Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ode to the Boob

It's been almost a month now since I stopped breastfeeding, and I don't know that I could be much happier about my decision.

When I had Em I wasn't sure if I'd be able to breastfeed.  My mom had problems with it (production issues) and I wasn't sure if that was a genetic thing or not, but I wanted to try and figured I'd do it as long I could... not just for the health related reasons, but also because it a whole LOT cheaper!

Emily was a natural breast-feeder and didn't have much trouble latching on at all.  While I was home on my maternity leave, nursing was great.  It was easy, and available and free.  When we would leave the house, I wouldn't have to worry about bringing a bottle/formula because I was biologically prepared.  And, much to my surprise, it was working.  She was gaining weight.  She was happy and healthy.  And, aside from frustration from time to time that I was the only one who could actually feed her, I was doing ok, too.

And then I went back to work... and had to pump.  Pumping is no fun what-so-ever.  It's especially no fun when you have to find the time to do it... on your breaks and lunch... meaning that I got no breaks or lunch... for almost 4 months.  I locked myself in a single bathroom, with harsh lighting and a loud fan for 20 minutes or so 3 times a day.  I FINALLY figured out how to use rubber bands to attach the cups to my nursing bra so I could read a book while I was stuck in there, but it was still an uncomfortable, unnatural, inconvenient activity... but I did it, for my daughter.

And then, one day, somewhere around the 4 month mark, I got an e-mail from our daycare provider that she had run out of milk... and it was only about noon.  I had a mini-meltdown at my desk.  Thankfully, we had some formula packets in the diaper bag as a "just in case" so there was an option available for her last couple afternoon bottles... but she had never had formula before and I didn't know if she'd take the bottle.  I was angry and frustrated that I wasn't able to provide for my daughter.

I was religiously taking fenugreek to help with my supply (SEVEN pills a day), but, even though I started to smell strongly of maple syrup, it did not appear to be helping and I was still quickly running through my freezer we started to supplement Emily's bottles with 50/50 milk and formula mix.  At first she was a little annoyed, but she took to it, and I continued to feed her when I was able, and pumped at work... but I was pumping less and less every day.

Then one day I forgot my pump at home and went all day without pumping... I realized that I didn't physically NEED to pump anymore (i.e. there was no "uncomfortable" feelings if I didn't do it), and I was able to take an actual lunch break!  I decided that I would stop pumping at work, and try to do it once at night, and again first thing in the morning.

This went on for a couple of weeks until Emily hit what must have been a 6 month growth spurt.  One days she nursed, and nursed, and nursed and was not getting enough to satisfy her.  I felt horrible.  I felt like I wasn't doing my job... and that something was wrong with me.  Finally I succumbed and gave Emily a bottle of formula... and she guzzled that thing down... which made me feel even worse about my own inabilities.

At that point, out of anger and frustration, I told Jacob that I was done.  I couldn't handle the stress of it anymore... but I still continued to nurse about once a day (always supplemented by a bottle directly afterward).  Until, one day, I didn't nurse... and then two days... and then three.  I didn't intentionally stopped, I just kind of forgot about it.  And I am so relieved.

I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.  No longer am I the sole food provider.  No longer do I have to worry about what I eat (or drink!) and how it will effect the little one.  No longer do I have to worry/feel guilty when she has bad gas because it must have been my fault for eating the bean burrito for lunch.  No longer do I have ti find a comfortable, somewhat private place to sit down and nurse when I'm in public... I can give her a bottle... anywhere!

For the first 6+ months of her life Emily got at least SOME breast milk, and, for that, I am proud of myself, but I am perfectly happy not to go another 6 months. 


Shannon said...

Six months is a huge accomplishment! Good job!

I'm still nursing and pumping but from day 1 we've supplemented with formula too so even if I can't pump enough I know he'll still get something. I hate pumping and plan to stop next month once we can switch him to whole milk just to keep saving as much as we can on formula. I don't know how long I'll still be able to nurse after I stop pumping. I actually don't mind nursing so I'll probably be a bit sad when that ends.

{jes} a mountain bride said...

oh wow - GOOD JOB with your efforts! What a lucky little girl you worked so hard to provide what you did!!

I hated pumping/breastfeeding...I found it extremely painful...and pumping at work was a CONSTANT stress and terribly uncomfortable. We supplemented right away because there was no way that I could produce enough milk for her - but I was proud of what I was able to give her everyday. It was such a relief when I stopped breastfeeding (though I missed nursing her and spending those sweet little moments all cuddled together.)

I'm having another baby soon and I'm already having nervous meltdown thoughts about the whole breastfeeding/pumping issue!