A while ago on a facebook chat with someone I used the abbreviation B.F. long ago in my junior high days that was widely known as boy.friend. ooh la la so-and-so has cute new bf! Enter into mommyhood and the term for a cute new beau quickly changes to a term for feedings ones child.
This isnt a post about breast is best or formula is just as good. This is about me and my experience because its something I want to remember forever.
I breastfed Ryan for 16 months, 17 if count once in October when he was having a melt down in the late afternoon. It was the most wonderful, rewarding 16 months of my life. I love everything about bf. I was lucky in the beginning, he latched on in recovery after my c section. He took to it like a "pig to mud" as the country song says. My milk came flowing in when he was 4 days old. And when I say flowing, I meant it. 5 foot nothin' and DD's. Looking back I should have donated my pumped milk because I had so much I ended up tossing (he would never take it from a bottle) If I have the same go-around next time I will most definitely look into that option.
He cried, a lot. So we nursed, a lot. It was the perfect situation. I was able to stay home and lay around recouping from surgery and have a nursing-cation. Something that le leche suggests if you are having a hard time with bf. It gave us time to bond and get to know each other again. At 3 months he started to teeth (yes freak baby I know) and because of that AND getting more aware of his surroundings he tried to strike. He went a few days barely eating at all and it scared me BAD. I kept telling myself that we would get through this, it had to be a phase! And thank goodness I had such a supportive husband and a great mom cheering me on because we did. He snapped out of it and kept going strong til about 9 months. This time there was no way in hell I was going to start formula now. I made it this long feeding my son for FREE. Not that he would take it anyway- we tried a few times here and there with different samples I had laying around. This strike was the hardest. He was eating table food 3 meals a day, no more mush. He was crawling and walking along the couch. He could wave and say dada. He was turning into a big boy and big boys dont have time to cuddle with their mama's for 15 minutes. After 2 weeks or so he came back around to it. He would only nurse in a dead quiet, pitch black room where daddy was FAR away from and that was fine by me. I loved the mandatory relaxation time. At this point we were down to 2 maybe 3 bf a day.
By month 11 I was feeling the pressure to wean, as seen here. I dont know why I did. I wonder if its the huge goal of all bf moms to make it to a year (sadly its now just 6 months) and I had made it that far, that was supposed to enough. Or was it that other friends of his were switching from bf or formula to cow's milk and I didnt want to be the odd ball out- though it never mattered to them what I did. Either way, for months I tried to cut out feedings, each time he would go into panic mode- it was awful.
I cried, he cried, hubs had no idea what to do with us. Bf wasnt inconvenient anymore, it wasnt painful despite his 16 teeth, it didnt bother me one bit to lay on the couch and have some quiet time with my son. It was the only thing that was JUST OURS. Other people could read stories, do bath time, change diapers. This was just ours and I was/am selfish. I liked that.
Everything about it was comfortable and natural so why mess it all up just because he was walking. I was in no hurry to get him off me and be free. I felt I already was. One of the best compliments came from one of my best girl friends- you just make it look so easy, it looks so natural. It was for us. She struggled with latching, infections, and mastitis, poor mama.
At 14 months old I went away for the weekend and left him home with daddy. I thought for sure this would be the perfect time to dry up and wean him cold turkey. By day 3 I was exploding and leaking everywhere (remember I am like a cow, and still was) day 4 I caved and scooped him up and nursed him and just sobbed. I was not ready to be done and I was going to stop fighting it. Its not like I had to stop in the middle of the mall and find a lounge. This was only at home and only a few times a day and if we were gone for hours on end he survived. I learned that I was not the only mom who continued after the 12 month well baby check. I found comfort in that. Sometimes people will gauk and whisper about the mom nursing her 2 year old in public. I want to give her a high five. You go girl!
Finally around month 16 he seemed to be fine going all day without, even going to bed without nursing, it was just once in the wee hours of the morning and then he would go back to bed for a few hours or so. But I decided to cut that one out and be done. I was nearly dried up and so there wasnt going to be a big painful process. And with that, we were done. I morn the loss of my bf days. I eagerly yearn for the days of cuddling a squishy pink newborn on my chest. I cry sometimes that I stopped when I did. I wish I would have kept going til he was 2. He would have been a happy camper as well. With all his sleep issues and panic/anxiety problems (which all started around the time we stopped bf) I think it would have helped him. I wish I would have given him a little bit longer and there are many days where I feel painfully guilty for taking away the one sure thing that would make him calm and happy. I have offered a few times but he just gets all silly and laughs about it.
It makes me happy that he has great memories of that. I dont mind at all that he might remember bf when hes older. I am so grateful we had the time that we did and that God blessed me with the persistence and patience it took to bf in those early months where I was sleep deprived and had postpartum depression so bad. I am glad I was blessed to push through clogged ducts, and cracked nipples.
My thoughts on motherhood and baby things have changed so much. I have found interest in cloth diapering, attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, co sleeping. They are only little for a short time and women all over the world do those things and have extraordinary lives. I always laugh when I think of the movie Babies. Ryan would have LOVED to grow up in an african village where he didnt wear clothes and got to play in the dirt with goats and bf anywhere and all the time if he wanted. I would have been pretty darn happy too.
That doesnt mean that I will forgo wearing clothes and start taking in stray animals to re create that but I will be making some changes next time around and I am very, very excited. I am looking forward to parenting MY WAY. I had someone ask me if I will do it differently next time "ya know cause has some issues" and insinuating that bf for so long was the reason- that I made him this way. I would say heck yeah, I will probably go longer ;)
I am also not crazy. When my child rearing days are over I will be going in for a mommy make over. I will be lifted and refilled and put back to the way I was before or darn near close to it. That was agreed upon before we got married. Next time I will also get some lovely pictures of me bf so that when I decide to write another crazy long post like this I can break it up with some photos.