Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Our Nursing Story

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.


Comments on this post

  1. sizzle says:

    You did good, mama. I’m sorry you are sad about the ending but I hope you know what a great mom you are.
    sizzle´s last blog post ..Hard & Tearful Choices

    1. bethany actually says:

      Fourteen months and three weeks of nursing is SUPER-MEGA FANTASTIC, Rhi. Seriously. And for what it’s worth, Annalie nursed till just past her second birthday, and even though at the end she was only nursing for about two minutes before naptime and two minutes before bedtime, and I’m pretty sure she was hardly getting any milk at that point, I still cried a little when she was done. I feel for you.
      bethany actually´s last blog post to get what you need

      1. Meaghan says:

        What an amazing gift to be able to be the source of food for your children! I have nothing but respect and admiration for you that you were able to breastfeed as long as you did!
        Meaghan´s last blog post ..Hope

        1. Sara says:

          While I know this is a sad moment for you, you should be very proud of yourself. I won’t lie that I’m a tad bit jealous as I wasn’t able to and I think the bonding you did with Henry is priceless. And, I’m certain the snuggling will help you to still feel that no one else is mom.

          1. Erin says:

            Congratulations on such a wonderful, successful nursing relationship! You and Henry both benefitted from all that time together and it is clear that he is thriving. Good work!
            Erin´s last blog post ..New Uses for Old Things

            1. Jen Wilson says:

              A health nurse once told me that *any* nursing is good. The amount you did? Super-awesome fantastic. I was quite sad when Preston stopped nursing, too. It’s a sad thing. But at the same time, I was grateful we could do it in the first place. :)

              1. Angella says:

                Aw, hugs. But you nursed much longer than many can! Once my kids started solids and we cut down on nursing times, my milk dried up. I only made it nine or ten months and then it was over. I’m just glad that I was able to do it at all, and I know you are too. You done good, Momma.
                Angella´s last blog post ..The Best Of Both Worlds

                1. Margot says:

                  Amazing job!! Who knew nursing would be such an emotional journey, right? So much about what you say resonates with me. Thank you for sharing and give yourself some major kudos for being such a good mama!!

                  1. Nanette says:

                    You are a rockstar nursery and rockstar mom, and don’t you forget it! I’m so very proud of you and all that adorable Henry chunky goodness you made. xoxo
                    Nanette´s last blog post ..Well, hello there!

                    1. In This Wonderful Life says:

                      I think it’s awesome you nursed for so long! Do NOT beat yourself up. He got the best nutrients possible for a very long time! His happy and healthy and you are amazing for sticking with it :)
                      In This Wonderful Life´s last blog post ..Bows & Jammies

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