This post has nothing to do with running, healthy eating or weight loss. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.
I had rehearsed my answer for days. Over and over again in my head I said the word "no" but all the preparation in the world could not take away the shame I felt when it came "show" time.
At Miles' 6-month well-child appointment, I had to tell the doctor that I was no longer breast feeding.
I tried to place no expectations on myself or Miles when I made the decision to breast feed. I would tell those close to me that if it worked, it worked. If it didn't, it didn't.
Early on, it was clear that though breast feeding might have been "working," Miles and I weren't working well together. He was nursing every hour to 90 minutes during the day, with maybe 2 hours between feedings at night. It was nothing like the every 2 to 3 hours I had read about when I was pregnant. I was exhausted and discouraged, feeling like I could do nothing more than sit on the couch with my top off.
I reached out to the La Leche League and lactation nurses at the hospital where I delivered for help, almost wishing that they would tell me that it would be OK to stop. Instead, I was told everything was OK because Miles was gaining weight. He just might need to eat more because he started out so small.
Days and then weeks passed, and we were still eating at least every 90 minutes. I tried to stay strong, continually assured by lactation nurses, and prayed that there would be a time when we just magically clicked. At Miles' six-week appointment, we still hadn't gotten there. Our pediatrician, whom I adore, turned out to be the person who offered me some help. She told me to start supplementing with formula. I should try offer him a bottle of 2 ounces after he had nursed, three times a day.
I might have said I had no expectations for breast feeding when I was pregnant but I secretly hoped that I'd be a superwoman, nursing him to a year and managing to have a freezer full of milk. I felt like a failure, that my body should be able to provide for my son. I cried making that first bottle, with Miles screaming in my arms, but I had to do it. The well being of Miles and myself was not worth my pride.
Miles got about 6 ounces of formula a day when I was on leave from then on. When I went back to work, I was able to pump enough to keep him in breast milk at daycare but Mark gave him 4 ounces in the afternoon and we "topped" him off with 2 more before bed. About a month or so ago, I was no longer able to keep up and our daycare provider started a half breast milk-half formula regimen.
On the weekends, I tried to "power nurse" as the lactation consultants suggested but it did nothing to boost my supply. It didn't help that Miles became increasingly difficult to nurse. I'm not sure whether it was a growing awareness and desire to observe or just a preference for the bottle but he was just not having it. I had such trouble in Florida that I spent a chunk of the trip in the guest room, by myself. The family thought I was "different" but I was just fighting for a way to get Miles to eat.
But you can only fight so much and so hard.
After a lot of discussion with Mark, soul searching, tears and reaching the 24-week mark, I decided that it was best for my family - the entire family - to wean Miles. I started skipping feedings, pumping less at work and then I stopped entirely on Saturday.
I currently look like I had a botched boob job but Miles seems no worse for the wear, gladly taking a bottle when it's offered. (Now, solids - that's another story.)
I wanted to share this because very few people will tell a mom that it's OK to stop breast feeding - or to not breast feed at all. I was made to feel like I just had to tough it out, that my feelings and well being didn't matter and that I had to do it. Period. But I do matter. And if I realize that, I will be a better mom.