Tuesday, August 28, 2012

the end of an era

this might be a little TMI for some of my [male] readers. if you aren't interested in hearing about a mama's struggle with her nursing days coming to an end, i say you skip this one. your welcome.


"it's starting to happen" -- that's typically the follow up to my "yes" answer when people ask if i'm still nursing. yes. i am still nursing. but that inevitable "it" is starting to happen. by "it" i mean the slow but steady decrease in my milk supply, coupled with this wave of denial that comes over me almost daily. "it" started making "it's" appearance about a month ago. 

when i was pregnant, i knew i'd love nursing my baby. strangely enough, it was one of the things i used to look forward to most. it wasn't easy at first. in fact, it was a lot harder those first 2 weeks then i expected. (i'd have these really vivid dreams about nursing and it was like my boob and the baby's mouth were magnetic. it was so easy... if only that were the case in real life, right? although, not sure how i'd feel about my nips being magnetic...) it got better, and i loved it just as much as i expected. sure, there continued to be things that stressed me out about nursing -- like the smaller feedings almost guaranteeing me a middle of the night wake up call. or the back of the car feedings, or the days where he just didn't feel like eating as much as i had to offer (not cozy!), or the dreaded pump. but all of the good that comes along with it far outweighs the stress. like the instantaneous bond you have with your baby. no one really ever explained that bond to me and i do believe it is different for every mama and bambino. for me, it was the first big accomplishment we did together (aside from the actual giving birth thing!). we were both new at the whole concept and the feeling of pride i felt for the both of us when we finally "got our groove" is a feeling i'll never forget. i can easily recall that saturday night where just he and i were home, up on our bed and i was desperate for him to have what my doula kept referring to as a "good feeding"... many times before a feeding, he'd have this freak out when i tried to latch him. it was absolute misery knowing my baby was starving yet i couldn't get him what he needed most. the pressure to feed your baby.... yah, no one prepared me for that. it's a lot easier said than done to relax in those moments  -- and relaxing is really the only thing you can do to get things movin' down. (tip for new mamas/mama's to be: the best advice i got came from lindsay -- it can be stressful and hard to "let down" sometimes - especially when your baby is screaming and you are doing everything you can to just get the latch right... take deep breaths. i still do it. it usually takes one, good, deep long breath for me to let down now in environments that are super stressful -- say, an airplane or nordstrom's nursing room with 3 other mom's that are happily nursing away and in your mind, wondering how long your baby is going to take to latch.) the bond was ours and ours alone. i had the most perfect excuse to take a few minutes to be alone with my baby. no one could ever argue with the boob. 

i always said i'd nurse as long as i could - thinking that would be about 5 or 6 months. i never wanted to put an end date on it and i sure as heck didn't want to put a marker on it just because i felt i had to. but once i got to about 7 months, i thought, "ok - if i can get to a year, that would be good for him". but then at the 8th month, i got hit with a not so fun 'condition' that's made nursing super hard on me. i've been dealing with it for almost 2 months now, and i don't want it to be the reason i stop. i'm coming up on 10 months now, and i'm proud of that. i am not sure why i am struggling with it ending so badly - especially because it hasn't been comfortable for me for going on 8 weeks now. it's the end of an era i guess. am i the only one that has struggled with actually making the choice to just stop? how do you just stop? i know there is a lot out there and i obviously have avoided actually reading up on it. i know some of my friends have told me their babies weaned themselves... i always pictured it that way, and that could be what's happening already. i pretty much have a little man hanging from me these days with how long he is (90th percentile). part of me thinks maybe it would just be easier to do it now - before he gets even older and it is even harder to break. i joke that i don't want to give up my daily 500+ calorie burn but i am starting to feel it's bigger than that. i feel guilty. like i'm a quitter if i stop now. has "mom guilt" completely become my new driver in life? (why do i feel another post coming on this topic alone?!) i'm sad too. it seems so definite when you stop - because, well, it is. you can't go back. 

i know there are lots of opinions out there. i obviously need to do some research. & maybe i'm just not ready yet. that's ok too. but it will end, at some point, and i guess in true jordan-fashion, i'm mentally preparing early. 

if you have anything you are willing to share - please do. your experiences, thoughts and tips are always welcome.

thanks for listening. as usual. 

yours truly,
guilty lactating mom 

4 comments:

  1. Working with postpartum women on a daily basis this conversation comes up. A lot. My best advice is listen to your gut. That internal maternal instinct that tells you all sorts of great things. Basically, you will know when you are ready to stop. Whether that is tomorrow, a month from now or a year from now. You will know. Don't let the stress of a low milk production get to you. Milk supplies can take dips during changes in growth, introduction to solid foods and developmental milestones. He still needs his comfort, which for many babies, is the breast. Do what feels right - for you! Not for anyone else. And don't feel guilty. Each situation is different and unique and you don't want to have regrets in the end. Cherish each feeding session and instead of reading all the latest fb updates at 2am (like I tend to do!), watch Wyatt's sweet face, gaze into his eyes and cuddle with him. Because, ultimately, that's what you want to remember...the bonding, the connection, the emotion that no one else can provide.

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    1. Julie - Thank you so much for this note. I really appreciate your insight. And you are right. I do need to trust my gut on this one. And I need to stop worrying about my supply going down. It is definitely fluctuating for sure. Again, really appreciate your kind words lady! Amen :-)

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  2. I was feeling these exact same things a few months ago when my daughter was 11 months. Felt my supply decreasing because I couldn't pump at work anymore and we were only nursing three times each day. I felt guilty and just plain sad. I thought we would be done shortly. But my supply picked up a bit again and we got in a good rhythm of only nursing in the morning,before bed, and once at night. Then it decreased to two times (leaving out the night feeding). Then down to once a day (before bed). I was out of town last weekend for three days and figured that woud be the end of it. And I was so sad even though I was proud we made it to 15 months. When I returned from the trip my boobs hurt so much, so my husband told me to just nurse her, and relax. And I did. And I enjoyed it knowing it was almost over. I could feel my body let down that milk it ha stored up and I just knew we were done. The next two nights I tried nursing her to bed and she latched for a minute then pushed herself away and sucked her thumb. And it killed me. Maybe a little selfish, but I wanted her to need me still. The past few nights I've put her to bed without nursing. And she's ok. And I'm not in physical pain, which is a relief from last weekend. I'm proud of how far we got. But my heart is still hurting. I'm tearing up just writing this. Like you said, it's nice knowing that I just always had a few moments everyday just to be with her. And now that's gone for me.


    But I'm just trying to remember that she still needs me, and will for a while, just in different ways.


    Hope things are going the way you want. Like the previous commenter said, those lass few times I breastfeeding Annabelle, I made myself put down the phone, no Facebook or instagram, it's so easy to use tht down time for those things. But I told myself this time would be over soon so I just looked at her sweet chubby cheeks, gawked over her eyelashes, stroked her tiny hand, and enjoyed it, soaked her in.

    You should be proud I how far you've made it. Us mommies just do the best we can.

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    1. Amber - thank you so so so much for your comment. It's so nice to know there are others out there going through the same thing. I really appreciate your kind words. You're absolutely right - we do the best we can. 15 months is amazing. Way to go! Thanks again for sharing your experience with me. I hope you continue to comment!

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