from the moment that i found out i was pregnant i knew i wanted to breastfeed my child. i didn’t worry about whether my milk would actually come in or not, i just figured it would all work itself out.
i read up on all of the benefits of breastfeeding. i took a class through my hospital, i spoke with friends and i consulted lactation specialists. i learned that breast milk has essential nutrients that helps promote good health in babies and beyond. i learned that breastfeeding strengthens the immune system and additionally, has great benefits for the mother. i wanted to do this. this was my plan. my journey. (in no way am i knocking or judging those of you who have chosen not to breastfeed their children, or couldn’t, i am only sharing my story).
it was a lot of work, breastfeeding. not just the nursing, but the pumping, the storing, the washing and sterilizing. it is a commitment. not consuming alcohol (okay this one wasn’t that difficult for me to be honest), the eating right and with certain restrictions, changing your wardrobe to accommodate a child who has to eat every few hours. it was painful and frustrating and took time getting used to. i constantly worried if my baby was getting enough and feared that it would always hurt. would i be able to make it to my goal?
as soon as i had made the decision to breastfeed i was determined to make it through lennon’s first year. as the months went by i questioned myself many times on whether i would actually be able to make it. it was especially hard after going back to work and having to rely solely on pumping. i hated pumping, but i knew my baby was thriving, this was best for her and i needed to continue to do it. i produced just enough milk for the next day allowing little extra to be stored. i was able to get a small stockpile by pumping extra on the weekends, but this meant that i essentially never left my child. i was with her every second possible because i knew i could nurse her and i wouldn’t have to rely on the small amount i had saved that surely i would need at a later time. this was one of the hardest parts. i saw friends, coworkers and even my sister producing plenty and not worrying. i often compared myself to them. am i not doing this right? how are they able to get so much more milk than me? but i did not give up.
and so here we are days away from lennon’s first birthday. as it quickly approached we began thinking about weaning her. i was making it to my goal and it was time for this chapter to end. but it also made me a little sad. i truly loved our time nursing together. it is such an empowering feeling knowing that i am providing my daughter with the sustenance she needs to live and thrive. for the past year this is something that only her and i shared. no one else could provide this for her. i began to feel a little guilty and hesitant about the decision to wean her. i was at a loss of when to do it, how to do it, should we start introducing cow’s milk right away and the list goes on.
however, 2 weeks ago i was let off the hook with this decision. on a wednesday afternoon, on her own, lennon stopped nursing. she nursed as usual when we got up in the morning and even before her first nap, but after then no more. every time i tried to get her to latch she refused; screamed, cried and turned away. she was done. while the transition was definitely made easier and i didn’t have to make the decision myself i was a little sad. i had been thinking and planning for this and expecting for it to end, but i thought i would be in control of when. i thought we’d have a ‘last goodbye’ so to speak.
lennon turns one in 3 days. we have slowly transitioned her to whole milk (at this time she gets about 50/50 breastmilk and whole milk). my milk supply has gone way down, but i continue to pump twice a day through her transition. i was no longer producing enough milk to sustain her on 100% breastmilk so the decision to transition her was an easy one.
i won’t lie, i was a little disappointed that technically i did not make it all the way to one year nursing her. but after a little reflection i realized all that i had done and accomplished in the past year. all the sacrifices i made to provide for my child. it was no easy feat. and it is something to be extremely proud of. i am proud that i persisted, even when i wanted to give up. i am proud that my daughter is almost one year old and still getting some breastmilk. i am proud of myself. and any mother, no matter how long they breastfed for, should feel proud too.