The End of Breastfeeding

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Charlie barely ate while he was sick with the H1N1 Virus, it made me crazy. I could get in maybe two breastfeedings a day, and solids were absolutely not an option, he just wasn't having it. He refused everything. Towards the end of the his flu, and the beginning of his pneumonia, his thirst returned x2, but in a much different way. Mid gulp, he'd turn his head away, letting milk spray him all over his face and body, soaking the couch and floor, whatever was within a few feet of me, and he'd just be done. I have whats called an overactive letdown (moms I'm sure some of you have experienced that, and maybe just laughed a little because you know exactly what I'm talking about). Basically what that means, for anybody that is new to breastfeeding terms (and I hope none of your are uncomfortable while reading this, I assume if you are, you'll just exit the page and come back another day?) is that my milk shoots out in the same strength of water blasting out of a pressure washer. No, really. Its insane.

I wanted to breastfeed Eleanore. I tried to, but my breast was easily four times larger than her tiny little head, and there were no nurses skilled in helping a mother with that large of a bust. I gave up with Eleanore all too easily, and made the decision to pump for her. I hooked myself up to my medela for 3 hours a day, for 6 months. After 6 months, when my chest was equal the size of an entire person, I threw in the towel and switched her to formula. I had done all that I could do, and with my next baby, I would try harder...

So anyways, he would turn his head mid feeding, start talking and laughing (goo goo gah gah type stuff), get down, and go play. "Seriously?" I'd say out loud, still holding my boob in one hand, sitting in a puddle of my own milk. "Just like that, you're done?". This happened a few times, the breast milk showers and ADD baby, so I chalked it up to "hes still not feeling well". It went from sometimes, to always. By the time he was completely recovered from his pneumonia, he was biting me. The first time he bit me (and man he bites hard), I firmly told him no, gave him a little pat on the cheek to enforce it (similar to that of a Mama cat correcting her kitten), and then watched my baby explode into a fit of tears and screams. "Did Mommy just yell at me?!", I could see his glossy eyes ask.

I sure as hell did. That hurt!

Feedings from then on got shorter, and farther apart. He used to wake up to eat twice a night (something that all the doctors scold us about), and as often as he could during the day. One night, he woke up at his usual time, but this time it wasn't to eat, it was to curse his top tooth that was causing the roof of his mouth to throb. "Poor baby. Come here, let Mommy sooth you with the breast".

He didn't want it.

"What? No, come here. Lets eat. Its eating time. You always eat right now, so lets eat. I'm awake, you're awake, you're crying, you're thirsty, I'm full of milk... it all works out. Lets eat".

He didn't want it.

"WHAT?! Mommy loves you! Please take my milk! I made it specially for you. Its right here. Lots of it. All for you. Eat baby, eat"!


It took hours to soothe him back to sleep. The same thing happened the next night, only, instead of taking my milk, he went downstairs and ate two bowls of rice cereal. Can you imagine the sinking ship that went down inside of my heart? I was devastated. He had never, ever ever, taken solid food over my breast. Ever. The next night, same deal.

Meanwhile, I started pumping milk (dusted off the ol' Medela from Eleanore's baby days). Charlie had never had a bottle (maybe three or four times total), and had never touched a sippy. I could tell he was getting dehydrated, having gone from drinking nearly a gallon a day to absolutely zilch. We worked on getting him used to a Nuby cup, increased his intake of solids (his stomach must have quadrupled in size), and after 6 days of my son refusing my breast, I've accepted the fact that he is done breastfeeding.

The funny thing is, because I'm really trying to see the bright side of things right now, is that a week or so ago, I took my very first breastfeeding picture. I had always wanted a special photo of the bond that Charlie and I shared (and until you breastfeed your child, you could never possibly understand how strong this bond truly is, I learned that in the first few days after he was born). I had brought the camera into the bedroom, and one night while he dozed off in my lap, drinking peacefully, I snapped a picture. A perfect picture. A picture that would capture every emotion that I had felt during the past 10 months of our 3am feedings.

Because I'm pretty sure that they show images that are more graphic than this one, on television, during daytime hours, I feel that I can safely post it here. By safely, I mean- I've decided that I want to share this very intimate and personal picture with you, because it means so much to me.

So thats that. The End of Breastfeeding.


Kyla Roma November 4, 2009 at 9:50 AM  

Aw! This is such a sweet, personal post- I hope you're doing alright, this sounds really rough! But it also like he's a stubborn little guy who has decided what's best for him. =)

Maggie November 4, 2009 at 9:58 AM  

Thanks for sharing. Remember he still needs you in so many ways, and loves you like a guy can only love his mommy.

Amy November 4, 2009 at 10:01 AM  

I was totally fine reading this post until I saw the picture.

Now I'm crying.

That's a beautifulbeautifulbeautiful picture, Tia.

I'm sorry it didn't end how you imagined it, Tia. That's hard. I nursed both Liam and Simon. Liam weaned himself (we were down to only once a day at that point), but it was a mama-lead weaning for Simon (I was newly pregnant and bleeding and had NO milk left). Having Liam wean himself was much harder one me, while having to wean Simon was much harder ON HIM.

But he's still taking BM from a sippy? That's still great. I have ALL THE RESPECT IN THE WORLD for mamas who pump. It's a huge commitment.

Also, I can totally relate to the overactive letdown. I joke that I could knock off your hat from across the room. Funny thing is that you are much more, ahem, well-endowed than me. My sister and I are both barely B's normally but could fill a sink... hand expressing!

Hugs to you and Charlie.

ElegantSnobbery November 4, 2009 at 10:17 AM  

I didn't nurse Gracie for even a minute, but Annelie nursed for 11 months... she's 2.5 now, and I still miss it!! There really is something special about the bond between mom and nursing baby!

NessaGurl November 4, 2009 at 10:31 AM  

I feel your pain.. little Charlotte is on her way out too :( I breastfed Sophia for 11.5 months until I had to go back to work... I really really dislike pumping (maybe if I had a electric pump it would have made a difference)... so I congratulate you for pumping.

I am down to one maybe two feedings a day and I struggle for her to keep quiet enough to get a full feeding.

It is really a tough and sad moment when you are done breastfeeding.. the others are right though.. he does need you in so many ways. I'm so glad you captured that wonderful moment of him breastfeeding, you will have that to cherish for years and years to come. It truly is a beautiful picture.

Give your little man extra huggles and snuggles.

Philomena Bohemian November 4, 2009 at 11:56 AM  

wow, that is one of the most beautiful pictures I've ever seen. Thank you for sharing~

Giggly November 4, 2009 at 1:16 PM  

Awwwww. At least you got a photo. :) I always wanted one and never got around to it fast enough. My babies weaned on their own too. I was so heart broken. I always wanted to breast feed for at least a year. They only made it 8 months. I pumped as long as I could after that, and even grew attached to the I got a photo of that. :)

The photo is so precious, thank you for sharing.

soul_searching_mama November 4, 2009 at 2:34 PM  

That was a beautiful post & picture. Thank you for sharing. :)

Johanna November 4, 2009 at 2:52 PM  

a beautiful post. I can feel your sadness and can imagine that it is hard to say goodbye to that chapter of your babe's development. I can only imagine that I'll feel the same way when my little one decides that he is done. Thanks for sharing you story and what a lovely picture.

Mitzie November 4, 2009 at 3:18 PM  

Awww the picture is amaazing! My husband thought I was nuts when I told him I needed a picture of my Charlie nursing. Your pic captures the moment PERFECTLY.

Anonymous,  November 4, 2009 at 4:22 PM  

Oh honey that post was beautiful and the photo is just precious. I love breastfeeding so much and I totally get the whole bonding thing. I plan on letting Peanut decide when to wean. I know I'll miss the nighttime nursing the most. I love snuggling her and watching her drift off to sleep while at my breast. Anyway, I hope that your boobs are doing okay. I've heard that it can be pretty painful when you first stop nursing.

Adrienne November 4, 2009 at 8:39 PM  

That's a really beautiful picture Tia, thanks for sharing it with us.

Peldyn November 4, 2009 at 10:56 PM  

Wonderful post. Brings back memories of breast feeding my girls. I too had a let down that caused milk to spurt through my top like little jets! Very embarrassing if I was not at home.

Christopher And Tia November 5, 2009 at 8:20 AM  

Thank you everyone for your wonderful supportive comments. I was a little nervous about posting something so personal, and all of the hugs really made me feel good. Its still hard, accepting that hes finished nursing, but hearing the stories of how your little ones left the breast has been very helpful.

AlyGatr November 5, 2009 at 9:37 AM  

Thank you for sharing this. I know it is very hard to share something so personal.

I nursed both of mine and to be honest, I found it exhausting, though I've never regretted doing it. With Amelia, I was nursing while she was at home and pumping during the day when I was at work and sending that to daycare with her. I spent all of my breaks and lunches pumping and towards the end I was just tired and frustrated. With Merrick, I was trying to juggle being a mom of two and trying to keep up with both of them. I weaned them both at 6 months and, I have to admit (even if it makes me a bad mom), I was relieved to be done. The close, one on one interactions I had with them while they nursed have been replaced with close one on one time just cuddling or sitting quietly with each of them at we have new kinds of moments together that are just as sweet.

joyfully gray November 6, 2009 at 10:52 AM  

Oh dear. I am not sure how the end of breastfeeding will go for us - the thought of saying good bye to it makes me sad, but I know that it will someday come for us as well. I hope you are doing well, I know that it must be an emotional time for you. Charlie is such a strong willed little man.

Oh and the over active let down - I hear you!!!! Ah. Bless you.

You're a wonderful mamma. I'm glad to know you :) Sorry I've not been around much this week ... things have been crazy.

Desiree Fawn November 6, 2009 at 9:48 PM  

Oh wow, this is SUCH a beautiful photo.
I think that I will have a very hard time when G decides she's done with the booby -- though at the rate we're going I'm not sure that will be for a while. I will miss it.

Brandy L November 9, 2009 at 8:12 PM  

What a great photo! I'm sure it was a hard decision to stop the breastfeeding. It's a bond only a mom and a baby can share. I never had the chance to experience that as my daughter wanted nothing to do with me. So i had to do formula. At least you have the pictures as a reminder of the time you shared together.

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