Our nursing journey has essentially come to an end. It’s bittersweet but in the end, I’m mostly relieved, as painful as it is to say that.
It was an uphill battle making it to six months. I always felt like I was fighting a losing battle. All those sweet babies who nurse happily, and fall asleep at their mum’s bosom…Ethan was never like that.
He was, what many would call, a lazy nurser. He never had a great latch – it certainly got better around 2 – 2 1/2 months – but with my faster letdown early on, once things slowed down and evened out, I think he got lazy.
Lately, my supply has plummeted. I know there’s tons you can try to boost it – but after the bars, the muffins, the baking lactation cookies – all of which I’ve done. The fenugreek which only made me nauseous, drinking myself to oblivion with water – none of it helped much. If at all.
I sensed on our trip to South Carolina that he was going to sleep still hungry. Even after nursing. His nursing sessions were shorter, but I attributed that to efficiency. I heard it was common for babies to nurse for only 5-10 minutes. But he’d still scream and cry as if he was still hungry, as if I was starving him but after that, he wouldn’t latch back on. He’d slap my breasts and pull away giving me horrid bits of “niplash” where babies unlatch themselves too quickly.
It got to be too much. He wasn’t eating and no one was sleeping.
So we limped to my short term of 6 months. Barely. But we made it.
We started him on purees around 5 1/2 months, he was showing signs of readiness so after I picked up our high chair at the wee sale, we started him on about 1 tablespoon of pureed vegetables once per day. At dinner time, before bath time. It added a really nice structure and he’s so far loved the veggies and some fruits we’ve given him.
That probably didn’t help my tanking supply but he was going to start sooner or later and the doctor said it was fine if he was showing interest.
But man, the guilt. The overwhelming feeling of guilt – as if 6 months is nothing. As if it wasn’t good enough. Six months of giving myself to my child, unconditionally, and providing him with his only source of nourishment. There have been lots of tears, there still are. I’m still pumping mind you – four to five times per day – but I’m barely getting two ounces per session. I pumped 3 oz the other morning and I wanted to jump for joy even though 3 ounces used to come easily and I would always get more than 3 oz easily in the morning. (How long I continue pumping is yet to be determined based on my sheer level of hatred for the pump especially considering how little i’m getting with each session)
But then I talked to some pals. They reminded me that a happy mama matters as much as a happy baby. There’s no reason to stress about this, formula is not poison, having a well fed baby regardless how you get there is all that matters. I am not a bad parent for feeding Ethan formula. I am not a bad parent for not wanting to break my back trying to boost my supply with success unlikely. None of this makes me a bad parent.
Adam will be the first to tell you that he loves that he can experience feeding the little guy now also. And I get to see sweet moments like this each night now. Really, we’ve found a perfect balance. I don’t know how long I will continue to pump but right now he’s getting 2-3 bottles of formula each day, and the rest is breast milk. We’re at about half and half so far and I’m trying to pump enough to keep up with that without dipping too far into my freezer stash which is probably enough to last a couple of days total. I’ve considered it for emergencies…I suppose this may classify as desperate times though right?
Either way, he’s a happy well fed child and really, no matter how you get there, that’s all that matters.