Home | Posts RSS | Comments RSS | Login

Jan 2, 2009

The End

I decided to stop nursing Colin.

Don’t worry, we’re giving him bottles of formula now, he’s not starving. But I’m not going to breastfeed him anymore.

WARNING: If you are a man, anyone who knows me personally, or are yourself icked out by bodily topics, feel free to excuse yourself from this discussion. Hm, there may not be anyone left...

“Breast is Best!” they sing to us at every doctor’s appointment. “Oh! I’m so glad to hear you’re still breastfeeding!” They extol it from the rooftops, publish my picture in the newspaper as a local hero. I love all the praise – and it works! It totally makes me want to continue, if for no other reason than to be so highly commended at the Well Baby visits.

I know that there are lots of women out there who nurse triplets until they’re three and when I think about them, I feel like a slacker. But nursing an infant is not an easy business, you know, and the decision to stop is more than just a matter of convenience, which should be obvious since it is way more convenient to just pop out a boob than to stumble around in the dark making a bottle while trying to soothe a screaming infant in the middle of the night.

Here’s the skinny; it is three-fold. Thus, a list.

  1. My recent gastrointestinal illness left me so dehydrated that I could not make a single drop of milk for three days. I tried to nurse Colin anyway, followed by a formula bottle, to continue the stimulation so that I could still nurse when I recovered. This led to a sadly chapped, cracked, bleeding, swollen, and excruciatingly painful situation. It’s obviously not Colin’s fault, but that kid has damn near killed me with the sucking.
  2. As Colin is a generous and caring soul, he has shared his candida infection with me. I hadn’t been symptomatic before the chapped, cracked, etc. situation mentioned in item #1, but now: badness.
  3. Colin is currently experiencing his three month growth spurt. When he is awake, he eats every hour and a half. He is taking about 8 bottles of 6 ounces each a day. In other words, nearly a quart and a half a day. That is a whole lot of milk to make.
One of these factors could be overcome. Perhaps even two. But all three at the same time has proved to be too much for me. Colin does well with formula and, as of this morning, I am still not making milk reliably. And being stabbed in the nipple is not what I call a bonding experience. So, we’re done here, I think.

If this has all sounded to you like I’m trying to justify this decision to myself, grant yourself a psychology degree and open a practice. You’re right. Even though I am basing this decision on logic and facts, and I am lucky that I could nurse Colin for this long, and three months is long enough for him to get most, if not all, of the benefits of breast milk, I still feel like I’m abandoning Colin’s health for my own comfort.

I certainly feel bonded to Colin, and I know that children who are not breastfed are just as adorable and smart and well developed as those who are. I’m not sure what it is exactly that is making me hesitate. Maybe I am afraid that people will think that I’m lazy or that I don’t really like my son. Maybe I worry that those people who couldn’t nurse their children will resent me for giving it up so soon and lightly. Psychologists, you may be thinking that I am worried about these things are true, not that others will think them about me. Again, I think you have hit the nail on the head here.

Am I a lazy bum? Am I fool hardy with no appreciation for the overall luck I had with nursing? Am I ill informed as to the future expense and frustration of formula feeding?

All in all, I feel extraordinarily lucky to have been able to nurse Colin for as long as I have. My conservative goal, assuming it worked out at all, was to nurse to three months, and here we are. Though I am (obviously) feeling a little reluctant to let this go, the physical situation cannot be denied and I think that the timing is right. As with everything in motherhood so far, I am taking a leap of faith that this will not irrevocably screw up the poor kid. I think my neuroses will do a fine job of that without any outside help from infant formula.

5 Readers rock!:

marymartha said...

OK, chapped nipples sound ex·cru·ci·at·ingly painful!!!!
Quit now before he has TEEFS!
Sharp little babybitingthesorenipplesteefs!!!!

BTW, in first grade the teacher was explaining mammals to me and told me that all mammals are breast fed. "If it isn't breast fed, its either a snake or a bird" she said.
I went home and asked Mama if I was breast fed, she said "Nope, you were a bottle babby"
The next day I was hysterically crying because I woke up covered in scales (chicken pox) thinking I was turning into a snake because I wasn't breast fed...
AT least Colin will escape becoming a reptile!

Sarah said...

When the badness is gone, go buy yourself a beautiful new bra in celebration of what your breasts have accomplished!!

Baby Mama said...

From someone who was unable to nurse their baby, your journey has only inspired me to try again with the next little one. Send your guilt down the river and replace it with pride.

tracy said...

i think you did great! You lasted waaaaay longer than i did. And never doubt youself, you are a fine momma!

Xavier Emmanuelle said...

You are doing a great job; it's obvious even to someone who only knows you via internet that you care a ton about that little kiddo and that you and Patrick are taking great care of him.

It is not your fault that you're having trouble producing milk, and you've given him 3 months of antibodies and proteins and all that good stuff, so he'll be just fine :) Don't beat yourself up about it, okay?