When I made the decision to breastfeed my child, I did it because I knew that “breast is best” but I thought I would dislike it… possibly even hate it. And yes, the early days were kind of painful and there are annoyances that come with it (messy at times, isolating, puts a lot of pressure solely on me). But I ended up loving that connection and bonding time with my baby girl. I had a way to instantly build a bond with her, provide her with comfort and nurture her.
I didn’t think I would be so emotional about the end of breastfeeding. I’m sure some of the emotions are due to the changes that naturally occur as my body is trying to figure out what’s going on. But the emotions were starting before my body was trying to transition away from milk production.
If you were unaware, on July 4 Alex declared her independence from nursing and refused me. She absolutely would not get her milk directly from the source. I thought it was a nursing strike, based on googling. I tried all of the things they said to encourage the baby to nurse. But when she looked at me, flicked my breast and tried to crawl away I knew I was done trying to convince her to nurse because she was completely disinterested.
I started to exclusively pump so she could get her milk. I hated that. It just felt like I was no longer a human being, but just a tool being attached to a machine. It was isolating and lonely because I sat all by myself to do this. As the days went by, it started taking longer and longer to pump out enough milk.
On the day Alex turned 11-months-old she had a bottle of cow’s milk while we were at my mom’s house for the day. As I held her and she downed the bottle, tears filled my eyes. I was so glad that there was something else she would drink (because the formula attempts were disastrous), I was so nervous that I was doing something “wrong” because of all the stuff online about not giving a baby cow’s milk until they’re a year old (nevermind that my generation received it before then), I was so guilt-ridden that I was considering stopping pumping because I was still making milk.
This past week, as I’ve been drastically reducing my pumping and the baby has been consuming less and less mama’s milk… my emotions are on psychotic overdrive. I feel like crying almost all day. Making decisions feels like a task that is about 8000x harder than it should be.
And what used to be a good stress reliever, running, has changed dramatically since I became a mother. I still feel amazing after a run. But I come home to feeling like I’ve let my family down by leaving. Either the baby will be crying (she’s very much a mama’s girl), or I’ll have to immediately start packing her food for the next day, or I’ll see her toys scattered all over as my husband is playing a video game or something like that. All of those runner’s high feel-goods go away very quickly when I’m immediately confronted with all the duties that come with MOM.
When I started to exclusively pump, I got a clogged duct about every other day. I thought those were painful (they were.) But they paled in comparison to the engorgement and clogging since trying to wean myself from the contraption. Try putting those painful breasts in a sports bra and setting out for a run… Ugh! It’s horrible! Plus the fact that they leak like crazy, it’s worse than the early days of nursing!
So to be able to attempt getting at least 3 runs a week during this time, I have been doing some things to try making this uncomfortable period more manageable.
I’m finally starting to feel a little better… physically. It’s taken a couple of weeks to start feeling better in that regard.
Emotionally, I’m still kind of up and down. Hopefully that will even out soon too!
As I was rocking my baby tonight and she fell asleep on me, I couldn’t put her down for a while. I was just holding her and absolutely awestruck by how much she has grown and changed in this (nearly a whole) year. Time has flown by and these moments are fleeting. I will blink and realize that she’s 2, or 10, or 18. So while I do have things I want to do for myself (and I still need to treat myself as an individual with goals/plans) I also know that she is so important to me. And to be cheesy and quote Aerosmith:
Don’t want to close my eyes
I don’t want to fall asleep
Cause I’d miss you babe
And I don’t want to miss a thing