In six weeks Monito will be six months old.
And I will have reached my exclusive breastfeeding goal.
I was worried that I might reach that goal and still not feel good about stopping. I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case. I’m feeling really done with this effort. I’m done with the pain and discomfort. I’m done with scheduling my life around when I next need to pump. I’m done with losing 45 minutes of sleep, or having to pump in the car every morning. I’m done with not fitting into even my biggest clothes. I’m done trying to maintain my milk supply. I’m done not taking my ADD medication. Six more weeks is doable, and when it’s done, I’ll be so ready to stop.
Six months–27 weeks–of exclusively breastfeeding my child. It will be an accomplishment, one I’m proud of. I know I’ll feel good about it when I make it that far.
My guess is it will take me a few weeks to wean myself off the pump. My doctor recommended I not stop cold turkey; she worries I’ll get mastitis again. I don’t know if I could handle the discomfort. I’ll start by pumping a little less each day. Eventually I’ll cut on of my pumping sessions completely. I think I can wean myself off the pump without too much engorgement in 2-3 weeks.
I’m researching formulas, and alternatives to formula. I’m looking into making my own raw milk formula. Living in San Francisco, I’m sure I could get everything I need (ie good quality raw milk). I have to look more closely into what it all entails, the positives and negatives of using unpasteurized milk. I’m sure we’ll be using some powdered formula–I’m looking forward to the ease of mixing a bottle when I’m out and about. I’m so done carting around a cooler and a thermos of scalding water.
I still have moments when I wish our nursing relationship had worked out. They are fewer and farther between, but they still happen. When they hit, I try to accept the regret and disappointment for what it is, and then move on. I also make sure to focus on the positives of bottle feeding.
It was at this point in Osita’s infancy that she started dropping drastically in the percentiles. The lactation consultants thought that the over-active letdown had made her lazy–she could basically just open her mouth and milk sprayed into it–but as my supply settled around four months, and she started having to work for it, she just didn’t eat as much. She went from 95th percentile to 15th percentile really quickly. It was a stressful time, and our increased nursing schedule ended up messing with her sleep. By the time she was six months old I was a mess.
Monito, on the other hand, is finally growing out of all his suck issues. He’s holding steady in the percentiles and sticking to his growth curve. He’s sleeping 10-12 hours a night, despite almost constant coughs and stuff noses. He gets plenty of milk during the day. It’s all so simple and it works so well. I always know exactly how much I’m making. When my supply starts to dip I just take some Fenugreek for a few days, or add an extra session of pumping, until it goes back up. There is no guess work and I feel so much more confident than I did when I was nursing my daughter. I also have to admit that I enjoy the act of bottle feeding. I appreciate that his eating doesn’t cause me any discomfort–I don’t associate his need for food with my need to suffer, like I have before. I also love gazing into his eyes while he eats, and watching as the edges of his mouth curl up into a smile he just can’t suppress, despite the fact that it disrupts his meal. He’s so much happier than he ever was when we were nursing, and that makes me happy too.
Writing all that, I can’t figure out why I’m still wistful for a nursing relationship. I guess I just want what I see so many other woman have. Sure, nursing was never a positive experience for me, but so many women do it so, so well. It’s a defining facet of their attachment to their children. And there is a part of me that will always feel abnormal and defective that I couldn’t make it work right. I’ve definitely internalized the “breastfeeding is natural, all women can do it,” sentiment offered by LCs and LLLs, and there is a part of me that will always feel like the way I feed my baby is less than, or artificial, in some way. I mean, if it requires an array of made-made contraptions to work–it can’t be called “natural.” Where I come from, “natural” is always superior. Always.
I try to turn it around, and be thankful all those man-made contraptions exist and are readily available to me, so that I have the choice to offer breast milk DESPITE all our issues. And I am thankful. So very, very thankful. But that doesn’t take away the feelings of regret and disappointment. I suppose it’s just more of that cognitive dissonance again.
So six more weeks, to the day, until I’m officially done with breastfeeding. On April 22 I will start weaning myself off the pump. And when my breasts stop making milk, I’ll throw away my pump (No one will want it, right? You can’t share personal pumps?) and pass my pump parts on to a friend, and walk away from my complicated feelings about breastfeeding, forever.
And I’ll be so, so proud that I met my goal.