It’s happening. I think my baby no longer needs me to breastfeed her. Hooray/sniff sniff/woohoo/boo hoo/yippee/fall-into-a-puddle-and-weep-because-this-might-mean-she-doesn’t-need-me-AT-ALL-anymore. Get a hold of yourself, woman!
Seriously, though, I’m really having mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, hallelujah! I can wear a normal bra again! Finally! On the other, it’s the one thing I could give her that no one else can.
I always assumed I would breastfeed my daughter, mostly because I wanted to give her the benefits of breastmilk and as long as I could, I should. Though, even after I was pregnant, I didn’t know how long babies typically were breastfed nor did I ever understand how truly hard it is to breastfeed. No one told me (cries the victim!). I was lucky, though. Karina was relatively good at latching on and eating out the gate. And I was blessed with a good supply of milk. In the early days, the biggest challenge was that it hurt. And I was tired. And she needed to eat like 8 times a day and each time took 30-45 minutes and every time I turned around, it was time to eat AGAIN. I was dripping (literally) with milk all the time. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. But we stumbled our way through it, my husband sitting on the floor, keeping us company, while I sat in our rocking chair, holding and feeding our baby. He would tickle her legs and put a wet washcloth to keep her awake so she could eat. Babies are sleepy little buggers. It was hard. And I soaked my clothes and felt like I was going to pop because I was so full of milk. A funny cow. But it was beautiful and I hope I never forget those little moments that were shared just between us. I gave her what I had when she was inside of me and here was one last physical way that I could share what I had on the inside with her. So maybe you can kinda understand why I’m crying now.
Then by month 3, things got easier and they got harder. I didn’t know it but my milk was inflaming her gut. It seemed that Miss K. had some sort of an allergy. It all started when I saw blood in her stool. We went to the doctor and they said the most common cause was allergies. So the doctor had me cut dairy out of my diet and we went back a week later and had her stool tested. There was still blood in it. The doctor said maybe it was something else. So she had me cut out dairy, shellfish, peanuts, wheat, soy, and eggs. We went back a week later and tested her stool again. Still positive with blood in it. So now we had at least three weeks of bloody diapers (so so scary), poor pumpkin was throwing up often, was crying and crying while the milk ran through her system and I had no idea what to eat. The doctor said we should try giving her formula for a week just to rule out that it was, in fact, an allergy. If, after a week of being on formula, she still had blood in her stool, then we’d need to see a GI specialist. So she sent me home with some formula samples and I cried (and cried and cried). I just wasn’t ready to stop feeding her. But for that week, I did. Again, we got lucky. Miss K is incredibly flexible and drank the formula from a bottle without much fuss. I LOATHED that formula. It smelled bad, it made her poo gross, it gave her constipation. I was pumping six times a day to make sure that my supply didn’t drop. It sucked. Not only do you have to pump, but you don’t know if that milk will ever be able to be used, you have to wash bottles and pump parts, AND we were buying some of the most expensive formula out there. Not gonna lie. That was a really rough week.
But that formula kept Miss K.’s stomach calm. There was a noticeable change in her demeanor. At the time I thought the formula “sucked the spirit out of her.” And yes, I believe I actually used that phrase but in actuality, it allowed her calm, easy going nature to come out. The poor thing was screaming in pain and we didn’t know that it was my milk that was doing it to her. But I was resolved to feed her breastmilk. I wanted her to have that benefit. So I went back and cut out the six most common allergens again: wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts, dairy and shellfish. For a few months, I was constantly confused on what to eat. Pretty much anything processed had one of those ingredients in it. I thought that the whole gluten-free trend would help me here but usually they use soy based products to substitute the wheat. Couldn’t eat asian food – pretty much everything had soy sauce. Couldn’t eat fast food – not many choices. Couldn’t eat pizza or ice cream or cookies or any of my favorite things. So I ate a lot of avocados and tortillas and rice pastas and rice. Actually I lost a lot of weight then. Did that for a few months but also found that the stinkin’ formula was keeping her gut calm. So we decided to give her half breast milk and half formula and did this til we transitioned out the formula and transitioned in cow’s milk a month ago. The last few months of breast feeding were easy. She knew what to do and was efficient. My milk supply had dropped waaaay off so I was more comfortable; no engorgement, no leaks, no nuthin’. Our morning feedings were a sleepy beautiful little salute to the day. Precious moments that I hope I’ll never forget.
Well, we made it. I’ve been cutting back the feedings one by one. She’s been drinking out of a sippy cup, no more bottle. Yesterday I didn’t breast feed her at all. She didn’t seem to notice. My baby’s getting bigger. I’m so proud of her. And well, ya…I’m proud of me too for making it to 13 months. I’m going to miss those close moments but I know there will be other ways for me to bond with her. I bonded with her when I was feeding her the bottle, too. I guess it’s time for a new page in our story.