End of the Boob Train

My little boyman is now 6 months old.  Someone please tell me how the frick that happened.

In many ways, I feel like we won the baby lottery.  I got exactly the features I had hoped for (dad’s blue eyes, my strawberry blonde hair, overall cuteness). He’s always been a champion sleeper.  He’s never been picky about bottles, formula, or pacis.  Most of all, I am amazed at how happy his default disposition is.  He’s usually making eye contact, smiling, cooing, laughing, but what amazes me the most is that even when he’s crying or whining or just generally upset, we can usually still make him smile or laugh, even if it’s just for a moment.  He wants to be happy even when he’s so hungry or tired that he’s cranky.  I love this guy and he amazes me every day.

That said, our hardest struggle by far has been breastfeeding.

Dylan didn’t latch with any consistency until day 8, and up until then he would only latch in front of the lactation consultant.  She manhandled my boob and smashed Dylan’s face into it, and for some reason it worked…but the second we got home and I tried the same rough technique, he’d push and struggle and kick and scream at my boob for 20 minutes until I was crying and gave up.

My milk came in rather late, and even then I wasn’t making very much.  All this created a yucky feedback loop/catch 22: Dylan wasn’t latching, and so my production wouldn’t increase, but my production was already late and low, and so Dylan didn’t want to latch cuz he knew he wouldn’t get much.  Talk about frustrating.

I did everything I could to increase my supply and nothing helped very much.  Nevertheless, I kept at it and Dylan and I slowly worked our way into a routine that worked for us that included breastfeeding, pumping, and formula.

After 6 months of hard work, I think we’re at the end of breastfeeding.  My supply recently dipped even more, and lately Dylan’s been getting frustrated.  The experience isn’t fun or cuddly anymore and I have done all I could to get him this far.

I’m pretty sad about stopping.  Before giving birth, I had assumed that I’d be breastfeeding as long as I was at home with Dylan during the day.  I’m currently fighting guilt and telling it to take a hike.  I’m frustrated with my body, for not doing what I expected or wanted.

There’s a part of me that feels some relief about the decision to stop.  Breastfeeding and pumping has been hard work and very time consuming, and I am looking forward to daily life being that much simpler.  But, I’m gonna miss the cuddles, the oxytocin rush, and the feeling of motherly pride that came with it.

I keep reminding myself that Dylan’s gonna be just fine.  Like I said above – he’s crazy happy.  He’s such a good kid.  We also just started solids and so far there isn’t a food he hasn’t not liked – that’s my boy.

And…now that I think about it, I’m gonna be just fine, too.  Just like everything else, we’re getting through this together, my little boy and I.

Was breastfeeding hard for you, too?  I’d love to hear your stories.  Thanks for reading!

24 responses

  1. Just found your blog through Dawn at Tales from The Motherhood. I didn’t have the same breastfeeding experience as you, but then again no one ever does. Breastfeeding, like motherhood, is unique. Yes mothering can look a lot a like, but the fact is, at the end of the day, we have to make our choices decisions based on what is best for us and our families, not on what others think of our choices.

    I have seen a lot of mothers suffer from guilt from choices they made because of how they thought others would view them. We all do the best we can and it is not up to anyone else to define motherhood or breastfeeding success for you.

    Breastfeeding is just one of many tools in your mothering tool box that I assume you will use over the years you raise your cute little guy. I don’t mean to belittle your sorrow but in the long run breastfeeding is not nearly as important as being there for our kids in ways that teaches them how to love, connect and find joy.

    Good luck on you next phase!

  2. We all do our best, M and you’ve done your best. What I really want to say is this: do not be disappointed in your body; never chastise or feel guilty. That body survived cancer; that body body danced at your wedding and fell in love, and that body made that gorgeous, perfect baby. If it can’t make enough milk, or do it just the “right way,” well… it’s done a lot of other perfect things! Your body is amazing and your baby is fine, healthy and will thrive because you love him so much. That, my friend is all that really matters.

    *please know that I am not in any way trying to devalue your disappointment. I know it is a difficult thing when we want certain things as mothers, that don’t work out… I am only sending encouragement and love, to a very good mother. xo

    • Thanks. You know, I really struggle with this in particular. Because I’ve often felt that my body betrayed me by housing my cancer and allowing it to grow. I can also see that my body gave me warning signs and told me something was wrong, so it’s definitely tough. And I do know that we’ll be fine. More than fine. All the feelings at the same time.
      Thanks for reading!

      • I can only imagine that struggle, M. Really. I struggle with some fairly serious chronic health issues and understand that sense of betrayal, and the struggle with not feeling angry or let down… but, ultimately, I am grateful as well. I am really working on hope, and not defining myself by these health standards. It’s a challenge and I would never minimize that. Just trying to move forward from a place of hope.

  3. My breastfeeding journey mirrors yours. I went through it with both of my kids. What counts is that you put in your best effort. You worked at it for months. There is great relief in stopping. You’ll be able to enjoy Dylan even more during feeding time and otherwise. I commend you for doing your damnedest!

  4. I had an awful supply with both girls. Sixteen, yes SIXTEEN fenugreek pills a day coupled with pumping after every feed didn’t make a bit of difference. When I went back to work with Mattie I was pumping 1 oz a day, at which point, I couldn’t justify it. This time around we both had a gnarly case of thrush to accompany a craptastic supply. This time I wanted some validation that I was doing all I could, and a visit to the LC earned me an “insufficient glandular tissue” diagnosis. I won’t forget what she said to me though…she said, just think, all the time you are spending worrying and trying to increase your supply, you could just be spending with your baby. That time is way more valuable than breastmilk. She was so right!

    Do I still envy my friends with a freezer full of extra milk? Absolutely. Am I going to feel guilty that my body just flat out doesn’t make the milk to support a whole other life? Nope, I’m not. You are definitely not alone.

  5. You know what’s awesome? That you live now and not 100 years ago. Because you can totally give babysaurus a safe, nutritious food source even if your boobs don’t cooperate. You’re a great mom, tell the guilt complex to stuff it.

    • This thought has crossed my mind a lot – I would have had to employ a wet nurse. Hilarious that you say ‘babysaurus’ cuz he just got new dino jammies with dino claws for feet!! Rawr!
      And seriously, thanks for your awesome comment.

  6. I think you may have gathered from some of my posts on nipple trauma that bfing was hard for me lol!! I think it is important to do what works for you and your baby. It is normal for supply to dip once baby starts solids which I’m assuming at six months may have happened for you. With my first I basically stopped nursing except for one session per day in the morning. He did that until he was two and then weaned. It was more relaxed, nurturing time for us I think. I think people get so trapped into thinking bfing had to be all or nothing and that makes it harder. It is also hard when our bf journey doesn’t meet our expectations. I hope whatever you decide you are at peace knowing you are a wonderful mom and your baby is happy and healthy and obviously fed with love regardless of how it is delivered. Xoxoxo.

  7. I wasn’t the best with breastfeeding, I’ve blogged about that as I’ve done what I could to find peace with it. I didn’t produce enough for as long as I wanted, but found it hard to actually pack that pump away… even when I was only getting an ounce after 30 minutes of pumping… that maternal guilt that is born with our children, and never goes away :). You did great for 6 months, longer than me. You are a great mom!!

    • Thank you SO MUCH for your comment! For the past several weeks I have been pumping at that same rate and it feels so validating to hear that you did the same. We’re both awesome moms because we both just want to do as much as we can for our kids!

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