Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guest Blog: Lucky Duck Gets A Boob - Natalie's Story

Natalie is a busy single mom who is in nursing school and living on a strict budget. Using her skills of saving money she runs the blog Lucky Duck Saves A Buck which shares lots of money saving tips for folks. Who doesn't like to save money??!? You can also find her on Facebook; She is a breastfeeding mother to her boy "Kitty" and she outlined their breastfeeding journey (thus far) for us. Enjoy! Thanks for sharing Natalie! 

I swore my son’s first word would be boobs. Or something like it. For all of his life, he has had my breasts nursing him, comforting him and to him, they are ‘his’. This is my story of how I became an accidental breast feeding, intactivist, cloth diapering, baby wearing mama. The signs of “crunchy” were all around me. It wasn’t until I started viewing things in a different way after the birth of my son that I saw I was this way all along. It starts with when my pug Zoey is in need of a diaper during her, erm, time of the year, I’ve always used a cloth diaper. It just seemed silly to me to waste a disposable product when a cloth one would last longer and be more environmentally friendly. Fast forward to a cold fall day when I was grabbing some clothes of the line when I heard this little ‘meeeeow’. I looked under the porch and found a small, wet, cold kitten. I brought her in the house and warmed her as best I could. I was afraid the kitten would die, but my pug Zoey knew just what to do. She moved me out of the way, snuggled up to the kitten and pushed the kitten towards her nipples. Over the next few days, my pug, who had never had puppies was now lactating for this kitten. She just knew this kitten needed milk. It was the most natural thing for her to do. I couldn’t believe she could just ‘do’ it. She carried on nursing this kitten into a 20 pound cat for the next 3 years. I finally had to wean the cat because my pug wouldn’t do it. She was losing weight and the cat was constantly nursing. So anywho, that story was just a story in my life and when I got pregnant, these things came back to the surface and suddenly made sense in a way that they hadn’t before.

I remember so vividly the moment my son was born. I had chosen not to find out the gender of my baby as I knew I would need that surprise and suspense to help get me through labor. I remember when he came out and how the intense pressure was over and the feeling of anticipation bloomed as I waited for someone to yell out the gender of my baby. My baby. He was announced, “A Boy, you have a boy” and he was placed on my chest. He turned to the sound of my voice, reached out his little hand and wrapped it around my finger. We stared at each other. My heart burst into countless pieces as I fell in love deeper and clearer than I ever had before. This was my baby. I made him, I carried him, I birthed him, and now he was here. I held him like this for about 30 minutes while they put me back together after his fast, less than 5 hour labor. He started to fuss a little bit and I instinctively put him to the breast. I wasn’t sure when I was first pregnant if I would breast feed. I knew I would pump for him, but the thought of letting something nurse from my body was odd to me. I felt like my breasts were these sexual objects and that after loaning my body to grow this baby for so long, that I would want my body back. After growing and then birthing a baby, I can tell you I felt much different about him then. It only seemed natural to put him to the breast. After all, I had grown and nurtured him, now I was going to nourish him.

So here my son and I are, almost 10 months later. We have made it through our challenges. Luckily for me, he is a boob fanatic, has a great latch and loves to nurse. Some of the challenges that just about cost us our breast feeding relationship have been the growth spurts. I had no idea how often a baby goes through a growth spurt and how it can take some time for your body to catch up. Without the knowledge of my wonderful friends who run this blog, I would have fallen into the trap most women do- “I don’t make enough milk” or “My milk dried up”. They told me to keep on nursing, keep on drinking water and be patient, because after all, my body was made to do this and given time, it would readjust to my son’s needs. And sure enough it did. We faced the challenge of teeth…oh boy. Kitty started getting teeth at 5 months and by 7 months he had 6 teeth. So we’ve been nursing for 5 months with teeth. It was tough at times but it’s totally do able and it can be done pain free. Another challenge I will admit to is there have been times when I would just like to sleep. I’m a single mother, so it’s me, on call 24/7. There isn’t anyone to help with the diaper changes, to feed during the night, or to give me time to myself. I am not complaining, this is all just simply fact. In weak moments, I have thought, “Wouldn’t it just be easier to give him a bottle”…but every time, I’ve looked at my little baby and I’ve just known that the right choice for us is to keep on nursing.  So like most mothers, we go through those “normal” challenges. My biggest challenge is pumping when Kitty is with his dad every other weekend, for the whole weekend. I do it with love because I know that feeding Kitty breast milk is what is best for him, and hey, the whole benefits for mama, like decreased risk of breast cancer and diabetes are not bad perks to enjoy. I have been accused multiple times of nursing as a way to “keep” his dad out of his life. That is definitely not the case. Nursing is not for the lazy. It takes a lot of work to keep a supply up, it takes rest, hydration, nutrition and it means letting your baby have access to your body whenever and wherever they want it. If we were to play nursing card bingo-I have nursed in quite the assortment of places-church, car, Target, restaurants, while eating, in the tub, the kitchen floor and at a garage sale. To me it’s just natural.

Unfortunately, many don’t think breast feeding is natural. The courts do not see it as a reason to keep mom and baby together. Family members and friends will question you. Pediatricians will tell you things like, “Most women can’t nurse past 3 months”…Wait…WHAAAAAA? Okay, I will fill in the gaps in the story. Like I stated, my family has been rather unsupportive of nursing, saying that I do it only to keep Kitty from his dad. Simply not true. The health benefits alone are amazing. I cured my strep throat with some breast milk. Kitty has yet to be sick. I’ve been getting questioned on when I’m going to stop breast feeding as he is “almost a year” and “doesn’t need to be nursed” any longer. I guess at day 364 of life a baby still needs breast milk and by day 366 breast milk has lost all nutrition value and is poison. Okay, sarcasm, but the point is, Kitty will still be a baby at a year. He won’t be walking, he won’t really be talking. He will still be dependent on me to take care of him. If I’ve nursed him this long, what’s another 6 months, year or 3? I firmly believe he will wean when he’s ready.
Which brings me to my last story. When I brought Kitty into the doctor for his 9 month visit, his Dr. asked if I was still breast feeding. To get what she really said, insert question and distain over the word ‘still’. As if, why-would-you-still-do-that-what’s-wrong-with-you. I said Yes.? (As in, Yes. Why would you even ask?). She told me that most women just simply cannot breast feed past 3 months because their milk dries up and she was simply astounded that we were still breast feeding. She also tried to tell me the cloth diapers were bad for his skin-which by the way, is perfect and blemish free…and that the cloth will only make it more likely for him to get a UTI, which she believes he will be more prone to anyways because he isn’t circumcised. These are things that are simply not true. I’m not here to tell you how to diaper your child. I’m just trying to illustrate how bad advice gets passed around and somewhere gets turned into fact. If you don’t know more about the topic, you can be easily persuaded into something else. I looked at the Dr. and did the “Fish”- open and shut my mouth as I try to figure out what to say. I finally came up with, “breast feeding at 9 months or 9 years is not without work. You have to drink a lot of fluids, eat well and sleep well. You have to be willing to nurse on demand. You have to be committed to it, but it’s not impossible.” She followed it up with, “We’ll see you at his 1 year mark. We’ll discuss weaning then as he won’t need to nurse anymore.” Riiiiiight. I’ll just be better prepared next time to defend the normal, natural act of breast feeding with logic and fact.

 The decisions I made to parent Kitty were well researched, but more importantly, based on instinct. Just like my pug Zoey instinctually knew to nurse that tiny kitten, I just knew to nurse my baby. And here we are, 10 months later, happily nursing away. I actually dread the day he no longer wants to nurse. But the memories I had stored are numerous and precious…and until then, I relish smelling his sweet milky breath and know I am doing what’s best for my son.


  1. Well Said Natalie! I breast fed my son till about a year, cause your right, people are usually ok when you feed new born but as that 1st birthday rolls around people start to get judgemental, I think I start to try and ween from about 10 months (feeling the pressure), and only feed at home to put him off to sleep, so I wound't feel judged. I don't think I would have gone much futher than a year anyway as I became pregnaunt with my second. But I would have like to do it when I felt ready, rather thatn self concious. However I now have a Healthy 2 and 1/2 year old that hardley ever gets sick, and a wonderful 6 moths old, who is still pretty much exculsivly breast fed(about to go on solids)and I plan against all to fed until I and baby are ready. bit wiser 2nd time around! and if you Look at the World health Organiastion (WHO)They recommend Breat feedin till 2 years anyway. Good on ya girl thank for posting! :-)

  2. good lord! switch pediatricians already! find someone who will support you in your correct instincts.