Today I am bring a HOT topic to the discussion board. Sure, this topic has the potential to get some panties in a twist but I think it is something that we need to talk about. Plus, I know that we can have an open minded honest discussion without jumping on top of one another because that’s the kinda gals we are.
If you run a quick google search on breastfeeding infants you are sure to come across some lively debates. Mom’s from all walks of life argue between #breastisbest and #fedisbest. I am not afraid to get in the middle of this discussion.
So here it comes: I stopped breastfeeding at eight months and it still breaks my heart today.
Breastfeeding Opinion + Personal Goal
While pregnant with Isaac I stumbled upon the hashtags #breastisbest and #fedisbest. I was confused at first. Fed is best? Really? Is anyone ACTUALLY arguing this point? The short answer, no. I mean, obviously fed is best and I don’t think anyone out there has ever had the thought “if you can’t breastfeed don’t even bother feeding.” Because, well, that would just be ludicrous.
My next thought was, how is this even an argument?
This is where I need you to hang in there with me: the milk our bodies make should be best.
I read all of three medical journals on the positive benefits of breastfeeding and science has concluded: breast milk is the BEST thing for your babies development and growth. Not only is breast milk packed with vital nutrients, your body can actually detect a sickness coming on and provide baby with antibodies to fight off any infection. AMAZING!
So why did I say should?
I said should because there are cases where breastfeeding your baby is NOT what is best. For instance, and this is going from 0-100, drug or alcohol abuse.
Or if breastfeeding is draining mom’s mental health.
Read on to hear about my breastfeeding journey and the emotional roller coaster that led me to stop.
The Six Month Goal
I set the goal of six months when I found out I was pregnant. I wanted to set a measurable goal for him and I, but I didn’t want to set myself up for frustration at not being able to make it to a year. In the back of my head, however, I already had the idea that I would make it to a year.
Isaac spent the first four days of his life in the NICU (you can read all about that emotional time here). He was on fluids and antibiotics and so we didn’t even get to start breastfeeding until day two. When we started breastfeeding, we discovered that I had flat nipples. In truth, it wasn’t so bad and we got the hang of it quickly.
On the supply side, I was doing GREAT. My supply was coming in full force from the time that boy came out and by the time we got home with our man, I was able to start freezing 4 to 10 oz of breast milk each day. It was a great feeling and serious sense of accomplishment. I’ve always been bustier so I was happy there was finally a reason for my curvaceous top half.
I LOVED breastfeeding. The bond of breastfeeding is a real thing. Ben was jealous that he didn’t get to breastfeed so he gave Isaac a bottle of pumped milk almost every night so he could share in the bonding of feeding times.
In no time at all we reached six months and set the next goal, nine months!
The Steady Decline of My Supply
For Easter this year we drove out to my parent’s house in Pennsylvania. Isaac was just under seven months and was really starting to get the hang of crawling around. I had a small tin of Similac formula that was sent to us in the mail and brought that along for the nine hour drive. I also figured my little sister, who was 13 at the time, could feed Isaac (which she very much appreciated and I will share more about that later because LOL!)
Looking back, using the formula (more than breastfeeding) for four days was a huge mistake. My supply never fully recovered.
Over the next month or so I tried SO HARD to recover my supply after the Easter trip. I breastfed Isaac and would sit on the pump for 20 minutes after. At night, after little man had gone to sleep, I power pumped for an hour. I sipped mother’s milk tea and chewed on boobie cookies.
I did see a slight increase in my supply again from all of this hard work but then the worst thing happened…
Isaac preferred the bottle.
If you remember, little man has been sleeping through the night since he was ten weeks old. We haven’t had to do many night time nursing sessions since, and during the day he is on the move! The man loved breastfeeding but the bottle gave him freedom he didn’t even know he wanted until he got a taste for it. Isaac crawled at a RUN at this point and our house was just waiting to be discovered (& destroyed).
Today he drinks a few ounces of the bottle, goes and plays for ten minutes, and then returns to the bottle for another sip. He isn’t stuck in my grasp or waiting around for me to get ready and setup with the boppy and burp rag.
Around seven months Isaac started eating what we ate. Instead of puree’s he was eating big people food and learning to feed himself. If you’ve seen his rolls you KNOW he is a big fan of food.
His drop in interest in breastfeeding made total sense. But it still hurt.
The Emotional Roller Coaster
Let me say it again, stopping breastfeeding broke my heart. Today Isaac is days away from ten months old. I still get sniffly remembering when we used to sit skin to skin, and rock while he nursed.
But here’s the thing, I wasn’t just sad.
I was pissed. I was mad at my boobs. Mad at my body. And heck, mad at my son. Why did I use the formula? Why is my body not doing what it needs to do to nourish my baby? Doesn’t he want to snuggle up to me anymore?
I cried, pathetically and dramatically, one night curled up in Ben’s arms over the circle of life. The anger, the confusion, the frustration, the tears all came down to one thought: he doesn’t need me anymore.
From there, it was a snowball effect.
He’s going to go to school soon
Some girl is going to steal all of his attention
He’ll be going to college and moving out
He’ll get married
Ben, bless his heart, did his best not to laugh at me. Instead he sat there rubbing my back and let me cry it all out.
“We have a long time before any of that happens,” he assured me.
“Look how fast the last eight months have gone! He’ll be a year old soon and it’s just going to go faster from there!” I was in hysterics. It took me a long time to calm down.
In the end, I needed that good cry. Soon after, I reached acceptance.
The Fun of Watching Him Learn
I still get teary eyed remembering breastfeeding my boy. However, I thoroughly enjoy watching him try new things. The first time he crawled around with the bottle between his four teeth I was holding my stomach laughing so hard. As he has broken his teeth (we are on number 8!) I am thankful my nipple is no longer going near that cave of razors.
About a week ago my in-laws came over for dinner and Ben grilled us all steaks. Because we love to let Isaac explore the world of food, I cut a long thick piece of steak to let him chew on. Little did I know, Isaac had been working on his new set of tools.
He nawed for a few minutes, testing it out, and then we all watched as he bit down and PULLED. My nine month old got through a piece of freaking steak! Oh my goodness, the shocked inhale was echoed around the table as I jumped to swipe the big piece out of his mouth. *face palm*
The little punk got annoyed that I took it from him!
All in all, I have accepted the fact that we did not make it to a year. My son is a happy, healthy boy. He continues to amaze Ben and I each and every day. And he is smart as a whip (100% gets that from his dad). I am beyond proud to be his mother and proud that we made it as far as we did. I know that those six months of exclusively breastfeeding really helped his development and will help him for years to come.
What I Want YOU To Know
Setting a goal is a great way to keep yourself on track. Breastfeeding is emotional from beginning to end.
In the middle of the night when you get up to feed and your husband is still asleep you may find yourself cursing him for not being able to sustain life.
When that baby bites your nipple for the first time you’ll wonder who ever thought breastfeeding something with teeth was a good idea.
When everyone else is eating Thanksgiving dinner and you are stuck on the couch, alone, breastfeeding a baby that keeps trying to fall asleep…
And when you finally do stop it might BREAK YOUR HEART.
But you know what, that is okay because we are doing what is best for us and our baby.
And, as I said at the very beginning of this article, not breastfeeding is a choice and it is YOUR choice. Don’t ever let someone shame you for a choice you have made for you, your baby and your family. I HATE that this is even something we have to say, but we have to say it.
We are all doing our best and there are a lot of emotions that go with doing our best. So feel them, believe them and live through them.