Thursday, February 7th, 2013
Early Monday morning, I nursed Henry for the last time. I had kind of hoped that our last nursing session would be “planned” so that I could…I don’t know savor it? But, my body had other plans and here we are. I’m extremely proud that we made it almost 15 months, but I’m honestly very sad. I live in a city where extending nursing is not out of the ordinary at all and I had hoped we’d at least make it to 18 months. But, again, my body had other plans.
When Henry was born, he weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces. He dropped a bit of weight before we left the hospital, but nothing that was super concerning. When we took him to his first doctor’s appointment at 3 days old, he had dropped ten percent of his body weight. His doctor sent us home with some formula samples and orders to feed him half an ounce before a nursing session and half an ounce after. I sobbed every time we had to give him formula. I felt like such a failure. Feeding this baby was my job and I was failing at it.
I called a lactation consultant that evening and left a very tearful message. The sweetest lady in the world called back and squeezed me into her schedule the next day. We bundled Henry up (I believe it was only his second time out of the house) and went to the lactation clinic (just four blocks from my house, I love Portland). After our appointment, it was determined that my milk was in and we could discontinue formula use. That was officially the last problem we ever had with nursing.
I know a lot of women experience pain and lots of frustration with breastfeeding, but I didn’t. I had exactly one clogged duct that worked itself out on it’s own and Henry bit me exactly once. It helped that he didn’t get his first tooth until he was about 10 months old, I suppose. Of course, nursing meant that I was the only one that could put Henry for a large portion of his life, but I did cherish those quiet moments we had together. In the evenings, as he was nursing right before bedtime, I’d whisper “I love you, Henry” and he’d unlatch to give me a big gummy grin. Those grins are forever engraved in my mind and totally worth all the hours (697, according to my Baby Connect iPhone app) I spent.
As Henry began eating solids, my milk supply dropped. As he got closer and closer to his first birthday, I could tell that our nightly nursing session just wasn’t filling him up like it used to. After his birthday, we started giving him a bottle of milk at night instead of nursing. It seemed that all the fretting I did about introducing cow’s milk was for nothing as the first couple of nights, he happily sucked the milk down. Then Bill went on a business trip, leaving me to handle bedtime alone for a few nights. One night, Henry pushed the bottle away and grabbed at my shirt. He wanted to nurse and I barely had any milk for him. After finally getting him to sleep, I went into our bedroom and sobbed. I wasn’t ready to give up on nursing and he clearly wasn’t either. Luckily, we were able to keep nursing before naps for a few more weeks. Soon after, I only had enough milk to nurse before his morning nap and he seemed to adapt well to that. Then, after a nasty bout of the stomach bug, my body apparently said “enough.” I fed him early in the morning on Monday and haven’t had any milk since then.
So, here we are. I’m proud that I was able to nurse my baby for his first year (and a bit beyond). I am proud to have helped create those chubby cheeks and that delicious belly. I’m sad to say goodbye to our daily quiet time. But, I’m excited to wear a non-nursing bra and be able to take cold medicine, which sounds silly, but after 2 years of suffering through colds unmedicated?
14 months and 3 weeks is pretty good, isn’t it? Hopefully he’ll still indulge me in some daily snuggling.