ve been breastfeeding my youngest and he’s 15 months now. I’ve decided to let him wean himself even after being asked multiple times when I was going to stop. I’m also 16 weeks pregnant and this is a new journey for me nursing my little one and being pregnant.

Reply

Grace September 4, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Beautiful! My little one, number four, my last one, just celebrated her first birthday and I am thrilled to continue our nursing journey together as well. Thank you so much for sharing and encouraging others to stand up to those with negative comments and to focus instead on the gift of nursing.

Reply

Anne Ayers September 4, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Good for you!!!!

Reply

Emily Oleson September 4, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Good for you!! I could have written the whole story about your daughter, up until the age. My daughter just turned 1 on August 16th and my goal is now 2! I am already feeling tons of pressure to wean, but am not planning on it anytime soon!

Reply

mollie September 4, 2013 at 10:25 pm

I’m right with you! My first son nursed until his 4th bday. I thought he would wean during my second pregnancy, but nope! I ended up tandem nursing for 20m. My second son is almost 29m and he is still enjoying having me to himself. ;) i am now about 8.5w pregnant and, if my son needs to nurse along with a newborn, then so be it. I kinda hope he doesn’t also go until 4 yrs old, but i know my body can handle it. Good for you for listening to.what your daughter needs. Anybody else’s opinion doean’t REALLY matter. :)

Reply

Renee September 4, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. I am nursing my 6th baby and it never occurred to me to have breast feeding pictures taken. What a great idea! Thank you

Reply

Sascha September 5, 2013 at 12:25 am

Thank you for this post. My daughter is the same age, born Sept. 5, 2011 and I am still breastfeeding. My husband, and my mother always ask me when I am going to wean her, but I have always wanted to leave it up to her. She is slowly breastfeeding less and less. I am leaving it up to her. She will tell me when she is ready. :)

Reply

Harmony September 5, 2013 at 8:31 am

Simply beautiful. The gift that you are giving your daughter is priceless.

Reply

Nikki September 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Our girls share a birthday. I didn’t nurse my first either and regretted it, although I tried and just got horrible,horrible information. My kenz is still nursing like a champ. Happy birthday to your sweet little girl, and more power to you. Know better, do better that’s the best example we can set for our children.

Reply

May Lyn September 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story! I can relate to it in the sense of when my first son turned a year old, I also got the same questions about “cutting him off the breast”. Sadly, I listened to my then doctor. I tried to do it gradually, but he would beg me for it. I thought I was doing the right thing since he was already 13 months old. After that horrible experience I came across to extended breastfeeding groups supporting breastfeeding past the year. Now I have another son, who’s 15 months old and we are still going strong! Not stopping until he’s ready! :-)

Reply

Debbie Bradley September 5, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I think you are a strong loving mother, doing the right think. Other mothers today just don’t want to give time up to do this and it’s sad. I was one of the first pregnant woman who chose natural birth with my husband present, and breastfeed my not so little girl on demand. Got to forget the sugar water and supplementing formula. She was born all most 3 weeks late in 1975 at 9 lbs, 4 oz. Her first old man pediatrician saw her at 6 weeks and she lost 4 oz. Which is normal no matter what they are fed. I had to cut her out of her shirt for the exam. He said. I was starving her and should supplement. It dried up my supply. I took her to a new pediatrician and he said that was bull. She was 11 lbs at that visit. He wished I could go back but I couldn’t so he put her own skim milk because it was the closer to breastfeeding at that point. I studied and was ready by second baby. He doomed in and I totally breastfed him until he quit himself at 11 months. He liked holding a small bottle of diluted juice and carrying it between his teeth while crawling everywhere. I was crushed and cried for 3 days. Always ‘re new moms that it’s easier and you lose the weight faster. I did. Lost all my baby weight in a month earring 2000 calories a day, and drink in up to 10 glasses of water a day. Consult the Le Leche League for help all moms!

Reply

Jeanene September 6, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I’m so happy you shared your beautiful story!! I love your passion – you’re truly an inspiration to other mommies out there!

Reply

Debra Harrelson September 9, 2013 at 2:13 am

Good for you! <3 I nursed my son till just before his second birthday when he self weaned. We found out shortly after that we were pregnant with my daughter so I thought that might be it but my daughter is now four months old and he hasn't shown any interest in restarting. He will sit with us while she nurses, talking to her or cuddling or just laying his head on me and watching her. I am so glad that I let him self wean and am doing the same thing with my daughter. ^_^ I have never had the nerve to let somebody take my picture though. I've only with my daughter started nursing in public and don't think I could let somebody take my picture…..Thank you for sharing with those of us that still have hang ups about nursing in general and extended nursing!!!!

Reply

vanessa December 16, 2013 at 3:45 am

That last picture is exactly what my boy 21mo does its the nicest thing him stroking my cheek : ) good work in your extended feeding journey. Like you I had to return to work and made a goal of 12 months but as that approached figured I had worked sooo hard with low supply, blocked ducts to get to that point and thought if both of us dont really want to stop then we’ll keep going! Its up to us no one else!!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: