It was a tough decision, but I decided to stop breastfeeding.
After more than 2 weeks struggling to get Hadley to take a bottle, and more than 9 weeks wondering why my baby was fussy 24/7, had painful gas and at least a dozen green, watery stools every day, I made the choice to stop.
Like every mother out there, I want the best for my child, and after lots of tearful hours second-guessing my supply, wondering if I was eating things that were upsetting her system and worrying WHEN my baby would start to act like the happy babies I see all over, I realized that it was better for both of us to move onto to formula.
And do you know what?
It was the best decision I've ever made.
I believe that only you know what is best for your child, and having gone through this, I will never criticize another mother out there for the choices that they make because this is seriously the hardest job on the planet.
So here's how we did it (because I had the toughest time finding weaning tips on the internet).
I got advice from my mom and decided to go cold turkey so Hadley wouldn't have any other choice. I think that going back and forth between trying the bottle and nursing was hurting our chances of her ultimately taking the bottle. I also decided that we'd have better odds if I didn't switch back and forth between formula and breast milk.
On Thursday morning, Hadley woke up at 6am and I gave her the last breast feeding. It was bittersweet, but I wasn't upset like I thought I would be. I knew I had a tough day ahead of me.
She ate, went back to sleep and then woke again at 9am. I fixed a bottle and she flipped out as usual. I put the bottle down and consoled her. When she was calm, I tried the bottle again. We did this cycle for 5 hours (fixing new bottles as needed). Eventually, she stopped fighting, gulped down 2 oz and went to sleep.
I was so happy I wanted to cry.
When it was time for her to eat again, she fought the bottle for 30 minutes and then drank 4 oz.
The next feeding, she only fought for 15 minutes, and by that evening, she was taking 5 oz bottles like it was her job.
And that night -- she went down without a fight and slept for 10 hours straight!
She's NEVER done that!
You see, every evening at around 6pm, we usually start this period of her fussing and wanting to nurse for 5-6 hrs straight. I would seriously watch the clock all day, every day dreading the sun setting because it meant another torturous night that would end in me and Hadley crying until we fell asleep.
It was so depressing that I can't even begin to describe the black hole that I've been living in for the past 9 weeks.
When I went to have my Mirena put in last week, the doctor asked how I was doing and I was so stressed out because I had to leave the baby home alone with Sean and she still wasn't taking a bottle that I had a total meltdown and cried like an idiot about how hard everything has been. My OB actually asked me if I ever thought about hurting myself or Hadley. This was not a high point in my life.
But now I see a light at the end of the tunnel.
I don't know if it was coincidence that these terrible episodes ended on the day I stopped breastfeeding, but it seems unlikely. I honestly think that my milk was upsetting her stomach and by the end of the day, my supply was so low that she had to nurse for such long periods to get just enough to not go to bed starving.
Now, Hadley is happy and smiling all day. She takes naps -- naps during the day, people! She goes to bed at a decent hour and sleeps all night. I finally feel like she's getting what she needs to be a happy, healthy baby and I'm finally a present, nurturing mother who doesn't spend the day worrying and being depressed.
As for drying up my milk, I started by pumping just enough to be comfortable after every other formula feeding that I gave Hadley. I also wore two of the tightest sports bras I own layered on top of one another, day and night. I did that for two days, then cut back to pumping just in the morning when I woke up and then right before bed. Now I'm not pumping at all. It's been uncomfortable, but not miserable and my milk is almost gone.
I'm putting this all out there because I see post after post about the benefits of breastfeeding, and I agree that those are important. However, it's also important for moms out there to know that you have to make choices -- sometimes hard choices -- in order to be the best parent to your child, and there's nothing wrong with that.
And the best part of all of this is, other people can help now! I can take long showers and go shopping for more than 30 minutes because others can feed her too! It's a liberating feeling, people. My whole family is fighting over who gets to feed the baby next and I'm like, "Everyone gets a turn! I'll be at Target!"
I have been smiling like an idiot for days now and Sean is all, "I have my wife back again! Not this sad zombie wandering around in milk-stained nursing tops with hair that hasn't been washed in 3 days and unshaven legs!"
Well, he didn't really say that, but we all know he was thinking it.
So three cheers for happy mom and happy baby!
greek salad with lemon and oregano
1 hour ago