Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hanging Up The Horns

Well, my breastfeeding story is coming to an end. And I’m really, really, really, really sad about it. Which is crazy – given that for the last 5 and a half months – my “breastfeeding” story has consisted of feeding exclusively pumped breastmilk to my child. (See “my breastfeeding tale of woe..) And EP'ing, as it is known, is not for the faint of heart. It's really difficult, and very draining. So for me to be sad that it's ending - is somewhat bizarre. But it's not just the end of pumping. It's the end of my breasts producing milk for Jack .. the end of what I had hoped would be a beautiful experience (but wasn't) .. the end of any possibility that Jack will ever nurse again .. the end of something I wanted very badly for him. My inability to nurse Jack will always be a hurt in my heart. I do not dwell or obsess about it. But it's there. It broke my heart.

I decided, a while ago, that 6 months would be it as far as EP'ing. If we were nursing at the breast - I have no doubt we'd go much, much longer. But that is not our story, and EP'ing bears no resemblance to nursing at the breast. It is incredibly time consuming .. means living your life in 3 - 4 hour increments, always tethered to the pump .. basically you breastfeed a machine while your child waits .. it's all the work of breastfeeding AND formula feeding - but none of the beautiful bonding of nursing at the breast -- and none of the ease of simply readying a bottle of formula. Just not a simple endeavor - by any stretch.

Jack turned 6 months old this past Sunday – May 17. Unbelievable. My big boy. He is so amazing. But as I wrote before – he needs a helmet for plagiocephaly – so that means lots of appointments which make pumping on any kind of a schedule even more ridiculous than it already is. And also – with warmer weather upon us – I decided that I want to spend my time with Jack doing other things besides pumping – which has actually taken time AWAY from Jack. I have questioned myself more than once – am I doing the right thing? Do the benefits of feeding him breastmilk outweigh the fact that it is interfering with my ability to spend as much time with my son as possible, especially given that I am a working mom?

Up until 6 months – my answer was “yes”. But now – it’s no. At 6 months – Jack’s digestive system is mature enough to handle solid foods – and – an all formula diet. To make myself feel better – I have switched him to Earth’s Best organic formula (before I was supplementing approximately 2 bottles a day using Similac.) But formula will be his new solo beverage – soon (I’m still pumping a couple of times a day right now – just today dropped from 3 to 2 .. before that had dropped from 4 to 3 for over a week – and before that had been at 5 pumping sessions per day for months and months and MONTHS.)

I am very proud of myself. I wanted to quit a hundred times, I had so many obstacles, and I have big, ugly, purple keloid scars on both nipples from all the damage done the first 2 weeks of Jack’s life while I was still putting him on the breast. But I kept going. I believed he deserved breastmilk and I am a stubborn, stubborn lady. So I found a way to give it to him.

I love you Jack. So much. I hope I did the right thing by you. I think I did. But I’m hanging up the horns – for good (at least this go round…) – very soon. And I think it will be a good thing for both of us. Or at least an OK thing. With some good ... more time for walks together ... no more letting you fuss on your playmat alone while I finish pumping ... and a less exhausted, more relaxed mommy.

It hurts to think I won’t be giving him breastmilk any more though. I have always taken GREAT satisfaction in watching him drink a bottle of breastmilk. It always made me feel so happy – made all the horrid pumping worth it. And now that is coming to an end. And it’s hard. But it’s time. Soon.


admin said...

Six months is a great milestone. And you should be proud of yourself for lasting that long. I have many friends who have been in similar situations to you and I know how much they struggled when breatfeeding didn't turn out how they hoped. It must be devistating!
But you held on longer than most. I hear you about that damn pump. Not convenient. Not fun!
He'll be better for the choices ou may. No doubt!'

Mommy D said...

I've been a quiet lurker for quite some time, but I had to come out of hiding :) and give you a HUGE pat on the back... You did what a huge majority of the population can't muster. You fed your sweet baby breastmilk for 6 months! Did you now the national average is somewhere around 13 weeks? You did a truly AMAZING thing for your baby and you should be very proud!!

Myndee said...

Oh, man. I'm going to have to type this one day. I'm still hoping to make it to a year, but if I didn't have a good supply and an awesome boss, there's no way I could do it. EPers deserve a medal! Oh, and it was better for me since my little one didn't stop nursing until around 3.5 months.

I'm sure by now though, you and Jack are both happier and well adjusted to his new food. :)