Friday, September 16, 2011

An end to breastfeeding

One of the biggest reasons I blog is so I have a diary to look back on in order to remember things. So... I might as well write about this. Since becoming a parent, I have 2 regrets and this is one of them.

I always knew I would breastfeed. Not that I would give it a try, but that it would happen. When I set my mind on something, its pretty hard to dissuade me. Besides all the health and bonding benefits, spending hundreds of dollars on formula and having to remember to buy it didn't seem too appealing. Me and my sisters were all breastfed, as were Jerad and his siblings so it was just the "norm" for both of us.

After Marshall was born breastfeeding turned out to be drama, drama, and more drama. I dealt with extremely cracked nipples, that led to mastitis, that led to emergency surgery to drain 2 breast abscesses, mastitis 2 more times, thrush from the mastitis antibiotics,  and I developed Raynaud's Phenomenon which made every nursing session extremely painful. And that was all within the first 8 weeks! Marshall never had a good latch, I never felt any of that euphoric bonding crap that nursing mothers rave on and on about, and honestly breastfeeding was usually a pain because besides it being uncomfortable Marshall had this tick for like 10 months where he would just punch me repeatedly while nursing. If I tried to hold his hand or make him stop he'd loose his shit and refuse to eat. Awesome. All that "natural and convenient" stuff never really applied to us.

However, SOMEHOW, I stuck with it. Probably only because I'm so flipping stubborn once I've made up my mind. He was always so healthy (in 16 months he's only been sick once and it wasn't even a big deal), so happy, and as an infant he grew like a weed. Him thriving so well was the motivation I needed to stick it out. Although I worked full time, I managed to pump enough for him to not need any supplementing even though it meant for almost a year I had to pump while driving to work, during every break, and during my lunch. We delayed starting him on solids until he was 8 months and during that time he thrived on an exclusively breastmilk diet.

I didn't have an exact plan for when we'd stop nursing and planned on seeing what Marshall wanted and how I felt as he got older, hoping we'd be done by the time he was 2 (which is the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization) but wanting to make it to at least 15 or 16 months.

A few weeks before Marshall's first b-day my milk supply started decreasing due to being pregnant (although I didn't know that was why at the time). I just blamed it on the stress of planning his party, Jerad being gone all the time, us buying a house and getting ready to move. It wasn't a huge deal because besides pumping enough to feed Marshall while I was at work, I was pumping enough to freeze an additional 20-25 ounces a DAY. So... basically I had been making enough milk for 2 babies. Soon I went from pumping 9 ounces in a 10 minute session to pumping 0.75 in 20 minutes. Marshall would get frustrated and cry when he nursed.

I started taking an herbal tincture, which helped some, but we were still having to supplement with frozen milk.  By this time Marshall was 13 months old, I was 3 months pregnant and exhausted beyond belief, and it was just too much. Because of the Raynaud's nursing had always been painful/uncomfortable.  Mix that with no milk production, a toddler with teeth who could bite when he was frustrated, sore pregnancy boobs... it just wasn't worth it. So we just stopped. Basically cold turkey. It was honestly pretty painless all around. The first few nights Marshall would wake up crying and instead of comfort nursing he'd just want to sleep on top of me and snuggle which was nice because he hadn't wanted to snuggle with me at night for a long time. I stopped trying to pump at work which mean I had *gasp* free time during my breaks. And the best part... Jerad could handle night feedings solo:)

Because I had been freezing so much extra breastmilk, we had enough for him to take in a bottle until 15 months. At that time we transitioned him to a blend of unsweeteded almond milk and raw, unpasteurized, organic grass fed cow's milk from Organic Pastures which has been working out really well.

Long story short, our breastfeeding days are over. Although in a way I'm glad because the freedom IS nice, I do regret weaning just because it wasn't really my choice or his and it just happened so fast. Then again I do know its good that it wasn't a long drawn out dramatic process. I guess I just have mixed feelings:) I have lots of friends who have managed to continue breastfeeding through pregnancy, and I feel like if I didn't work full time I'd have been able and willing to stick it out too. Not having to be out of the house by 6:30am, not having to pump, being able to take the occasional nap, and having the time to actually work on it would have made all the difference. Which makes me feel guilty... until he wakes up hungry at 2 am and I roll over and sleep while Jerad does the whole bottle dance.

I'm really hoping that breastfeeding the next baby goes much much smoother. I mean, I don't think it could ever be any worse right? My plan this time is to go see our IBCLC (lactation consultant) within the first week so that we can troubleshoot any problems BEFORE they become huge issues.


KelBel said...

I feel you! Totally! I just wrote today about how my milk supply all of a sudden "stopped" when I got pregnant! And I WAS getting naps, not working, etc. There just seemed to be nothing I could do about it.

Are you going to try tandem nursing with the second once your milk for Miller comes in?

Steph said...

I just never had had any sort of supply problems so it didnt even dawn on me that I would:)

I don't think I'll try tandem unless Marshall is really upset about it. He was always a beast to nurse and now that we've stopped I don't really want to volunteer to start back up again. Maybe I'll feel differently later?