Thursday, September 29, 2011
The end of breastfeeding and the beginning of growing up.
If you are visiting from my guest post over on the wonderful Fearless Formula Feeder's blog, welcome! I wrote that post back when George was about two and a half months old, and a lot of things have changed now that he is almost seven months old. He's ancient! I am pretty sure I saw a wrinkle on the kid this morning. Or maybe that was a fat roll.
Back in May I mentioned I had begun weaning George, but I did not go into detail. It was a difficult decision to make, especially after the emotional and time investments I put into making breastfeeding work. And what made it even more difficult was that around three months, breastfeeding finally turned beautiful. It was amazing, the stuff successful breastfeeders always tell you when they ask you to stick with nursing for another few weeks, months, whatever it takes to get to the land of rainbows and unicorns and cuddly nursing babies. I realize I was lucky to get there. Not everyone can, probably because it doesn't even exist for everyone, which is something I wish a lot of breastfeeding advocates were able to admit. I got there because I was able to make changes that allowed me to feel good. I made peace with my poor supply and stopped pumping after every feeding. Instead of breastfeeding at every feeding, I switched off between bottle and nursing, so when I did nurse, it was a full feeding. Combo feeding became easier, and consequently even more pleasant.
Apparently George agreed that breastfeeding was made of awesome. If nursing was the land of unicorns, then bottlefeeding grew to be the land of mean people who stick hot pokers in the baby's mouth. Over the weeks, he began to despise the bottle, and would cry, kick, fight, flail, and communicate in every way he could that he did not want that bottle.
Well. That is kind of a problem when you have half a milk supply that you were never able to successfully increase over the course of three months full of pumping and galactagogues, and your baby apparently has the perseverance of...well, you. Ask El Hub, I am stubborn. Guess George inherited that from me! Point - Momma.
So, I made the decision to give up breastfeeding to extinguish George's memories of it in order for him to take the bottle more easily. The last day we nursed was on my birthday. We started on his birthday and we ended on mine. There is a symmetry to it that I find bittersweet.
If George had been willing to take both bottle and breast, I have no doubt that we would still be combo feeding. I really liked the rainbow land full of unicorns we traveled so far to visit after I made peace with my milk supply and before George's disdain for the bottle became detrimental.
It has been over three months since we stopped nursing. I do still miss it. George does not, which has helped make bottlefeeding successful again. We are following the number one rule, "Feed the baby." He is growing. He is happy. So in spite of my sadness over the loss of our breastfeeding relationship, I am overwhelmingly happy. I realize that over the coming years, there will be many moments I both celebrate and mourn, because they will be the landmarks of his growing up. When he starts crawling, when he starts using the bathroom by himself, when he goes to school, when he starts making friends on his own, when he goes to college - for every milestone that commemorates our wonderful growing boy, it will serve as a reminder that he will need us less. As El Hub says, that is the point. But I like to celebrate the present, look forward to the future, an reminisce about the past all at once.
Hey, look at me, juggling all these corny emotionally-loaded balls in the air! If I drop one, I think I might burst into cliché hormonally-induced tears and get baby fever, so let's not drop one.
Long story short, we are continuing to do what is best for George and for our family. Life is good.