End of an Era

Anyone who knows me well (or at least reads my Facebook page) knows that I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding. I think everyone should give breastfeeding a try. I think it’s a travesty that our country’s healthcare system is not more breastfeeding-friendly. Women consistently get incorrect information about feeding their babies, if they get any information at all. I’ve seriously considered becoming a lactation consultant, although not right now because I’ve come across a different, very cool, project, which I’ll post about later. (I’m all about re-inventing myself, a la Madonna, except without all her trashiness.)

Anyway, I’ve had a lot of discussions with classmates and friends about reasons to breastfeed and the mechanics of it, but I don’t think we as a breastfeeding community talk about the end of breastfeeding very well, and that’s unfortunate. After making it through 6 months of exclusively breastfeeding Menininho I just assumed I’d go at least another 6, and that at some point after then he would just gradually prefer solids over milk and one day he’d quit taking the breast totally and that would be that. Back in May I read one of blogger Cjane’s posts (Mammorial Day, Part 2), where she described breastfeeding her son one night and feeling impressed that that was the last time she’d nurse him and that she’d better enjoy it. I cried when I finished the post. I couldn’t imagine knowing ahead of time when I’d wean my baby. Heck, I couldn’t imagine weaning my baby.

About a month ago I got an email from my cardiologist. Based on the results of a host of tests I’ve had run (you might remember the stress test I blogged about), he recommended I get on a drug that is currently being tested in Marfan syndrome patients. My doctor couldn’t promise that it would work for me, but case studies have shown it to be promising and it’s possible that it could even heal some of the problems with my heart, not just halt the progression. The only caveat is that in order to start taking this medication I would have to stop breastfeeding Menininho.

I was really torn over what to do, and I admit, part of me was nervous about what people would think or say when they saw me giving Menininho a bottle. Would they judge me with their little frownsmiles (you know what I’m talking about!)?   Would my baby still love me?  Would moving him to formula cause some mysterious kind of damage down the road that I couldn’t yet anticipate?  I didn’t feel like I had many people to discuss this with except, of course, my husband, who has always been incredibly supportive of me breastfeeding.

In the end though, I knew what I had to do.  Menininho is not going to remember whether I breastfed him, but he will remember whether I had enough energy to play with him. I owe it to him and any potential future children to see if this medication will work for me (please pray that it does!).

So Wed. night I nursed Menininho for the last time. It was so hard. I cried the entire time. I think he sensed it was his last time because he nursed for a lot longer than usual. For a brief moment I again questioned my decision. But in the end, I felt really good about it. We had a bit of a rough start with the formula but now Menininho gets excited to see me coming with the bottle and he can, and prefers to, feed himself.

I will NOT miss the weaning process. This may just be because I weaned him relatively quickly, but the past few weeks have felt like the first trimester of pregnancy all over again (minus the nausea). I’ve heard it will go away in a week or two.

As moms, we’re hard on ourselves about a lot of things. Whether or not we want to admit it, we’re hard on each other about a lot of things. Let’s not let breastfeeding be one of them. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not going to give up on educating women about breastfeeding, because I believe that in most situations breast is best, but at the end of the day happy moms = happy babies = happy families, and that is way more important. We should all embrace the decisions we make.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “End of an Era

  1. Caitlyn

    Hey Maya, I love reading your blog. I was only able to breastfeed Chaela for three months because my milk dried up on its own. I don't think anyone will judge you (and also, I love the word "frownsmiles"). Besides, even if they do, the people who know and love you are behind you 100%. Good luck with the new medicine. I hope it does what you want it to!

  2. Maya

    Seriously, the advice you gave me to continually pump to keep up my supply was the best breast feeding advice I got from anyone. Without that, I don't know if I would have made it as long as I did. So, thanks for that 🙂

  3. Maya

    Oh also, I can't take credit for "frownsmiles"…do you read http://www.seriouslysoblessed.blogspot.com?

  4. CamilleJohnFam

    Maya-good job for nursing six months. Staunch opinions about many things change so much when you are the mama and as far as nursing goes the food source. I too am a huge advocate of nursing. I didn't realize that it doesn't always work out for people as planned. Maybe I was giving frown smiles to people before I had babies. 😦 With all of my babies, I nursed until my milk dried up around 6 months. I kept trying to convince myself that we could keep going and when I finally switched to formula I was so much less stressed about feeding and baby getting enough it was amazing (nevertheless, I still nursed subsequent babies as long as possible). I totally agree that happy baby=happy mom and happy family. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and good luck with your new meds.

  5. Megan Lewis

    Maya, your blog really touched me. I know it must be hard to make that decision, but I am proud of you for doing it. I wish you the best with the new medication and I know Miles will thrive off of your love and care.

  6. I found your blog through another post I commented on… and I wanted to throw you some virtual hugs. You did a fabulous job nursing your baby, and I think you hit the nail on the head – he won’t remember how you fed him, but he’ll remember if you don’t have energy or good health as he grows older. You do what you need to do to stay healthy and happy and don’t feel guilty for a minute.

    I was also a huge proponent of breastfeeding member of the frownsmile club (man, I love that term – thanks for that!) until I had my own child. I admit that I judged bottlefeeding women. Now I’m like the freaking poster child for formula feeding. Go figure.

    Motherhood is all about flexibility and the ability to handle what life throws at you, in my opinion. Sounds like you are doing a stellar job of that. Stay strong, momma.

  7. Hey! Great Post. I linked to it from your post today, and have to say that your story made me cry too. You did the right thing for you and your situation and I wish you lived around the corner because I’d like to give you a big hug. I’m still breastfeeding my daughter and have some of the thoughts that you did while you were still breastfeeding yours. I thank my lucky stars everyday that I’m still able to breastfeed her going into our 7th months and I worry that my supply will suddenly disappear or something. Sometimes I’ll try giving her a bottle because I worry that I’m not making enough milk, but she’ll take a few sips and look at me like “Why are you giving me this?” then I feel better. Anyway, thanks for keeping up with my blog and commenting.

  8. I cried when I weaned both of my daughters and yes, it was rough with the engorgement and I got mastitis both times. The important thing is you did it for as long as you could and it’s more important that your sweet baby have a healthy mommy around for a LONG time to take care of him.

    Merry SITsmas : )

  9. I agree that too many women don’t even try, which is unfortunate. I know formula has come a long way, but it seems moms forsake that bonding time for convenience, which is unfortunate.

    But I also agree that we can be too hard on each other. One friend literally could NOT breastfeed her babies. She tried and she cried when she couldn’t and she was judged harshly for giving her newborn a bottle. That’s not fair either.

  10. I hope your new drug helps you greatly:) I am still breastfeeding my 20 month old daughter, but she also has 3 cups of cow’s milk a day and water.

    With my other two children, I breastfed one for 2 weeks, and one for 5 weeks. I agree about respecting the decisions of others, we don’t always know why people stop breastfeeding when they do, or why they don’t try it out, but I do believe as mothers we are all doing the best we possibly can for our children, and that is what matters.

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