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As I mentioned in a previous post, I made the decision to stop breastfeeding when Alexander was about seven and a half months old.

 

My original plan – long before Alexander was born, or before I was even pregnant really – had been to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and then to continue breastfeeding until the one-year mark. Of course, the plan was quickly squashed when I had a teeny tiny preemie who was too weak to fill his needs through exclusively breastfeeding and wasn’t stimulating my breasts enough for my milk to come in before he was ten days old. So we had to supplement until my milk came in. And, even then, I had to pump every three hours around the clock for the first five weeks of his life and supplement with pumped milk to ensure that he was getting enough to eat. But after he was ten days old, he ate exclusively breast milk. And after he was five weeks old, he rarely had a bottle of even pumped milk. I hated the pump. I didn’t respond well to it, and had to pump around the clock in between feedings for an entire day or more just to get enough milk to make a full bottle. So it wasn’t worth the time or energy. When he wanted milk, he got the boob.

 

I was always a little worried that he wouldn’t take well to breastfeeding or that he’d learn to prefer bottles since we had to start them right away. But those fears were completely unfounded. That boy LOVED him some boobies.

 

Loved them.

 

Loved them so much that he nursed every three hours around the clock right until he was weaned. Loved them so much that he woke up EVERY.SINGLE.HOUR at night just to hold them and touch them and comfort suck. And that became part of our problem. Combined with his intolerance to dairy and the necessary diet modification that came with it for me, breastfeeding became too much for me. I couldn’t eat any of my favorite foods. (Because a dairy intolerance isn’t like have a glass of wine – the protein stays in your system, and the baby’s, for weeks. So you can’t just cheat and skip a feeding. If you even slip up once, you pay the price for a loooong time.) I comforted myself by eating a lot of crap that I wouldn’t normally allow myself to eat. I was sleep deprived from being up every hour at night. I was (irrationally) resentful of my husband for not being able to help with Alexander overnight, and (again, irrationally) resentful of my poor innocent baby for needing me so much. Things were a mess. Something had to change.

 

But, yet, I continued to breastfeed. It was “THE PLAN”. I was “supposed” to do it for a year. It was the “best” thing for my baby.

 

So for months after I knew that something had to change, and that breastfeeding was probably that “something”, I continued to resentfully whip out my boob every time my child wanted it.  I grew more and more sleep-deprived and more and more resentful. And then one night, while rocking my precious little man, I realized that I wasn’t even enjoying him. He was cuddled in, loving me like I was the most amazing thing in the entire universe, and I wasn’t even enjoying it. I wasn’t rocking him because I loved the snuggle time. I was rocking him because he had just nursed and it was the only way to ensure that he stayed quiet for a few more minutes. And, even sadder still, I realized that most of our days were spent like that – with me gritting my teeth and tolerating the moments I should have been treasuring. That night, I rocked my baby and cried. SOBBED. I mean, I really bawled my eyes out. I’m surprised he slept through it. But I had finally made the decision to stop breastfeeding. I knew I had to do whatever it took to start enjoying my baby. I FINALLY realized that what’s “best” for a child is whatever makes sense for the family. Maybe that’s breastfeeding until the baby is three. Or maybe that’s not breastfeeding at all so the baby can have a happy mommy who actually enjoys him. The next morning, I went out and bought a can of formula.

 

… but I couldn’t bring myself to use it. That can of formula sat on the kitchen counter for almost another week, while I cried every night at the thought of using it the next day, before I finally gave in and made the decision to really switch. Had Alexander not had an intolerance to dairy, I probably would have just supplemented him with formula at night to see if it would help him sleep and continued to breastfeed on demand during the day. But I needed to stop the restricted diet. So my plan was to slowly wean Alexander over to formula over the next month or two, and then add dairy back to my diet when he was fully weaned from the breast. But once we started the weaning process, I just wanted to be done. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I wanted out, And weaning wasn’t an easy process for Alexander. He did fine when he had a few bottles in a row. But if he got the breast for a few consecutive feedings, he fought the bottle something fierce. When he got used to having boobies again, he wanted boobies.  So I decided to stop pretty much cold turkey.

 

I went out and bought cabbage leaves to stuff my bra. I took allergy medication to hopefully help dry up my supply. And I suffered through hugely engorged sore breasts for a while. For the first time in the entire time I had been breastfeeding, I leaked through my clothes at night and woke up covered in my own milk. I had to stuff towels inside my sports bras to soak up all the milk I was leaking at night. I hand expressed minute amounts of milk to relieve pressure when necessary, and nursed once a day for the first few days when things got totally unbearable. Every time I nursed, I cried. I cried because it was possibly the last time I’d ever nurse my baby. I cried because I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision. I cried because my hormones were going crazy at the sudden change in my breastfeeding habits. I cried… and I cried… and I cried.

 

After about a week, I was pretty much all dried up. I could still express milk if I tried. And I occasionally leaked a tiny amount from time to time. But I was done. Alexander was completely weaned to bottles. And the actual last time that I nursed him, I cried for what felt like forever.

 

It still makes me sad that I wasn’t able to breastfeed until Alexander was a year old. I would have loved to have been able to do that for him. But it just wasn’t the right decision for us. I’d never take back my breastfeeding experience – tears and all – because I am so proud that I was able to provide my son with breast milk for as long as I did. Especially given the obstacles we overcame in the beginning. And sometimes I do wonder if quitting was the right decision. Maybe I could have gotten medication to help me deal with my emotions and I would have been able to continue breastfeeding. Maybe I should have just sucked it up and powered through it for the sake of continuing to breastfeed my son. But, deep down, I know that I made the right decision for us. When I’m laughing with my son and playing with him and enjoying snuggles in the rocking chair without an ounce of obligation or resentment, I know I did the right thing. I’ve enjoyed him more in the last five months than I did for the first eight months of his life. Hell, I’ve probably enjoyed him more in the last eight days than I did in the first eight months of his life. I feel terrible even typing that. But it’s true.

 

I wasn’t always so confident and pleased about my decision. About a week after we were completely switched over to formula, my cousin (who formula-fed both her children without even considering breastfeeding) asked me if I found bottles to be more convenient. My answer? HELL NO. Whenever my baby was whiny or unhappy or hungry before, all I had to do was whip out a boob. BOOM. Problem solved. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t hungry, boobies were the answer. He loved them. They fixed it. You can’t just give a kid a bottle of formula every time to comfort them every time they need something. Well, I guess you could, but your kid would be obese. And giving bottles meant WASHING bottles. Every.single.day. Not just one bottle on the occasional time that I decided to pump and give him one. Multiple bottles. Sometimes multiple bottles multiple times a day. And you have to MAKE bottles. You don’t just whip them out. So when the kid wakes in the middle of the night, you actually have to listen to him wailing while you prepare a bottle instead of just filling his mouth with some delicious boob juice. And you have to prepare ahead when you’re going places. You actually have to BRING bottles… and water… and powder. And you have to consider how long you’re going for because you have to bring enough of all those things. With breastfeeding, his food was always just THERE. But, over time, formula-feeding becomes just as easy as breastfeeding. And you hardly even think about the extra work involved.

 

Of course, I don’t think I could have EVER been formula-feeding long enough to get used to the extra money involved. Alexander required a hypoallergenic formula that costed nearly $25 for a can that lasted approximately 3.5 days. DO THE MATH! Over $200 a month just for formula! And that was after he was eating solid foods! I can’t even begin to imagine how much it would have cost at peak consumption!

 

But! Extra work and extra cost aside, I really do feel that switching over to formula was the right decision for our family. We’re all much happier now. And Alexander is no worse for the wear. He’s still as smart and cute as ever. And still weirdly obsessed with my breasts.

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I lost my mom three years ago.

She was diagnosed with stomach cancer during my final year of university, while I was away in another province. She did chemotherapy, but it only prolonged the inevitable. She got to see me graduate from university – the first in my family to accomplish such a feat – which was something she really wanted. But it meant that I spent five of her last eight months away from her. I don’t regret it – she was so proud of me, and I was able to give her something that was incredibly important to her. But I sometimes wish I could have spent more time with her when she was sick.

Especially on nights like tonight – when I’m missing her so much I ache.

I’ve been watching One Tree Hill lately, and tonight I came across the episode where Peyton’s birth mother dies of cancer. It just brings back so many emotions and makes me miss my mom.

So, anyway, I’m just laying here alone – missing my mom. So much it hurts.

I wonder how she’d feel if she knew we were trying to get pregnant. Not that anyone really knows. But I still wonder how she’d feel. And how she’d react when we finally do get pregnant and announce it. She was absolutely amazing with kids. She’s where I got my adoration for them. And she would have made such a perfect grandmother. As much as it kills me that she wasn’t around for my wedding, it’s even worse knowing that she won’t be around to see my child(ren) – that she won’t get to put her hand on my belly and feel her grandbaby kicking or give me advice through pregnancy or be there with me when I have to go through labor or get to hold that precious little newborn. And that she won’t be there to help me through the first few months – to give me advice and come visit.

It tears me up inside.

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