Saturday, July 10, 2010

I've Hung Up the Towel

One week ago I decided I was done breast feeding.  The fact that I made it 6 months exclusively breast feeding (minus a handful of times Gianna was given formula and a tiny bit mixed in with her cereal) astounds me.  My plan was to only breast feed for two months and then see where it went from there.  By week 3 I was counting down the days, mins, seconds until that 2 mth mark.

Normally I am not a competitive person but my sister and sister-in-laws made it to the 2 mth mark so I HAD to too.  God forbid my sister-in-laws do something for so long and I fail when I attempt it.   In my post baby mind I HAD to match them and if possible BEAT them at breast feeding.... even if it was only for one day.  It was my first task as a new mother, and dang it I COULD NOT FAIL at it.  If I did then what other tasks as a mother am I going to fail at?! (Totally stupid, irrational, and just plain dumb. But this does give you some insight as how mentally messed up I was shortly after having Gianna.) Even as I woke up every three hours with blood shot teary eyes, painful boobs the size of melons,  and with nipples that looked like they were attached to a car and run through the gravel I insisted on breast feeding.  On top of it all I had it in my head that I needed this massive breast milk freezer stash.  I had had had to have it. Gianna NEEDED IT, so in between feedings I would pump and pump. Hating myself and hating the pump to the point that I wanted to chuck it out the window.  So a typical feeding session that would have been a half hour + long became an hour + long.  Milk would be gushing all over the place.  I would wake up completely soaked through in breast milk regardless of the boobie pads in my night time bra. I was engorged and in pain 24/7.

I wanted to give Gianna formula.  I so wanted to just say to hell with it all, give her formula, and be done with it.  I believe formula is not the devil and knew it was always an option, but I didn't do it.  The pressure I put on myself to successfully breast feed and the pressure I thought those around me were giving me was much larger than what I so desperately wanted.  (Not that there was any real pressure from those around me but again I was not normal in the head.)  So I pushed through it and just kept counting the weeks, days, hours, mins until that two month mark.  I was miserable.  I did not enjoy breast feeding.  Which in turn, I now believe, made me not enjoy my daughter.

Then two months hit and like God parting the clouds and letting the light shine down it miraculously got better.  Things.just.clicked. Things clicked with Gianna and things clicked with me.  I set the pump aside and said to hell with my stash I didn't need one.  I was obviously producing enough milk because Gianna was growing like a weed and milk was, HELLO!, gushing everywhere.  I am SAHM that never goes out without Gianna due to not having a babysitter and I didn't have many friends in the area (the shitty part of a gypsy life).  What the heck did I need this stash for?  My nipples started healing.  It no longer hurt.  Then the best part....I actually started to enjoy it.  It was getting, GASP!, easy.  So I told myself I would give it another month.

Then I gave it another month more. And then another.  I was hooked.  I loved it.

Around this time even if I wanted to give Gianna a bottle she wouldn't take it and I was always there with her so she never really needed it.  Plop out my boob and voilà, dinner done. No bottles, no mess, no cost.  Easy peasy just the way I like it.  I enjoyed the quite time that she and I shared when I fed her.  I loved when she would put her hand on my chest and rub it back and forth.  It was one of the only times I ever got snuggles.  It gave me pride to know that her growth and health was largely in part due to what my body created for her.

Then around 6 and a half mths I decided that I needed to do "Boot Camp" with Gianna.  She had to learn to take a bottle.  The thought of bringing out the pump made me want to gouge my eyes out and she was already taking formula with her cereal so I decided to give her one bottle of formula a day.  Just like that, she took to it.  From there I started to slooooooowly wean her.  Every few weeks I would drop another session and then another until I only had one session left, her am session.  My favorite session.  I figured I would do that for as long a Gianna would allow me to and for as long as my supply lasted.

My body surprised me because it kept on going.  I was still producing enough milk in that one feeding where I was able to feed Gianna for quite a bit longer than I anticipated.  I would bring her into bed with me and we would snuggle while she ate.  I loved that we were still sharing that moment... then she started biting me.  I  would tell her no and she would continue to do it.  Feeding after feeding it got progressively worse.  Finally last Saturday after a night of no rest and a breast feeding session that was causing me pain I told Hubs to make a bottle.  I was done.  I think my boobs were done.

I am proud of myself.  For me breast feeding with the single most difficult thing I have ever choose to do and I did it far longer than I ever thought I could.  I am not asking for applause or a pat on the back by anyone, but I am proud that I set myself a goal and not only made it but surpassed it.

These are the things I should've and will do differently next time:

  • Take a breast feeding course.- DER, why didn't I do that???  Common sense, C must not have any.
  • Consult and make best friends with a lactation consultant.
  • Use the pump sparingly. 
  • Not buy nursing bras with underwire.  What was I thinking?!
  • Buy nursing pads by the case load.
  • Lanolin Lanolin Lanolin.  I am going to bath my boobs in the stuff.   
  • Would have bought these Nuk Warm or Cool Breast Relief Packs from the start.
  • Would have become BBF's with this from the get too: Medela Soft Shells for Sore Nipples.
  •  Enjoy breast feeding!  Time with your little one goes too by too quickly and at the time I did not realize it.  Sadly, I found myself wishing away days due to pain and lack of sleep.  I will try harder to live in the moment.  

(Disclaimer:  I am of the stance that a well fed baby regardless of where the food comes from is a happy baby.  Happy baby equals happy momma.  Happy momma equals happy baby.  In no way am I trying to promote one over the other.  Your choice on how you feed your child is a personal decision and not one that I feel I can judge.) 


  1. Wow, good for you for doing it for so long!

  2. I think it's great that you breastfed for 6 months!! I think any time that a mom can do it is great, but 6 months is a long time!!

    I bet you feel so much better having your body back to yourself! That is one thing I definitely look forward to. There are certain dresses or shirts in my closet that I'd love to wear, but they just aren't breast-feeding friendly, so they remain until I am not bound by that regular feeding session.

    Congrats on your breastfeeding accomplishment!!!

  3. Great job breastfeeding for 6 months. I loved this post and love the end where you say what you would do differently next time. It's great to learn from experiences.

    I am a new follower to your blog, and after reading for a bit I think you are from my area.

    Looking forward to reading more about you and Gianna.