When the kids and I were visiting my parents in Nebraska last month, my mom asked me how nursing was going with Aden. "Good," I responded. "He seems happy and satisfied after feedings. I think things are going well." The day after we returned from our trip, I came down with a case of the stomach flu. My milk supply took a major hit while I was sick and never rebounded. I drank tons of water, continued to take Fenugreek pills regularly and even started Domperidone to increase my milk production, but nothing worked. My supply was never the same.
A day or two later, I'd just finished a nursing session with Aden when I heard his tummy growl. "Is he still hungry?" I wondered. Eep. I prepared a bottle of frozen breast milk and Aden guzzled 6 ounces. (!!!) A lump formed in my throat because I knew in that moment we were on the downward spiral to being done with breastfeeding.
Over the next two weeks, I supplemented with frozen breast milk or soy formula after every nursing session and Aden drank anywhere from 2-6 ounces. It came to a point where he'd scream and arch his back every time I attempted to nurse him, but would slam a bottle of milk in record time. At 7 months and 4 days, I nursed Aden for the last time.
I doubt a grown-up Aden will care in the least bit about my nursing experience with him, but for my own memory I'd like to document this special time I shared with my boy.
From the beginning, breastfeeding came easy with Aden. After a bit of initial fumbling on both our parts, he latched well at birth and seemed to take to nursing well. Two days after Aden was born, a fill-in pediatrician suggested I supplement with formula after each nursing session to help him bounce back to his birth weight. I didn't let the doctor's advice shake me, though I didn't agree with it. I knew from experience with Tory that formula is just food so I wasn't against feeding it to him; I just had faith in my body and knew my milk supply would come through eventually. I did as the pediatrician recommended (kind of, for a few days) and as I watched Aden grow, I knew I was doing alright by him.
Being a stay-at-home-mom was my secret to success in nursing Aden. I was more relaxed about feeding times than I was when I nursed Tory and fed Aden on demand. This method worked well for us, and he usually ate every 2-3 hours. I never felt "tied down" to nursing, and really enjoyed our quiet moments together. With a rambunctious toddler at home, there weren't many times Aden and I were one-on-one, but so long as I was feeding him every few hours I always felt like he and I had quality time together.
I also pumped once daily to build a milk supply in the freezer. It wasn't much (compared to some women who have a freezer full of milk!), but it was a good achievement for me. It allowed me the freedom to leave Aden for a few hours with a babysitter when needed.
I promised myself I wouldn't be as neurotic about breastfeeding this time around. There were some high and low moments, but overall my feelings were fairly even-keeled this experience. I'm not sure if other breastfeeding mothers feel like this, but sometimes I worried I wasn't producing enough milk for Aden; feared I'd fail him as a provider. At one particular low point when I thought I wasn't producing enough milk, I visited a lactation consultant when Aden was about three months old. Unfortunately, the LC wasn't much assistance, but she did weigh Aden before and after a feeding so I had an idea how much he was eating. I found a quote online that I repeated to myself whenever I questioned my breastfeeding ability:
Sometimes, I just needed someone to tell my mind I was being crazy. This little graphic did the trick.
Now here I am, wrapping up my breastfeeding journey with Aden. There's lots of emotions flooding through me as this phase in his babyhood is completed. A part of me feels guilty for no longer having enough milk to supply my baby. A bigger, more rational part of me knows he'll continue growing just fine. And, as shameful as this is to admit, I'm excited to have my body back again after 15 months of pregnancy and nursing. Tonight, I think I'll drink two glasses of wine, pop some cold medicine and skip dinner just because I no longer have a growing baby boy's needs to consider over my own.
Kidding! (Kind of.)
Life goes on, baby boy. Welcome to world of soy formula, bottles and smelly toots.