Feeding a 3-week old Alice. April 2012.
I always knew the day would come when I would stop breastfeeding Alice. When Alice was born and I started breastfeeding I honestly thought I wouldn't make it a month. And now, almost eight months in, I don't think twice about what I am doing. It just feels so easy and natural.
(In case you are squeamish about bodily things or a dude who doesn't care or just don't enjoy reading about breastfeeding, breast milk and other womanly things, here is your chance to stop reading!)
Unfortunately, though, my body seems ready to quit. I had a really tough time from the get-go with one breast producing significantly less than the other. One side only made a half to one ounce and the other side tried to make up the difference by making three to four ounces. At most. As Alice grew, my supply only slightly increased. At almost 4 months, after every feeding, Alice still seemed hungry and yet there was nothing left to give. I nursed her more frequently, took supplements and even pumped after feedings but all of that only slightly increased my production. So, on the recommendation of her pediatrician, we started solids at 4 months. Over the last few weeks, my milk supply has plummeted and I am now only making about 6-8 ounces of breast milk in a 24-hour period. Not nearly enough to sustain a growing baby.
Maybe we shouldn't have started solids when we did but, honestly, I was ready. Because I had known low supply issues, I felt tremendous pressure and stress over whether or not Alice was receiving enough nutrition and fluids. Giving her solid foods and pumped breast milk with an ounce or two of water helped alleviate some of that pressure. And she loved the experience of trying new foods and flavors and textures.
Luckily I have a few bagfuls of frozen breast milk that are sustaining Alice right now and we will slowly transition her to a bottle or two of formula a day when that runs out. I will continue to breastfeed her as long as she has interest (which is waning!) and as long as my body produces even a few drops.
It makes my heart hurt to think about the last time I will nurse Alice. But I also know that, with motherhood, comes heartache as your child grows up and grows less dependent on you. So I will continue to nurse Alice as best that my body can. And if there is a little formula in her tummy, that is okay, too. She will still grow to be a smart and wonderful and funny and happy and beautiful little girl, regardless of what is in her belly.
**Obviously breastfeeding and formula-feeding are polarizing issues within the world of motherhood. I googled a few things about weaning and transitioning to formula and was shocked at the negativity of some responses. Every mother has to do what is best for her and her child. I do not take this decision lightly and have spent countless hours worrying and wondering and deciding about what to do. Please, if you decide to leave a comment, be respectful. Thank you.**