Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The end

Sadly, we're nearing the end of our breastfeeding journey. Somewhere between my last post on Saturday and Sunday morning, the thought struck me that Andrew's existence had been reduced to three modes of operation -- eating, sleeping or screaming. My life had warped into a state of such utter and total exhaustion that I cried on the phone with my mom, my sister, my best friend. I was so completely drained that I didn't even brush my teeth on Saturday and the sad thing is I didn't realize it until I fell into bed that night still wearing the same clothes I had on the night before. And, I was simply to tired to get up and brush my teeth.
Somewhere in the night, I decided that I was not being fair to my son. Unless he had some sort of stomach disorder (reflux or colic maybe?) it was not normal for him to cry so much for so long. He should be cooing and staring at lights, not screaming until his face looked purple and his cry morphed from simple crying into something Greg was calling "the goat." So I got out of bed Sunday morning with one goal -- to feed my baby.
I nursed him like normal and then I presented him with a four ounce bottle of formula. He guzzled it down and then the most amazing thing happened. Our babe was content. He wasn't sleeping, eating or crying -- he was just happy to be in my arms, listening to me talk. He even started to coo.
So we started giving him two ounces of supplemental formula not just at three feedings like we'd been doing, but at every feeding. The result is that we got our baby back. Andrew emerged from his hunger a satisfied, happy baby. He is now content to sit in his bouncy seat and stare out the window. He likes to watch his mobile. He stares at my face as I sing or talk to him without a trace of discomfort. He is finally happy.
Today, we saw Dr. S and told her about our choice. She is a very comforting presence. Instead of chastising me for giving up -- she said something like "you have done everything you could possibly do to nurse this baby. There comes a point when it's just not working and you need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of him."
So, that's where we are. I am still breastfeeding and then giving Andrew a bottle, but I can tell already that my milk is dissapearing. And, that makes me sad.
But, it's OK because Andrew is happy and content and finally satisfied.
I remember during my pregnancy, thinking how if only I were determined enough I would be successful at breastfeeding. While determination is certainly a part of the breastfeeding puzzle, there are many other factors that play a role in whether a mother will be successful. They say it's simple supply and demand and I believed every word that I read. I now know that simply isn't always true. I may never know why my body didn't produce enough milk for my son. I do know that even though it brought me to the point of utter exhaustion, I wouldn't trade those tender moments with my son for anything in the world (except maybe the ability to keep breastfeeding). But it's time to move on, however heartbreaking it might be for me.
Each time I nurse my son now, I wonder if it is the last time and I try to fix the picture of him at my breast in my mind -- his little face, his wispy baby hair, his tiny hand on my chest. I try to memorize that feeling because I know that it is unique in this world and I am not likely to ever experience that particular type of joy again.

1 comment:

  1. This happiness and comfy-ness for you and Andrew? It was hard-fought, Mama. I know this must feel incredibly bittersweet, but you have to do what is best for you guys. There's so much honor and respect in that, Krista.

    Gawd, if there's anything I've learned in regards to the whole of breastfeeding literature...it's to no longer take what is said as granted. Sometimes it really does feel like a giant bait and switch. :/

    Here's wishing many more happy days full of cooing and cuddling and REST! :)