Wesley is almost exclusively fed via bottle because I almost exclusively pump. We nurse once, maybe twice a day, but that's it. It started in the hospital. When Wes was in the NICU they had me pumping the tiny bit of colostrum I was producing and bringing it in, then they'd supplement with formula. Because of his glucose issues they had to know how much he was eating to help get his levels regulated. When we took him home he only had to have formula for one night before my milk came in, and when it came in it REALLY came in. I was struggling a little bit with some postpartum depression (bonding was off with Wes and I... I had a baby, and then my baby was taken away from me for 4 days). Breastfeeding actually made my postpartum depression worse. Wes's latch was a bit off and I had a massive oversupply of milk so every few hours when it was time to feed him he'd be covered in milk and I'd be covered in milk and we'd both be frustrated. I was engorged and my nips weren't used to it yet and were bleeding. I felt like I only held my baby when he was crying and it was time to feed him and I honestly hated feeding him.

So one day I used a little silicone pump I got off Amazon for $15 (it doesn't actually pump, it just relieves the pressure of engorgement - I HIGHLY recommend it). Of course I saved the milk and Conner fed it to him in a bottle later. I said I was just going to pump on and off for a few days because I needed a break, physically and mentally. I felt incredibly guilty. What kind of mother hates feeding her child? Well, when it's a messy, incredibly painful and frustrating experience, why wouldn't you hate it? But with pumping he was still getting solely breastmilk and plenty of it, so I went with it. And a few days turned into weeks... 7 weeks later I'm so glad we feed him the way we do. Conner feeds him often and takes one feeding in the middle of the night. I'm not a human pacifier for my son, and he also doesn't consider me his only source of food. I love that Conner has such a strong bond with him, and that has been helped along by him being able to feed Wes. It's also taken a lot of pressure off me. Pumping is a hassle sometimes, but it's predictable and controlled - we always know how much he's eating and how often. And once again, he's exclusively breastfed, just not always directly from the breast. I have learned to be proud of that, not ashamed. We found what worked for the 3 of us.

And now when we do nurse it doesn't hurt and my supply is under better control. Nursing is a sweet experience and we have that connection I wanted so badly. So this image is to celebrate the process of getting to this stage. I knew prior to having a baby that breastfeeding is hard, but I couldn't fully understand why until I experienced it. Motherhood is so difficult sometimes, and those early days everything feels so raw... in the end you do what feels right for your family. I have a whole new respect for varying methods of parenting because I have a whole new understanding of how different each individual and family are.

Fed is best.