14 Months Of Breastfeeding

Yup, that’s what I did. Well, technically 14 months and three days if you’re really counting. And yup, this really is a post about breastfeeding, so feel free to skip it (you know, if you’re my brother for example). I never thought I’d be writing about it. But I actually get a lot of questions on the subject. And since I blather on about other random things (like cloth diapering) and this blog is really just a way for us to remember things that we might otherwise forget (like paint colors and vacation happenings), I figure that something I did for so long (around 425 days straight) deserved a post about the range of emotions that it elicited. So here we go.

My first emotion: grateful. I was just so thankful it worked. I was acutely aware that some moms try extremely hard but it’s just not possible. I was also pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as painful as I expected. I’d heard a lot about cracked and bleeding nipples (yes I just typed that) but thanks to genetics or a good latch (or some other random happening) I didn’t really have much pain at all (in the interest of TMI, I also never had sore boobs while prego, so maybe those things go hand in hand?). And I know the whole lack of pain thing might make you want to punch me (it annoys the heck out of my BFF) but I had a pretty frightening birth experience so I guess it’s always something (and not always the same thing) that throws you for a loop as a new mom.

Speaking of the whole birth thing, I was initially really stressed about Clara “taking” to breastfeeding because, due to our complications, I couldn’t nurse her until eight whole hours after she came into this world. I heard trying as soon as possible was the way to go, and I guess the whole scary birth experience had me fearing the worst (there was no baby-on-my-chest-to-snuggle-and-nurse-right-away occurrance, which is definitely what I pictured). But the sweet nurses pretty much just said to give it a try and it was miraculous. Clara got it right away. Such a relief.

As far as emotions go, after “grateful” and “pleasantly surprised” I moved into “exhausted and overwhelmed” territory. Clara was blissfully sleeping for 12 hours each night pretty much from the beginning, waking up for just one or two feedings most of the time (after we got the ok from the doc to let her sleep instead of waking her up to feed every 3 hours since she was steadily gaining weight).

But that meant that during the day she was feeding every two hours like clockwork (I fed her on demand, and at almost exact two hour intervals she screamed and wasn’t happy til she was nursing). So I really couldn’t get much done without having to stop and feed her. Which I actually loved for the bonding and the sweetness and the self-imposed break that it gave me from housework, blogging, and all that other stuff – but it was definitely exhausting and sort of all-encompassing in those bleary I-have-a-newborn months. I always joke that she let me rest at night, but during the day she made me work for it.

And when we went on a week-long family vacation when Clara was just six weeks old I remember sitting upstairs alone with Clara feeding her in a bedroom while everyone else was downstairs having fun together and thinking “I’m going to have to excuse myself and do this about eight times a day while everyone else hangs out – which adds up to 56 feedings that I’ll be doing over the next seven days.” That’s an overwhelming thought. At least it was to me. It was times like this that I actually wished feeding in public (or at least in front of your extended family) was more widely accepted. I tried to use a nursing cover but Clara wouldn’t have it. So up in my room I sat (with occasional visits from John who sweetly recognized that I’d rather be with the group and dropped in to keep us company). Back in these days feedings were pretty slow going (around 15-20 minutes per side for a total of 30-40 minutes spent sequestered). But we still managed to fit in some fun in the sun (or shade since she was so tiny).

I should mention that 1) pumping didn’t agree with me and 2) Clara never took to bottles (or pacifiers for that matter). You win some and you lose some. So every time she fed for the past 14 months it was directly from the source. Which was ok with me since pumping just didn’t work out and thankfully I have a job that allows me to be home with her. But it’s definitely sort of crazy as a concept because for over a year I was never away from my daughter for more than an hour or two. Ever.

But with a face like this, I was ok with that:

Around three months in I really got into the groove though. That’s where I’d characterize my feelings as “content and accepting.” I was happy to still be able to breastfeed and glad that it seemed to suit Clara. She seemed to enjoy it and I knew how to do it effectively and easily enough (in a parked car? check. in a dressing room? check). I even managed to sneak in a taping for the Nate Berkus show, nursing Clara in the green room right before we went on and right after (thankfully it was only a two hour process – or we might have heard her screaming for another feeding from on stage).

I guess I had adapted more to it, and it didn’t feel like as big of a job after I got into the swing of things. And by about 6-8 months old Clara had become a lot more efficient, so feedings were only about 15 minutes total (and sometimes even ten). Interestingly enough, the introduction of solid food at six months old (which Clara loved from day one) didn’t have any bearing on her nursing. She still wanted just as much, just as often. And I was secretly kind of relieved because I worried a bit about my production slowing or even stopping if she suddenly dropped a ton of feedings. But that was not the case.

Up until Clara turned ten months old I was still feeding her every two hours during the day at her insistence (screaming until I nursed her = her insistence). That’s right, for ten months (that’s 300 days) I nursed Clara every two hours (except during the night). I was ok with it, and my doc was ok with it, but I heard from friends that only going two hours between feedings at that age was reallllly often (as in all of my friends were only feeding every 4-5 hours or so at that age). My doc explained that it made sense since Clara was such an unusually solid night sleeper (she segued from waking up for 1-2 feedings in her 12 hour span of night sleep to not waking up at all around 2.5 months in – I know, we’re insanely blessed to have gotten such uninterrupted sleep for such a long block of time). But it did mean not-as-long daytime naps and a whole lot of frequent feedings to “tank up” during her waking hours in exchange for such an awesome night’s sleep. Heck, I’ll take it.

Blissfully, after turning ten months old Clara started stretching her feedings to every three hours, which felt amazing. It’s funny how an extra hour feels like all the freedom in the world. It’s all relative I guess. At this point I was coming into the whole “I love breastfeeding” phenomenon. I still felt grateful to be able to do it, Clara was a thriving happy girl, it was saving us money, it gave me a moment to step away from the computer/paint brush/hammer and connect with the bean, and it helped me get back into my old clothes (even though I don’t think I’ll ever have my pre-baby body again, it’s fine with me because Clara’s so worth it). I should add that I’m a breastfeeding enthusiast when it comes to me and Clara, but I don’t judge anyone else when it comes to what they choose for their family. Whatever works for you & your ducklings = my mantra as a parent in general.

The next speed bump that we encountered was when Clara turned a year old we introduced organic whole milk. The problem? Clara wouldn’t drink it. She still wouldn’t really take a bottle so our doc recommended trying a sippy cup. It worked for water, but she refused to drink milk (and we tried about ten million different sippy cup varieties, tried slightly heating the milk, tried watering it down or mixing it with breast milk, etc). This is when I started fearing that she’d be 21 years old and still addicted to breastfeeding.

Next we tried almond milk at our doc’s advice, and she went for it (we think the thinner consistency seemed closer to breast milk so she was down). And slowly we mixed almond milk with whole organic milk and she made the transition to 100% whole organic milk at around 13 months. Yup, it took nearly a whole month to get her on board with it. She’s stubborn like her momma. Haha. Shockingly, that’s when her feedings dropped waaay down. From around five times a day to just two – once before bed and once in the morning. Which made me feel excited and free but sort of oddly sad at the same time. “My baby’s growing up, and she needs me less” was sort of how I felt. I know that’s not really true, but it’s the best way I can describe the feeling.

By 13 months and three weeks she just wanted a feeding in the morning when she woke up. Clara has always been the boss of this whole breastfeeding thing (since we opted to just do the “on demand” thing from day one), so who am I to argue with the girl? Just one morning feeding opened up a whole new world of evening fun for me and John thanks to his parents offering to babysit (we could see a movie or go out to dinner without Clara after over a year of not partaking in those activities – amazing!). Of course I thought about her the whole time we were out, but I guess that’s to be expected (picture me saying “I wonder what Clara’s doing right now” every ten minutes during our first movie together in over a year).

Two weeks later Clara wasn’t even interested in her morning feeding. Which was sad because that’s the one where we lie down next to each other and relax together. I know I sound crazy, but it was such a sweet way to start the day. To anyone who has yet to try it, nursing on your side while laying down = awesometown (they taught me that move at the hospital thanks to the whole c-section thing). And now it’s over. So my current feelings are sad (because I’ll miss it) but proud (because I can’t believe I breastfed for over 14 months) and grateful (because I know being able to nurse that long or even at all definitely isn’t a given).

So that’s my breastfeeding journey. Off to cry now (and I can’t even blame breastfeeding hormones for the tears). I know, I know, someone with a nickname that won’t stick like $herdog shouldn’t be such a wuss. But it was an awesome/exhausting/amazing/tiring/surprising journey that I’m grateful to have experienced. Love you baby girl. Even if you’re over me my boobs.


  1. Jayme says

    Thanks for this, Sherry. It was kind of the shot in the arm I needed to keep going… I nursed my firstborn (son) for 11 months, and my daughter just reached the 10 month mark. I’ve been thinking about weaning her since I have to pump at work, but… it really is a wonderful thing and I would love to make it as long as you have. Cheers!

  2. Suzanne says

    You go girl! That is awesome. Breastfeeding didn’t work out for us for very long (about 5 weeks), so I am always in awe of those that make it for the long haul. Definitely hoping to go longer with the next baby…this is an inspiration! :)

  3. Alicia Seebach says

    Funny, this is almost our story exactly!!

    I nursed our daughter until 14 months when she self weened, she also slept through the night at an early age where we woke to feed her for the first bit; then let it be.

    She wouldn’t take bottles either! So pumping was out. In fact the only real difference is that Ella took to cows milk fairly readily.

  4. Shauna says

    Love. Thanks for sharing. Nursed my oldest for 21 months and I am currently nursing my 2 month old. The bond is incredible. Congrats to you and to Clara. :-)

  5. Joy says


    I just wanted to say what a wonderful post, it really speaks to all of us mommas and how hard, but gratifying, it is to raise those wonderful babies. Be extremely proud of what you’ve accomplished, and don’t worry about that bond, it’s not going anywhere!

  6. says

    Oh Sherry, it’s okay. It’s the post-bfing hormones like someone else said. I’m actually nursing right now, reading YHL keeps me occupied.

    I held off on solids for a while because I was a little upset that she wouldn’t need me as much anymore. She’s ten months and still gets (only) one solid meal a day. We’re going at our own pace :)

    Thank you for writing this, more women need to know that breastfeeding can be easy and a true blessing. And for the mothers who unfortunately do have trouble, PLEASE check out La Leche League. They’re a wonderful group of women that will help you with any issues you’re having. It’s a great way to meet other mothers and make friends too! :)

  7. Lisa says

    Good for you :) Seriously more nursing moms need kudos from others! If you decide to have more kids, I promise that it gets easier! And you may get more comfortable nursing in front of others, so you won’t feel the need to leave those family get-togethers upteen times. I nursed my first just past his 2nd birthday, and my second is now 2 months. After a traumatic c-section and several hours of separation with my first, resulting in some serious nursing issues in the begining, my second was a blissful birth and we nursed almost immediately. I love the bond it’s given me with both of my kids. Cherish the memories!

  8. Kay says

    My son came at 30 weeks. I’m so grateful that we live in a time when things like formula and breathing machines and feeding tubes for babies exists! 100 years ago, my son may not have survived.
    Thank you for recognizing that if you can’t breast feed, it’s still nothing to be ashamed of.

  9. Liz says

    Thank you so much for sharing your story/journey. I’m at the 12.5 month mark with bf my daughter and neither of us are ready to wean. So far she hasn’t liked the taste of whole milk, so I might need to try the almond milk trick. Thank you for letting us peak in on your lives!

  10. says

    Way to go for breastfeeding, exclusively at that! That’s all I did with 3 of my kids as well and it’s definitely the way to go if at all possible. I actually just got done nursing about 2 weeks ago, when my daughter was 15.5 months old. It was extra sad for me because she was our last child and I know I’ll never breastfeed again.

    Although I’m kind of a little (alot!!!) jealous that you didn’t have any cracking or bleeding in the beginning. Picture me sitting on the couch nursing my baby for the first month while curling my toes so tightly to keep from screaming from the pain. Yes, it really hurt that bad. But in the end, it was all worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat if I had the chance.

  11. Laura says

    My daughter is 17 months old and we still do a session first thing in the morning and just before bed. I think she would be fine with dropping the before bed one if I just cut it out, but she is pretty insistent on the morning one still. But I totally agree with the mixed feelings, it IS sad, I can definitely tell she’s losing interest on some days, and it makes me sniffle! Also I am way jealous on the overnight sleep skills! Ours didn’t sleep a full 12 hours until she was 11 months old!!

  12. says

    thanks so much for posting! I am 31 weeks pregnant and am really, really wanting breastfeeding to work as well for us as it did for you! i mean, you already turned me on to cloth diapering by making it sound so easy. My sister had similar experiences with all 3 of her kids nursing, so I hope it’s genetic!

    Question – did you read any books to “study up” for breastfeeding, or just wing it?

    • says

      I took a breastfeeding class for free at the local hospital (just watched a video and talked about it and stuff). But mostly I just waited until she was here and the nurse came in and showed me what to do. I give Clara all the credit. She taught me how for the most part. She just latched right on and I was so relieved.


  13. Dana says

    Great post! I am currently breastfeeding my 9 months old son. He is down to morning and bed time only feedings. I am too so happy i could bf for as long as i did, considering that the first 2 and half months our boy was too small to eat directly from the source(he was born with only 2.160kg – dismature), so i pumped 5-6 times a day to provide his meals.

    Ps: i had extremely sore boobs during pregnancy, but not a single problem with them after birth :)

  14. says

    Wow! You did a great job. Most of the women I know breastfeed for up to 12 months, some only six. although, my aunt breastfeed her kids for 3 years. Yikes!

    I chose not to breastfeed. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea. It made me squeamish and nervous which is weird because I’m not a prude or anything. It just felt wrong for me. But I think it’s wonderful when mothers can do that with their babies. It’s an amazing thing to see.

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