Saying Goodbye to Breastfeeding
The emotional roller coaster of a mom as she closes her breastfeeding cycle.
As my second son’s birthday approaches, my experience with breastfeeding also starts to come to an end. Seems arbitrary and in a way, it is. I had made a conscious commitment with both my children to do everything in my power to breastfeed them for a year. I decided I was going to put my fears aside and go through any pain, frustration and inconvenience it would cause.
I was afraid, since my mother’s breastfeeding experience was terrible at the time and I certainly didn’t want to go through the pain, bleeding, infections and frustration she went through. But once I got pregnant for the first time, two things happened to me. First, motherhood kicked in and with it, all the determination to do the best for my child. Second, I received outpouring support from friends and family who were firm supporters of breastfeeding and were able to overcome any and all difficulties in their time, to make it work. They encouraged me, taught me and reassured me before and after the baby was born.
So, armed with extensive information, breastfeeding gadgets and a book, I put Nico on the breast for the first time, as soon as he was born. See, I wanted to do it right. And it seemed so easy and natural…..for like 10 seconds. I spent the following 3 weeks comparing his latching with the pictures of my book while experiencing the most exquisite pain I had ever experienced. Not understanding why, if he was latching just like in the pictures, it was hurting so much. It got to the point where I hated and dreaded feeding him. I would cry, curse and feel so very unhappy and frustrated, and guilty of transmitting all those negative emotions to him. It did not make any sense. And I was ready to quit.
Since I felt like a failure, I didn’t even bother sharing my problems with almost anyone. But I couldn’t hide it from my husband, who at that point was just as convinced that breastfeeding was the ONLY option and by no means he was going to let me quit. So, I finally agreed to what he had suggested doing all along: hiring a lactation consultant.
BEST DECISION EVER! I couldn’t stress this enough: if you are planning on breastfeeding, GET A LACTATION CONSULTANT. FROM DAY ONE.
Almost every hospital will have a lactation consultant available for new moms during that immediate postpartum period. Most insurances will also cover an outpatient lactation consultant, whether at the hospital in group visits, or individually, in the hospital or at home.
We discovered that I was positioning my baby wrong. And from doing that, the angle at which he was latching on was such, that the nipple would be constantly traumatized. The problems were subtle and difficult to identify by an inexperienced person (me), but my lactation consultant was able to find the issues and help me fix them. I had to spend a couple of weeks healing, before I could put him to the breast again and during that time, I had to pump around the clock, first, to be able to continue exclusively breastfeeding him and second, to keep up the production, which inevitably decreases without the actual sucking. But I did all that. And from then on, it was like a breeze. I went on to breastfeeding him for a whole year.
The second time around was completely different. I had enough hands-on experience that I did not feel intimidated with the task. I also knew that all babies are different and this time I was lucky to have a doula and lactation consultant from day 1 and at home, who also provided with valuable assistance and encouragement until I got the hang of it. It was easier, faster and zero frustrating. And I have loved every second of it.
Maybe you are wondering why would I stop then? As I said before, the decision is arbitrary. To be able to breastfeed and work a full-time job, there are a certain amount of logistics involved. And sadly, in my case, as he approaches his first birthday, my production decreased significantly as well. I don’t know if it is a mental thing. I don’t know if my idea of stopping at 1 year just really made it happen. But to increase the production I would have to pump more. And I am truly tired of pumping.
I was putting him to bed today and there we were, sitting in his dark, cozy nursery, on the rocking chair, in silence. He was holding my breast and drinking, so focused and calm… when he suddenly glanced at me, boob in mouth and smiled.
I will miss breastfeeding terribly. Hopefully, it would last a few more weeks. I hope the transition is a seamless one for the baby. And I’m grateful I did it.