Good enough

I wrote two days before I found out I was pregnant with Paul. I didn’t have internet access at the time and didn’t realize I’d forgotten to post it until I already knew I was pregnant. At that point, it seemed like instead of talking about a hypothetical situation I was saying I didn’t love the new baby as much as the one I already had (hormones may have been involved…) But I saved it anyway and this week I came across it and decided to post.

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Every time a mother talks about breastfeeding her child past 1 year, especially if the child is almost 2 (or older), I wonder what that must be like. My original goal with Meg was to breastfeed until she turned 1, then wean her off daytime nursing (so I wouldn’t have to pump at work), but continue to nurse first thing in the morning and before bed. It didn’t work out. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get her to nurse at all past 11 months. It was a combination of going out of town for work and decreased supply because Meg preferred bottles and the pump wasn’t as efficient as the baby. She decided it wasn’t worth her time and nothing would change her mind.

At the time I was disappointed (an understatement – I wrote a LOT of angsty blog posts about it), but now I feel like it was the best thing that could have happened. She’s only 16 months old and breastfeeding is already a distant memory, which has made my life a million times easier. It may be selfish, but I love that all I have to do is hand her a bottle and she drinks it while I get ready in the morning or read her a book at night (or do nothing while Thomas reads her a book). I LOVE that I don’t have to think as much about what I put into my body. I love that I can go for a run while Thomas puts her to bed. (I do miss the calories burned by making breastmilk)

At this point, while future children are purely theoretical, I don’t think I’ll have any desire to breastfeed past a year. I know it would be good for them, but it just worked out so well this way for our family. I’m very, very happy to not be breastfeeding anymore (and it’s not because I didn’t like it – I also wrote posts about my love for breastfeeding.) Maybe it’s because near the end it was such a huge hassle. I had supply problems that started when Meg started eating solid foods and just kept getting worse, so it was a BIG relief to stop struggling with it.

I suppose my feelings might change once I have another child. Maybe even when I get pregnant. But right now I’m not even opposed to the idea of weaning at 9 months – it would have saved me so much heartache to just stop when the supply issue became a huge, all-consuming problem rather than fighting it unsuccessfully for 3 months. Basically I’d like to go back and tell myself to stop freaking out – both my baby and I turned out just fine. Because the fight took so much out of all of us, I’m not interested in fighting at all next time. When Meg was born I thought convenience was never worth it if the harder way was even a little better for my girl. I don’t think that anymore. Good enough is good enough.

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How I feel now: I love breastfeeding, but I no longer consider formula as something to be avoided at all costs. I did very much want to make it to six months of exclusive breastfeeding, if possible. I’ll definitely accomplish that since we only have a couple weeks to go and no supply issues. After that, though, I don’t know. I’ll keep breastfeeding, but will probably drop from pumping 3x/day at work to 2. I suppose the rest depends on Paul. Once Meg started purees, she had very little interest in breastfeeding. She drank bottles just fine, but didn’t want to work for food. Paul is more snuggly, but seems just as interested in solid food (read: very) as she was. Also, our deep freeze is being overrun by frozen breastmilk and I’m getting a little itchy to start using it. On the other hand…I’m not sure if I’m ready to start scaling back. Pretty soon I’ll have to decide whether to pump an extra bottle after the morning feeding over Christmas. I didn’t with Meg and it killed my supply. Right now I’m leaning toward still doing it, which probably means I’m not as ambivalent as I think. I’m still not opposed to weaning at 9 months, but I’m not exactly in favor, either.

Comments

  1. If we (ever) have another – I don’t think I’ll be able to pump at all because I hate it so.

  2. I think it’s a little crazy how breastfeeding a first can totally change how you feel about breastfeeding a second. With Kalena I wanted to breastfeed exclusively (wanted to SO BAD) but my supply was awful from the start and pretty much shot when I went back to work, so she quit nursing all together at like 4 months. With Will, on the other hand, I was prepared for low supply (and did deal with it) but I was WAY more open to supplementing with formula when he needed it. And that lead to him nursing for like 14 months. Who knows how nursing number 3 will be.

  3. Thanks for posting this. You know how I’ve been struggling with my supply and the possibility of stopping nursing lately, and it really helped to read this.

    On the upside, all of a sudden, my supply seems to have boosted back up — it’s like everything I’ve been doing for the past month has suddenly started to work. She has her 9-month well visit tomorrow and I’m going to ask that they weigh her before and after nursing to see how much she’s getting from me. At my last lactation appointment she only got an ounce (it seemed) but she was so wiggly on the scale that number may not have been very accurate.