It’s been a couple of weeks since I completely stopped breastfeeding. I didn’t think it would make me so sad.
Here’s a pic of me at my proudest breastfeeding moment – in the middle of the viewing field at a car race! Lil Man was just shy of four months old:
Let me just get on my soapbox for a second: Whoever says that nursing in public is disgusting and too revealing, obvioulsy hasn’t seen it done. Look at that. I’m more covered up than most people are at church. Making women feel uncomfortable for feeding their children is just wrong. Yeah, it may not be the most pleasant thing to look at, but a screaming, hungry infant isn’t pleasant either.
::stepping off soapbox::
I knew it would be the last time. He’d been nursing just once a day, right before bed. It was our quiet time where he’d snuggle into me and finally – finally! – slow down and relax for the day, so I’d been hesitant to let it go. But it was time. My supply was pretty much gone and we were going to DH’s office holiday party the following night. I knew that at this point, missing one night of nursing would pretty much dry me out.
Usually, DH reads to Lil Man while I nurse him, or he’ll stay in the room and we’ll chat and catch up for a little bit. That night, though, I told him that he could skip reading and that I’d be down in a minute. I wanted it to be just me and Lil Man.
He snuggled into me, and started doing his thing. I stroked his cheek, kissed his hand, tickled his ear. And I cried. Not sobbing – the boy did need to go to sleep, after all. But I was pretty much a hot mess.
Why was it so difficult to let go?
The answer is easy. It was such a struggle to get started. Lil Man was having trouble getting enough breastmilk – he wasn’t strong enough to suck long enough to get his nourishment. Just days after being born, at his first pediatrician checkup, the doctor told me that he fully supported breastfeeding, but he had lost too much weight. He said to give him formula right then or they’d have to check him into the hospital. He was <this> close to being ‘officially’ dehydrated. My heart broke a little as I watched DH give Lil Man a bottle at the doctor’s office. It broke even more when I saw Lil Man chug it down like he was doing a keg stand at a frat party. Just days into being a mom, and I had starved my child.
This sent us into a haze of LC appointments, taping a
gerbil feeder formula supplementer to my boob every two hours (day and night), finally supplementing with a couple of ounces of formula at night, pumping. Ugh. Pumping. Then he weaned himself off the bottle completely. I felt whole, purposeful, womanly…I felt like freaking mother nature.
Then I went back to work. The pumping was horrible. I pretty much lived attached to the pump. I spent about 2 hours at work pumping just to barely get enough to feed Lil Man. Then I had to add an extra pumping session at night. Then some days I’d have to wake up at 5 a.m. to pump enough for daycare.
Eventually, when Lil Man was about seven months old, I had to quit pumping. I was living attached to the pump, and it wasn’t enough. With all that, I was only able to pump enough for one bottle each day. But actual breastfeeding was still working, so I consoled myself with that small victory.
I had never thought about breastfeeding. I knew that ‘that’s what they’re there for’, but at the same time, it seemed like the way to feed a baby was with a bottle. Isn’t that what we grew up doing with our baby dolls? I started breastfeeding because that’s what the doctors said was the ‘right’ thing to do. I also wanted to make use of my oversize boobs – my JWowws, as I call them. They’ve always been a pain in the ass, and I’ve had problems being taken seriously sometimes because they’ve always been huge. I wanted there to be a reason why I had ginormous ‘ladies.’ I figured I’d try nursing and see how it went.
But that day at the doctor’s office, I knew I had to make it work, or at least try my hardest. And I’m so glad I did. It became our time. Lil Man ended up being super rambunctious and never ever ever stands still. Nursing always gave him time to slow down and reset. Well, most of the time. He has been known to do jumping jacks while feeding voraciously. It was time when we connected and played little games. He’d turn my head and I’d make sounds like my neck was creaky, or he’d touch my nose and I’d stick my tongue out. He knew he could always turn to me for comfort. And bit by bit, he needed me less and less.
I’ve noticed that he’s been a bit cuddlier as of late. He’ll actually sit on my lap for a whole 15 seconds, or burrow into my neck for three or four seconds. This never happened before, and I soak up every little bit that I can. I do feel that maybe he’s missing the closeness of nursing and this is why he’s so cuddly. Part of me feels like I’m depriving him.
I think it all boils down to the fact that this was the last bit of his babyhood. He is now a little boy. But he’s still my baby, and always will be.
Just to lighten the mood, and as a thank-you for making it through this long sob story, here’s my favorite picture of Lil Man at the same place that we took the NIP shot: