Wednesday, July 9, 2014

On Weaning (for real this time):

So as you'll notice, it took me a while to write this post. It took a lot to bring this here and to be ok with my decision. Also, I'll try not to bounce around too much. Breastfeeding is just so many things for me...

Henry turned 7 months a couple of weeks ago. And that was the point where I decided I would start thinking about weaning.

Before I get too deep into this I want to say a couple of things.

1.) I'm not sharing this to discourage OR encourage breastfeeding in anyway. You should do what is best for YOU and your little one.

2.) I would like nothing but support in my decision. If you have any negative thoughts or opinions keep them to yourself or take them elsewhere. Please and thank you. :)

I always knew I would breastfeed. I knew it before I even knew I wanted children. I didn't have any expectations though. I never knew what it would entail or all that it would take. Breastfeeding for me is such a bittersweet gig. I'll be honest, sometimes I question if I could do it again...if there's ever a baby #2. Sometimes I think there's no way I'm ever doing that all over again, but then there's times where I [REALLY] hope I'll be able to breastfeed longer with the next one.

This time around, however, 7 months was enough for me. 

Breastfeeding is such a selfless act. I know that it's natural and many, many, many women have done it and that's what our bodies were meant to do, but in this day and age it can be tough. As women, as mommas, as wives, our plates are so full. We're always on the go, some of us our working mommas, many of us our homemakers, a lot of us have multiple children, the point is, we're wearing many hats. Throw breastfeeding into the mix and you have a baby attached to you damn near 24/7, making it hard on a first time momma. Making it even harder are the people who criticize and don't understand breastfeeding. Making a mom terrified to take her baby outside of the home for fear she might actually have to feed her baby and make someone else uneasy.

IT'S NORMAL, PEOPLE!!! Breastfeeding is normal! Do you know how many things I see out and about that I don't want to see?? Turn and look the other way!

Our bodies are also coming home after immense and sudden change, and in some cases immense pain, and after 36 hours or so of practice and recovery, we're walking the plank to find out if we'll sink or swim. A breastfeeding class will never be able to prepare you for all that you will encounter. Henry latched on right away in the hospital and I thought to myself "What on earth is all the fuss about?" I thought we were naturals, pros even. Then I came home and the recovery pains really kicked in and I wondered how I would take care of another human being while I myself was in tremendous pain. When they tell you the baby will eat every two hours in the first few weeks, there is ZERO exaggeration and you will never know how quickly two hours passes, until you're breastfeeding. I would swear that I just handed him off to Kory and he was already crying again and ready to eat and suckle again. It was a tough gig in the beginning. There was pain and there were tears. Just when I thought we had pushed through and made it to the surface, the pain would kick in again. I will say that I should've gone to a lactation nurse. I never did and maybe that would have helped my pain. Eventually the pain flatlined and the engorgement leveled out and things became semi-natural. I'd say this didn't happen until the 4.5 month point, though.

At first I wanted to breastfeed for the health and well-being of my son. Then I wanted to do it for me, to be able to say that I did it and I accomplished something incredible. But, after several difficult months it was no longer for my son or for myself. It became about other people. I didn't want to let anyone down. I didn't want anyone to think I was selfish for giving up. I didn't want my husband to think I couldn't handle the simple things that made a mother a mother. My competitive nature had kicked in and I didn't want to give up because I wanted to be able to say, "I EBF FOR A YEAR, I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!" Then I realized I was no longer breastfeeding for the right reasons. We had made it out of cold season, so we had pushed through sickness(one of my initial reasons for BF). So why was I still doing this? I felt stressed, I felt like I couldn't go anywhere, I felt like I wasn't being the mom that I always imagined myself to be.

So with hesitation, I finally decided it was time to wean. Of course it wasn't easy! I'd say, "this is my last session(!)" and then as soon as he was ready I'd say "just one more!" Eventually, I slowly started dropping nursing sessions and we slowly introduced formula.

Again, I would never discourage breastfeeding, I will try again, but it felt like a house had been lifted off of me. I felt like a new woman. I felt like I could live again and really be a good momma to Henry. Breastfeeding was taking so much out of me, physically, mentally and emotionally. I needed to feel normal again and I needed to love on Henry in different ways.

Just a few afterthoughts...

I never pumped to feed Henry. I only nursed. I pumped here and there to relieve myself in the am and pm. Perhaps I should have more, so that we could've gone places. but, 1) In the beginning I could literally never put H down, so it was impossible to pump and 2) When I went back to work he ended up refusing my frozen breast milk. I'm positive that both of these factored into my stopping early.

I started this post nearly two months ago and I've come to the conclusion the BF can be like labor, you'll swear it off just like you swore off more children, but after time you'll come back around. :)

The cost of formula is insane and will make you rethink weaning. :) Another reason to EBF for as long as possible with baby #2.

I will never, ever forget all of the incredible and intimate moments with my babe. The look of 100% happiness and contentment in a baby is life-changing. Those post-feeding snuggles are irreplaceable. The way he'd always fall asleep on me during feedings is forever in my memory. I will never regret nursing him.
Breastfeeding for me, truly was bittersweet and although I threw the towel in early, I'm still proud of myself and grateful for our experience.
xx,
Melissa Loren

12 comments:

  1. I recently stumbled upon your blog through another that I follow. I have a 19 month old son now, but during his first year there were so many times I wanted to throw in the towel with nursing him. It is so challenging and you don't quite understand until you're in it, day after day! I commend you for sticking it out as long as you did. Your Henry is adorable! -Ashley

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  2. I had a bittersweet breast feeding experience as well. No one I knew had ever done it so I was all on my own to figure it out. I don't know what made me do it. I guess after research and the thought of being a kick ass selfless mom had a lot to do with it. I wanted to make everyone proud after what a terrible pregnancy I had. I had producing problems. I would drink soooo much water to try and keep up. I had to introduce baby food early just to help him get full. I didn't know what I was doing. Then I tried those milk producing herbs you get in a pill at natures pantry. I was allergic. Broke out in hives. Then I went to the ER because I thought I had thrush and I didn't want to give it to Bryson but I had hives. They gave me soemthing to ease the itching that dried me up and I cried and cried and cried. I tried so hard just to dry up. I made it to 6 months. A rough mentally exhausting struggle. But in those six months I didn't leave the house either. It is deff easier to bottle feed I agree. But there isn't nothing in the entire world like that bond. Id do it over if I ever have baby number two. I always think I'm weird but the thing I miss most is breast feeding. It's amazing I miss those moments. You did an amazing job and are so brave for sharing your actual thoughts during those moments. Moms are so worried about looking like bad mothers in front of others we forget to give ourself said break and credit for all the amazing selfless things we do every min for our children. I always say I'm gonna write a book on REAL parenting and real thoughts while being a mother lol. Congrats to you for sticking in it so long. It's deff not easy. Your Sucha good mommy and Henry is lucky to have you.

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    1. Thank you for your comment! Your words and your story will help others! You had a heck of a time, I applaud you for sticking with it, too!

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  3. Proud of you Melissa!! You are a strong and wonderful Mother!

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  4. I love this post! So brave of you to write it. Proud of you, mama!

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  5. Found your blog on the When at Home FB post and I'm so glad I stopped by.
    You were a great mommy for BF from birth and now you'll be a better mommy for stopping.
    Thanks for sharing this and know that you are a fabulous woman no matter what!
    Cindy

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  6. I wrote a friggin book and it just deleted it! Argh. Anyway, I'll condense this time. The first time BF'ing was tough. With my c-section and Landon's powerful sucking, it was too much. I switched to pumping and kept that up until he was 6 months. Like you, I felt both guilty and like a weight had been lifted. The second time around, I developed mastitis in the second week and it was so painful I had to yell out or tell my husband through gritted teeth to talk me through it. The nurse told me something I"ll never forget. She said, "The 4th or 5th week, you're going to wake up one day and it won't hurt anymore. Just keep working until you get there." So I did and just as she predicted, I woke up in the 4th week and it became a total breeze. It was even fun! I loved that time I shared with my second born so much that we kept right on going until just after he turned a year. I think you did the right thing. It should never become a burden to care for our little ones. When it's too much, it's too much. As mamas, I think we try extra hard to prove ourselves and to give selflessly until we're completely drained. But we have to remember that putting time and care into ourselves is just as important as anyone else. Good work lady! :)

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  7. You are so brave for sharing this. I've been exclusively pumping since 4 months. At 8 months the freezer supply ran out and we started formula and I moved to pumping only three times a day (huge weight lifted). Now I'm struggling with the when to stop. Selfishly, before our beach vaca sounds great, but then I think is that selfish? I love your decision and that it made you a better mother! Thanks for sharing!

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