Friday, March 27, 2009

Until Further Notice

I have slowly weaned Charlie from the breast over the last month. My goal was to make it to 6 months, but I wanted to gradually do this so that he wouldn't be shell-shocked by the formula he was getting. This week is probably the end of a milk supply that I diligently worked to keep up. I am so proud of us, today. Charlie and I made it this long, and I am ecstatic about that.

I haven't talked much about my breastfeeding experience, but I am going to now :o) There is your warning!! And this post might get a little long :)

Breastfeeding has been one of the most amazing, instinctual, challenging, selfless things I have ever dedicated myself to. When you are pregnant, I think there is a misconception that breastfeeding is somehow a super easy process that simply comes naturally for mom and baby. This could be the biggest fallacy of new motherhood. Breastfeeding is NOT easy. It is really, really hard. It takes massive dedication, and commitment. Even then, not everyone is able to successfully breastfeed. It creates guilt in ways that I have never understood, but yet it is the most primal, awesome act that I have ever done for my child, so far.

We have had a lot of breastfeeding challenges. It started with the latch in the hospital. I kept Charlie in our room, because he didn't want the pacifier, and he screamed in the nursery. They brought him to me time and time again, so we just kept him in our room. I had a Cesarean section, so getting out of bed, was very difficult for me. The entire time we were in the hospital, Curtis would have to bring him to me, or I would just let Charlie sleep on the pillow next to me. He would stir, I would nurse him. I was sure to seek out the help of the lactation consultants. I made friends with one of them, and requested her for the 4 days I was in the hospital. Every day, she would come by and help us with the latch. She helped me with the pump at the hospital, and I can still remember the day that I saw some colostrum come out of my breast! AMAZING. I really think that as much as I did not want a c-section, being in the hospital, completely helped our breastfeeding experience, thanks to her.

We got home, and it was a tough transition. For a long time, I would writhe and wiggle in pain while he latched on. I read the Nursing Mother's Companion in the middle of the night; the room lit up by Jay Leno, and Charlie attached to my breast. I needed reassurance constantly that we were doing this thing right. I still questioned whether he was getting enough milk, or if I was feeding him often enough, or had we created a snacking problem or what about his poop? OMG HIS POOP!! I over analyze things as it is, but with breastfeeding, it was just compounded. My determination had me wanting it to work out, and for it to get easier too.

When I returned to work, it got even more difficult. Being attached to a pump is not nearly as awesome as watching your baby with content eyes while he nurses. There are no content eyes. Just my office, a computer, me and the pump. Here is where the dedication and sacrifice comes in. Breastfeeding is a sacrifice. Whether it be your supply, or your nipples hurting, or that your child has a dairy sensitivity, or you work full time. There is always something that makes it challenging. All I wanted, was for it to get a little bit easier.

Easier it did get. It took awhile for my supply to establish itself, and for Charlie and I to get to know each other. It took some time. Time is what no one tells you about. I really believe that if you give it time and a TON of energy, you can successfully breastfeed your baby. Yes, there are extenuating circumstances for some people, I know this. (disclaimer: this is in no way a diss on people who can't breastfeed!!) And, the temptation to give up is always there. The formula cans arrive at your doorstep without you even asking for them. You are pressured to supplement in the hospital because your BABY IS STARVING, FEED YOUR BABY!! But, really, this has been the truest test of patience for me as well. It takes a lot of things I never thought I had in me.

Now, onto the good part. Breastfeeding is awesome. It's practical, it's cheap, it creates a bond that is unexplainable. I really believe it is the best thing for your baby. Breast milk has biological properties that are fascinating. To be a source of comfort for your child is something that I cannot define. I feel like I am that for HIM. I often look at Charlie's wrist rolls, or his chubby thighs, and I think to myself, "I did this. WE did this. You and me, buddy." To have 6 months of being the sole source of my child's nutrition really has made motherhood for me. It has created a beautiful bond that I share with my child. I feel a tiny bit of guilt for stopping, but we were both ready. I am going to miss our nursing sessions with his bright blue eyes staring up at me. It's such a trusting, joyous relationship that we have. Curtis congratulated me tonight, and told me I will continue that bond with Charlie. He is right. After 6 months, and a lot of hard work, I know that no matter what this child eats, he will continue to grow and be strong.

I am patting myself on the back. And ladies and gentleman, this milk-factory is closed for business until further notice :o)


Victoria said...

that was beautifully written! Great job on making it so far. I have to wean soon due to DS's allergies and I will miss the breastfeeding relationship so much, but I'm proud to have come so far

Trinity said...

Congratulations on making it so far!

Christina said...

This is a great post. I think the same thing about when I see the rolls on Baby J! Congratulations on powering through this and I'm glad that you got so much out of it!

Amanda said...

Great post and good job!

The Bozo's: said...

You are so awesome! Congratulations on making it this far. It is an awesome feeling isn't it??!!

Jamie said...

Em, What a great summary of an amazing experience. I think you captured it perfectly. Thanks for sharing!

Mia said...

Thank you for posting this E. It's nice to know that I am not the only one who feels this way about BF.

wedbliss5 said...

Congrats on 6 wonderful, hard, amazing, rewarding, painful, months!