Warning: I am discussing my feelings in this post and am not trying to offend anyone. However, this is my blog and my opinions and I want to be honest about them!
When I first was pregnant I wasn't sure about the whole nursing thing. I didn't really know if it'd be for me and thought it was kinda strange to think about my baby sucking on my boobs. As I got further and further along in my pregnancy I started reading every book under the sun and learned all the benefits of breast milk and how important it is for the baby and the mommy. I was still not a mother yet and my main reason for deciding to nurse was that I wanted it to help me lose weight. I thought it'd be a great diet plan for getting rid of the baby weight (so not true though sadly!)! I didn't decide to do it because I thought it was necessarily best for my baby, but because it'd be best for me. As all moms know, we put ourselves FIRST until the day that child is born then it's all about them :)
For awhile during my pregnancy I planned on doing both breast and formula because I have such a busy lifestyle and didn't want to have to slow down to nurse my baby all the time and didn't like the idea of having to nurse the baby in public places. Once I learned about pumping I decided to go 100% breast milk as by that time I'd read about allllll the benefits and how important it is for the baby!
Once Kye was born I had the plan to nurse him for 6 months. It was just a number I picked because I thought after 6 months babies were too old to be chowing down on boobs. I had such a hard time with nursing that my new goal became 3 weeks! Once I got the hang of it I knew I'd be able to go for the 6 months and I really enjoyed it. I hated pumping but thought it was all worth it to be able to store up milk so once I quit nursing at 6 months Kye would be able to still have breast milk beyond that.
6 months came and went and I was still enjoying nursing. By then I'd learned that it is the best thing for the baby until they are one year old and really appreciated the fact that it helped build up his immune system so much. He turned 6 months right around the time this swine flu stuff got bad and I've been so thankful that he's such a strong baby and hasn't even ever had a cold yet!!! My new goal became to nurse Kye until his first birthday when he could have cows milk. I planned to never introduce formula and go straight from breast to whole milk at one year.
When we went to NYC last month I realized that while I'm not tired of nursing, I am tired of pumping. I loathe it. I have had to pump all over the world from Paris to NYC to Disney! I cannot stand it. It's such a pain to revolve my trips around my next pump session. I was so over it in NYC that I just didn't worry about it. Sure I pumped the needed 4x per day but I didn't make it a priority and ended up spreading out the sessions too long and got a clogged milk duct. It's annoying that when I am away from my baby I can't fully be on vacation. I still have to worry about when I'm going to pump and how I'm going to get the milk home. GRRRR.
Coming up next month Zach and I are going skiing. I'm very excited for this trip as we haven't been in 2 years! The one thought in the back of my mind though is that I'll be wearing a million layers and will have to stop skiing, take off each layer, pump, then put all that junk back on. I'm dreading it and it's actually making me not look forward to what should be an awesome trip.
Since I've pumped like a crazy woman and saved every ounce of milk I thought I'd add it all up and see when I could start weaning him off the breast. Wouldn't it be great if he could be done before the ski trip and still have enough milk from the freezer to last until he can have cows milk? So I spent quite awhile on Saturday going through our freezer and adding up all my stored milk. It looked like enough to last a lifetime!
Once I added it all up I realized I had 587.5 oz total. That sounds like a TON but it actually averages out to 20 days (4 bottles a day) of 7 ounce bottles. Since the dr. told me I can mix 1/2 breast milk and 1/2 cows milk at 10 1/2 months then do all cows milk at 1 year that means I have enough frozen breast milk to start weaning on Dec. 31st. When I came to that conclusion my heart sank. The feeling I had was disappointment. I was hoping it would be enough milk where I could start weaning him NOW. Of course feeling this way brought on a wave of guilt like no other!!! It made me realize that I am ready to be done. I'm ready to move on to the next phase and not be nursing my baby anymore. :(
I thought about my feelings and analyzed them and realize that my #1 reason for wanting to stop is that I am SICK of pumping. My #2 reason is that I'm ready to be Emily again. Honestly, to me, being a nursing mother is still like you are somewhat pregnant. My body is still not my own and I'm over wearing the nasty maternity bras everyday. I'm ready to be able to be DONE with "maternity" gear. I'm ready to know what size my boobs will actually become! I'm ready to be able to enjoy life without worrying about leaking milk. I'm ready to get dressed each morning instead of living in pjs b/c whats the point of getting dressed when I have to nurse a baby 4 times a day?
Zach asked me why I want to stop and if stopping is the best thing. He made a good point because I realized my reasons for wanting to stop breastfeeding are 100% selfish. That got me thinking and you know what...there is NEVER a reason to stop breastfeeding that is BEST for the baby!!! It may be best for the mom, but never for the child. God made it so that babies thrive on breast milk. It is the best nutrients for children. Anyone who stops breastfeeding at any time really is, in my opinion, doing it for selfish reasons. I felt a lot of guilt for this and for considering making a choice that would not be the best thing for my baby.
I decided to look through the TONS of free formula samples we have because I thought if I incorporated a little formula into the mix that it could speed things along for me. We have 6 sample cans of Enfamil Lipil with Iron and when I Googled around I learned that that one is the closest one to breast milk! As I looked at the cans I saw that two of them expire Dec 1st of this year and I felt like that was a sign (I always look for "signs" when I'm making big decisions haha!).
I worked it all out and talked to Zach and he suggested doing one feeding a day of formula and three of breast milk. It was a great idea! Why did I always think it was EITHER/OR and not both???!!! Duh! In the end I have decided on, what I think, it a very fair compromise. It's not the 100% best thing for Kye but it's also not the 100% most selfish thing for me either. Breastfeeding is a very personal decision and this is a decision I feel good about making! I've decided to do formula for his 11:00 and 3:00 feedings and still nurse him at the 7 am and 7 pm feedings. It's the best of both worlds because the first and last feedings are my favorites (he's the most cuddly!) and when he nurses the best and it will make my life SO much easier. I can nurse him at 7 and get ready for the day not having to sport a nasty bra all day then after nursing him at 7 I can get ready for bed and just wear the nasty bras for sleep! Then when I am away from Kye during the day I don't have to worry about pumping! And on trips I'll only have to pump right when I wake up and before I go to bed which isn't a big deal at all and won't involve any crazy planning!
I felt so good about my decision and decided to start on the formula on Monday. I'm dropping the 3:00 nursing session first as that's what the Babywise Blog Lady did :) I figured since Kye is so easily adaptable that I'd just go for it with straight formula. I made the bottle and was shocked at how much formula looks like breast milk. I know that sounds stupid but for Zach and I formula is this EVIL word!!! I don't know why but we both feel that way! I guess I expected it to be green or black some "evil" color haha but nope it's just like milk! Anyways he took a sip from the bottle and politely pushed it away. He refused to eat it at all! I mixed with with some breast milk and he still wouldn't drink it. Then I pumped and gave him fresh milk mixed with it and he still wouldn't drink it. He ended up totally skipping that meal!!! I was BAWLING my head off. I just kept thinking that he'll never take to the formula and that I'd be stuck nursing him all 4 feedings until he's a year old. It upset me so so so much and the fact that I was so upset made me realize just how ready I am!!!
The upside of being so upset was how sweet and precious my baby boy was! While I was crying he decided to cheer me up by CRAWLING! He crawled from the living room through the kitchen and into the laundry room, never scooting once! Here's a video I took during my crying break of him showing off his new skills!!! It was very exciting! He was also so comforting to me. I was sitting on the floor upset and he crawled over, climbed up on me and gave me a kiss! And he offered to share his toy with me!
I calmed down and decided to give it to him again at the 7:00 feeding as I KNEW he'd be starving! I was shocked at how well he did without his 3:00 meal. I kept offering it until almost 5 just to make sure and he really didn't want it. At 7 he pushed it away again and broke my heart a little bit by grabbing onto my shirt and trying to nurse :( I tried the bottle again and he drank it! It was 5 oz breast milk and 1 oz formula! I was so happy he drank it and I honestly really enjoyed giving it to him. I held him and cherished watching him drink it. Since I nurse I typically am not the one to feed him his bottle as I like to give others a chance to feed him but I enjoyed it! It was cute to see the little dimple he has next to his mouth when he sucks. With nursing I can't really see his face because it's blocked by my boob so I liked being able to look at him and really watch him.
Yesterday I mixed 2 oz formula with 4 oz breast milk and he drank it down no problems at all! He did throw up a decent bit the rest of the day but I'm sure it's his body adjusting. I plan to up it by 1 oz each day and hopefully be the full 6 oz of formula on Saturday. If he drinks all that no issue then I'll stop pumping at 3 (right now I'm pumping for the missed feeding to get milk to be able to mix with the formula) and start letting my body adjust to nursing 3 times a day instead of 4! After I'm adjusted (I hear it takes a week or so!) I'll see how he does with a formula bottle at 11, which should be fine because by then he'll be used to it. I'll continue to nurse at 7 and 7 until I get to a point where I have enough frozen milk to last until he's a year old. Even though the dr said I can start introducing cows milk at 10 1/2 months I don't know that I will. I feel like this formula/breast milk combo is a really great thing and something I will be happy with. I can see myself doing this until he's the full 12 months, but we'll see!
My one regret is not introducing him to formula a LOT sooner. With baby #2 I plan to nurse exclusively again but to give at least one bottle of formula a week once he/she is 2 weeks old. I want them to know formula and to like it so when I'm ready to start weaning it'll be a lot smoother transition. I don't feel guilty at all for my decision to go from 4 breastfed feedings to 2 and supplementing with the formula. I know a girl at church has a baby about Kye's age and she nurses it 8 times a day still!!! Just because her baby is getting DOUBLE the breast milk that Kye's getting doesn't make that child healthier ya know? I don't think giving Kye formula for two feedings will significantly alter his life in anyway...it will just make him have a happier mommy!
I am so excited about the idea that I wish I'd done it before New York so I wouldn't have had to pump in the middle of the day. My plans for the next children are to do this 2 breast 2 formula deal once they are down to 4 feedings a day so around 6 months old! I am so so so proud of myself for nursing for this long exclusively (wayyy beyond my expectations!). I'm thankful that I've had this wonderful special time with my son and am glad that I'm not 100% done with this journey yet!