We are on the cusp of ending our time breastfeeding. It’s hard for me to even think about-so, I’ve been choosing not to. There are days when I think I’m ready and then moments when I get choked up even thinking about it. The thing is, we began to wean a little while ago and are now only nursing in the mornings. Yet, thinking about it being over, completely over, for good, is really, really hard.
If you we’re to tell me almost eleven months ago that my journey with breastfeeding would have taken the path it took, I would have never believed you. See, I was the one reading all the books, taking the classes and believing and wanting more than anything else to have this amazing experience breastfeeding. I never even doubted that it would happen, which now looking back seems odd because things weren’t exactly normal when it came to my breasts during pregnancy. (Now would be a good time to stop reading if you 1. Don’t want to hear about breasts/breastfeeding. 2. Had the perfect breastfeeding experience (in which I salute and congratulate you because no matter how you do it, it’s hard).
I haven’t talked about my struggles in detail that much because it was a really emotional experience for me and I could just about digest/understand it myself (I was also sleep walking the first month, which made it harder). When I got pregnant, one of the perks I’d heard about was getting a visit from the “boob fairy”-seriously, people call it that! But, that never happened with me, at least not the way it was described. I didn’t think much of it as I’ve always been on the smaller chested side. I figured that the big changes would happen after I gave birth and my milk came in. Well, after my long labor and delivery (you can read my birth story here), Ellery had a really hard time latching and just didn’t want to nurse. (There are so many things I would do differently the next time but I just didn’t know). When we got home our amazing doula called a lactation consultant to come over and after several hours, not only did she discover Ellery had a severe tongue tie but she told me she thought I had IGT-or insufficient glandular tissue caused by breast hypnoplasia. I had no idea what it was but the biggest thing I learned was that unless I wanted to go on medication plus supplements-I wouldn’t even come close to producing enough milk for Ellery. But, I wanted to try, so with the lactation consultant, a lactation doctor and the support of Mach, I took tons of supplements, power pumped after each feeding and told myself that I would take it day by day and if any of it got too much I would stop.
We saw a specialist for the tongue tie and got it snipped and Ellery and I persevered. I was never able to produce enough and as the months passed, I would add more and more formula to her bottles to supplement but that’s when nursing her became so much more about our time together and bonding then about the amount of milk I was able to give her. It was up until about her 10th month that I realized she was ready to wean as she was not latching for longer than a minute or two. I suspect it was because my supply had dwindled to pretty much nothing. I think she and I are both hanging on to the routine more than the anything at this point as we have far surpassed anything I could have imagined. It’s a perfect way to describe her personality-there were so many challenges presented to us and her with breastfeeding and yet she remained so patient with me at each step just waiting for me to take the lead and following right along-whether it was new bottles, new supplements, waiting for me to pump, etc…and she turned out to be the best little breast feeder!
I don’t wish this condition on anyone but each person has their own struggles (either during pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc…) and it just takes time and patience to figure it all out.
So, as we close this chapter of our journey-we definitely begin a new one as we explore all our new fun foods together. I look forward to sharing with her my passion for healthy cooking and eating and if/when we choose to have a second baby, I have a lot more knowledge about what to expect with breastfeeding!