Thursday, March 4, 2010

The End of Nursing

Really I should have called this entry the end of pumping. Actual nursing ended a few weeks ago and had a bumpy ride ever since just before Christmas. About a week before Christmas Ben started refusing to nurse. And by refuse I mean biting, hitting, and sometimes crying if I offered him a boob, except for during the wee hours of the night. All day long I’d pump and he’d drink from bottles, but late at night it was just as it had always been, the two of us in his dark room snuggled up and connected in a way that I loved. Then in mid-January one Saturday afternoon he seemed to be going for the boob, so I offered it and all of sudden we were back to nursing all the time (though of course he was getting bottles and I was pumping during the workday). That lasted for a few weeks and then in early February he just stopped nursing all together. He didn’t bite or cry, but just had no interest at all in nursing. So I went back to the pump full-time and for a couple of weeks I was able to pump enough that we only had to supplement with a little formula. But it got harder and harder for me to keep up with the pumping and so last night was my last pumping session. Today the pump has been silent and my boobs have stayed in my bra.

I’m sad.

I’ll never nurse a baby again. And even though Ben hasn’t been interested AT ALL, at least while I was pumping I could keep up the illusion that just maybe we weren’t done. But as I used the pump less often over the past couple of weeks my supply plunged dramatically. I think between the inconsistent pumping and the complete absence of any actual nursing, my body said enough is enough. The past 5 to 7 days I’ve hardly managed to get any milk out at all. It was one thing to keep up the pumping while I was home with a sick Ben last week and over the weekend, but to keep lugging the pump back and forth to work and have to pump in my office when I barely get any milk out just seems ridiculous. So, last night was my last pump. After about 15 minutes I’d gotten maybe a drop or two and I just decided I need to be done. But I’m working at home today and I keep seeing all the breast pump paraphernalia in the kitchen and the pump is still in there and it just makes me sad. I waited for so long wanting so much to have a successful pregnancy and to have another baby and to hopefully nurse. And I did and it was not wonderful all the time, because this time around I spent the summer outside or out and about a lot because this time around I had a 6 ½ year old too. There were times out in public in the hot summer weather when nursing wasn’t so fun, but overall I was happy that it was never really too difficult and then once my daughter went back to school and I was still at home for 2 months it was just great. And it was always wonderful in the evenings. Even in the middle of the night when I was up for the 2nd or 3rd time and exhausted, it was so great that I could offer him what he wanted, something that made him calm and happy.

I know I’m lucky it worked as well as it did for as long as it did, and even the pediatrician told me at Ben’s 9 month check up that anything more was gravy, but still I just wish it had lasted a little longer. I really wanted to nurse for a year and even once he quit, as much as I complained about the pump, I really hoped I could pump at least ½ his “milk” intake until a year. We’ve been supplementing pretty heavily the past 2 weeks and now he’ll be strictly a formula baby. Right now there’s a bottle in the fridge with not quite 3 oz of breast milk. It’ll be the last breast milk I’ll ever pump and the last breast milk Ben will ever drink. Every time I open the refrigerator and see it sitting on the shelf tears well up in my eyes. In fact, it’s took a lot of self control while I drafted this post not to go hook up to the pump, but I know it’s time. He’s fine with it, so I guess I should be. Partly I feel a little sad that I can’t keep giving him the same sustenance that I was able to give to his sister for a full year. But really it’s the milestone that it represents. My baby won’t be a baby much longer. He turns 1 in less than 2 months, he’s started to cruise along the furniture and eat table food, before long he’ll be a toddler not a baby. He’s my second and last baby and after every thing we went through to have our kids and to make sure they are healthy, I’m grateful. BUT, I always wanted more children and knowing that I’ll never be a mom to a baby again makes me so sad. And on a more intimate level I will simply miss that special bond and that time that was just ours.


LJ said...

I was so torn about V turning 1. He's so much more alive now than even a month ago. I see the babies of others and already struggle to remember those first few months. The passage of time is both beautiful and cruel...

Penny said...

It is SO hard to stop nursing. I stopped nursing my second and last baby too, not out of my wishes but his, and I spent about a week moping around the house getting all teary-eyed, thinking all I have left to look forward to is my children leaving me and then DEATH.

And the breastfeeding for me was not as great either. Aiden was never a great nurser, always biting and pinching and pursing his lips. And still, I felt the sadness. I think some of it is hormonal- your hormones are shifting again of course. I even started thinking about a 3rd baby, but then, the whole planning for it, contacting the fertility seemed very very wrong. Can't do that again.

I hope you can revel in the happy parts of not nursing again- no more pump! No more biting and slapping and timing yourself so your boobs don't explode! No more nursing bras, just pretty ones, and perhaps some weight loss too if you're like me and inclined to hold onto that pregnancy fat as long as you are nursing.

Sorry it ended too soon for you though.