Dear Diary,

As a mom of four children born back-to-back in 2000, 2008 and 2010—including a set of twins, breastfeeding took up many months of motherhood. I never thought that I could love and hate something so much. I loved not carrying bottles or spending money on formula. I even loved the amount of weight that I lost.

I didn’t expect to nurse as long as I did. If you add it up, I nursed babies for nearly four years. I started with my son, who is now a strapping young teenager. I nursed him for 18 months. It really astounded everyone around me, mainly because of my young age. I was only 19-years-old. My husband, who was my ex-boyfriend at the time, was very supportive of my stance.

In a world where I was automatically judged for having a baby face and a baby, older women looked at me with softness when I held my son to my chest.

As intelligent as I thought I was, I never thought that there were people out there who couldn’t nurse. I just thought there were two groups–those who breastfed and those who didn’t. Kind of like those who drive BMW’s and those who drive Mercedes.

My son gained weight like a champ. I carried him around with joy, because he was so plump, and I could say that it was all due to mamma’s milk!

I remember bringing him to my parents’ house during a break from undergrad and pumping enough milk to store in their deep freezer for our next visit. It was this rich, fatty fluid that I was enthralled with. I couldn’t believe that my body was responsible for making this stuff. While there, my mom, who was a nurse, answered a lot of my questions. She breastfed my sister and youngest brother, but not me or my oldest brother—something she regretted. I guess that was another reason why I nursed. I didn’t want to feel regret for not doing it when I could. My mom didn’t guilt me, just offered advice and support.

After getting married and delivering our second child, I learned all too well about struggles getting pregnant, complications from pregnancies, challenges with nursing.

As an African-American mom, I was under the impression that we didn’t have these issues. I mean, society always portrayed us as super fertile, and that came the ability to nurse exclusively, right? Wrong!

About six months in, I realized that my second child wasn’t getting enough to eat. No matter what I did, what I ate or how often I nursed, I wasn’t able to supply her enough nutrients. I felt defeated. I felt like a failure. My husband supported me through this ordeal, and we supplemented with formula. I was horrified that my child had to depend on another source for her meals. The thing that got me through was the fact that our pediatrician was open to just about anything to keep the amount of formula usage down. She wanted my daughter to fatten up, but she didn’t want to push me into anything uncomfortable. I continued to nurse, but we ended up stopping a little after a year, and I have to say that although I was sad, I was relieved that I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. We had moved on to table foods, and I could focus on making baby food for her, and still have some sense of doing something right. Count the fact that in my heart I just knew this was my last child, and I would rest.

Well, I rested for a year and a half until I found out I was pregnant, again. Huge at just 14 weeks, I went to the OBGYN to make sure that everything was OK, especially since I had suffered a miscarriage the year before. I was fine—well, physically. Mentally, I had to get over the shock of carrying twins! I nursed them for 10 months.

It was overwhelming. It was tedious. But I enjoyed being able to relax and feed two babies at one time. It was as if, I had learned to just be.

I sat back and laughed at their antics, including the fact that they would talk to each other while at the breast. I didn’t sweat it when people stared at me. I always received well-meaning questions. How do you nurse two babies? Which I would always answer, Easy! I have two breasts!

The twins experienced growth issues as well. This time though, we did more fattening foods in their diets around 8 months, which helped quite a bit. Nursing ended when my husband and I took a one-week vacation without our children. It wasn’t that I stopped producing, but that my children had spent time with their grandparents and had gotten used to eating very well. They shunned me when I got back. My mom tried, very hard I might add, to get them to drink from their bottles. Using shirts that smelled like me, but they weren’t having it. They wanted what their older siblings were having and stopped the fussing as soon as they got it! I can’t say that I blame them though. I’d take my mom’s food over milk any day too.

All in all, like childbirth, each child will be a different breastfeeding experience. For some of us, it’s easy, for others, it’s difficult to get the hang of. But I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world, because the challenges made me sympathetic to moms who can’t nurse or choose not to.

Breastfeeding also allowed me to prove myths of breastfeeding wrong. There were many people who thought that they wouldn’t be able to nurse because of the size of their breasts. I nursed with average sized and mammoth boobs—seriously, it looked like my child was suffocating. I learned about things such as hindmilk and foremilk, and how sometimes you can indeed make too much foremilk. I learned that stress does indeed limit milk production, and that breastfeeding is not  birth control. I learned also that sometimes a compassionate word goes a long way with a mom who is just trying to learn the ropes of her new position, while positioning her baby. A smile and nod can help a bunch.  It helped me.

Natasha Nicholes is the fun loving blogger behind House Full of Nicholes. She writes about travel, homeschooling three young children and marriage. You can catch up with Natasha on Twitter  using #ChocolateMilk.

About The Author

#Chocolate Milk

Throughout August, in celebration of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Diary of a First Time Mom will publish a new nursing story each day, written by 31+ black mom bloggers. DFTM Creator Heather Hopson asked each blogger to submit a personal breastfeeding story, and they immediately emailed their experiences—both good and bad. They wrote about everything from allergies and ignorance to pumping and working. Heather curated this collection to educate other African-American women about breastfeeding. That way, they will be armed with information to make a decision. Heather hopes you will join the movement on Twitter. Follow @dearmomdiary and the participants. You can check the #ChocolateMilk blogger ambassador list! Be sure to tweet using #ChocolateMilk. And don’t forget to share your story by clicking on Breastfeeding→ Lactation Nation on the menu bar above. Meanwhile, let us know in the comment box below why you nursed—or didn’t.

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