I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I’ll be honest, mainly because it’s free and I never pass up a deal. Eventually, as I learned more about it, I came to appreciate the health benefits, the bond and the convenience.
While pregnant, I prepared as best as I could. I registered for and purchased all of the suggested supplies, set up my breastfeeding station in the living room and tried to plan out how I would manage pumping when I returned to work. It felt like a lot of preparation and I had certainly heard many moms say breastfeeding was hard, but I had never heard one say it wasn’t worth it.
When my son was born we didn’t have an easy start. Breastfeeding was much harder than I imagined. I would ask myself, “how could something so ‘natural’ be so difficult?” I was jealous of everyone with a seemingly easier journey. I wanted the soft moments with my son gazing into my eyes. But my moments involved cringing, ice packs, creams, and doubt.
Eventually it got better. Much better. But it was not without a lot of work on my part. I’m pretty sure I tried every tip that existed until we figured it out.
And now, it’s time to stop.
I remember praying that we would make it to one month, and now we’ve made it over a year. At 13 months we are in the process of weaning.
So why am I stopping? The defensive part of me wants to assume judgment comes with this question and give a snarky “it’s not anyone’s business” response. But if my short stint in motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that we HAVE to be more honest about our journeys. About the tears, the fears, the pains and the struggles. That is where our strongest bonds as mothers come from.
My truth is that I don’t want to pump anymore. Before the pandemic, I worked outside of the house full-time and my son went to daycare. I would faithfully pump three times during my workday, every single day. I never missed a pump. I felt like it was my duty to do my part, because it’s his FOOD. But I hate pumping. Shout out to the exclusive pumpers, because that is absolutely breastfeeding too.
After months of being home together during this pandemic, my son is back at daycare and I am frequently working out of the house again. I tried to keep up with a pumping schedule at first, but I really don’t want to pump anymore. Simple as that. I’m forcing myself not to feel the need to justify my choice. I’m proud of our journey and now I am ready for this chapter to close.
And so our weaning journey has begun.
I know that breastfeeding is supply and demand so I tried to slowly reduce the “demand” one feed or pump at a time. Since my son was 6 months old, I have been pumping before I went to bed for relief. I eliminated that first. Next I slowly began to cut one feed at a time and replaced it with pumped milk. I mixed whole milk (my pediatrician’s recommendation/preference) with breast milk starting at higher ratios and slowly added more and more whole milk over time.
I cut one feed each week, leaving his most beloved feed, the morning feed, for last. He has done 10x better than I could have expected. I am a WORRIER and I have spent more time anticipating this being a struggle than us actually having any struggles.
To my son as we close this chapter.
We made it. I’m so proud of us. Whew, what a journey it has been. What got me through those tough moments in the beginning was remembering that neither of us had done this before and that we were learning together. There is no one else I would rather tackle a new task with.
Together we have breastfed through: pain, cracked nipples, latch issues, bleeding nipples, prescription creams, mastitis, thrush, pumping, painful engorgement, clogged ducts, nipple shields, nipple confusion, over supply, lactation appointments, cluster feeding, weighted feeds and support groups.
And tears. So many tears.
But we did it together. We persisted and we persevered. Remember when we didn’t think we would make it a week… a month… and we made it over a year!!
I’m so proud of your transition to whole milk. You’ve done so well. Even after testing 9 different cups, we have finally found a cup you love. I still have some breastmilk frozen for you. So you’ll continue to get your favorite treat for a little longer.
I’ll certainly miss our quiet moments together, but I’m so excited for what challenge motherhood has for me next.
Son, if we can do this, what can’t we do?
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!