Monday, July 26, 2010

The End of a (Very Short) Era

My breastfeeding relationship with Max is over. It's been hanging by a thread for weeks now and this weekend made me realize I need to end the fight.

I worked so hard breastfeed Max.  I've mentioned before how pre-pregnancy I was planning to breastfeed exclusively for a year.  Ha.  But after lots of tears, sore boobs, hours on breastfeeding message boards and multiple visits to the lactation consultants, I did eventually feed him breast milk exclusively. 

Then I went back to work.

My supply dropped immediately.  I went from pumping 8-9 oz to 2-3oz.  That's total, not per side.  I took fennugreek and drank dark beer with no results.  I tried pumping frequently but I was cramming 40 hours of work into only 24. Breaking away for 20-30 minutes was hard.  I found myself missing a pump without realizing it or getting called into last minute meetings screwing up my schedule. My frozen stash ran out and I eventually had to start supplementing his day care bottles

Max, getting more and more bottles at day care started to prefer them.  Getting him to nurse because increasingly frustrating and as of this weekend he just plain stopped. He screams when I try to nurse him and won't stop screaming until he gets a bottle

So today I realized it was over. After struggling to get him to nurse for 10 minutes I remembered what I vowed to myself when I went back to work.  "I'll breastfeed as long as I can.  When it's over, it's over and I won't drive myself bonkers trying to get it to work". So I gave him a bottle and I cried.

I cried that I couldn't be the "super mom" who worked, breastfed, cloth diapered, cooked organic meals every night and still managed to keep her regular eyebrow wax appointment. I cried because I now had to deal with smelly poop, constantly washing the ten million piece Dr. Brown Bottles, and the added formula cost to our budget. I cried because I don't get those extra 500 calories a day. I cried because I felt guilty. I cried because I felt like a failure.  I was a sobbing, mascara running, snotty-nosed hot mess. Hell, I'm still a hot mess as I write this post.

Most of all I cried because I felt that the special bond that Max and I shared had come to an end.  That final bit of physicality of our relationship that started when I was pregnant was over and I wasn't sure that I was ready for the end.

As my little cries turned into big sobs, Max reached up and put his tiny little hand around my pinkie finger and looked into my eyes. Then he spit the bottle out of his mouth and smiled at me. 

Maybe it will be okay after all.
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11 comments:

Katie said...

I cried when I stopped pumping, and it was for the same reason... I felt like that was the last straw, the very last part of my pregnancy to birth to feeding, and it was hard to let it go.

So.. instead of washing pump parts you get to wash some more bottles, but it's ok. Max can play in the same room and watch you,or hang out in his bumbo and you can tell him how annoying those straw parts are. :-)

I do want to tell you, I think you rocked breastfeeding. I know how hard it was, and to do as well as you did, and get 8 ounces a pump, is awesome. To give you perspective, even when I was pumping 5-8 times a day, I only, at most got 5 ounces, total, and that was like the first night he slept through. AND that was on fenugreek too. You gave him all you could, and look how cute he is!!!

Love, Katie

Funky Mama Bird said...

I couldn't breast feed for long, and while it was hard to stop, I learned to love giving my baby bottles. He would snuggle into me and I could really watch him eat. I hope you find some comfort in the process soon, too.

Dana @ The Coupon Challenge said...

Visiting from 31DBBB

I was fortunate enough to nurse my son until he was 7 months (my milk dried up) and my daughter for 11 months. You WILL get that bond elsewhere, I promise :)

Amy said...

Awww...I feel for you! My first son breastfed for 13 months, so when my second one was born, I thought it would be fine. He HATED breastfeeding, and I had to give it up. I was crushed. But things were OK. You'll get that bonding time!

Nina @ Momma Go Round said...

I understand totally! My son is a BEAST and simply needed more than I could make for him. I didn't understand why everynight he was super hungry until one night we were off schedule, I pumped, and got 1 ounce.

It was tough to let it go, but I promise it is not the end of your bond. It changes, but it is still just as sweet.

Jenny @ mamanash.com said...

Welcome, to Mommy guilt. It never ends. But just so you know, I nursed my babies for a year and I STILL went into the ugly cry when it was over. It doesn't matter how old the baby, it's still a hard decision.

And just so you know I still think you're a pretty kick-ass mama. I've never heard of any kid growing up and being disgruntle at their mother for not breastfeeding long enough. We put that on ourselves. Let it go. You are doing an AMAZING job!

Ofthesea said...

After reading this, I am even happier that you found my silly blog.

I went through very similar breastfeeding struggles, and going back to work also drew the curtain on it (it was never exclusive, tho - I'm so crap I couldn't even produce enough milk.)

Enjoy that you are now able to drink (yay! booze!) and get lots of cuddles with your boy not because you're feeding, but just for the heck of it.

Hope to see you at mine again soon!

M

Booyah's Momma said...

Man, this post made me a little teary. Mine just weaned, and it was so hard.

Another way of looking at it: the special bond will always be there, but now you can enjoy it without having to pump or smell like maple syrup (I hated that about Fennugreek).

Sandra said...

Awwww, Laura don't cry! It's society that's making you feel like you fail if you don't accomplish a hundred thousand things at once. Yes, breastfeeding is cheaper than formula. But your bond with your baby is there. And you persevered this long with the breastfeeding, you deserve a medal. So finish that good cry, then go have some more of that dark beer!

Natalie said...

I also planned on breastfeeding for the first year with my son. I made it just short of 8 months, and felt just as you described. The bond is still there...hang in there!

Thanks for linking up to Word Up, Yo!

mrstummy said...

Ok, if Brett's post made me teary-eyed, I straight up cried reading this one. I cried when I weaned Annie at 10 months, because she wanted nothing more to do with me, and I cried last week because my milk hadn't come in yet, and I was apparently starving my baby. Don't get me wrong, I'm a BF advocate, but why do the BF nuts out there make it seem like everything will fall into place on Day 2, and it will be the easiest, most glorious thing in the world? Talk about liars.

You did the best you could, and what's most important is that Max is happy, healthy, and loved, no matter where he gets his food from. And you'll still have the mother/son bond that no one can take away, and one that your future daughter-in-law will sure to envy you over ;)

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