How My 4-Month Old Made His Own Decision to Stop Nursing

If you remember, on Wednesday with Rhys’s 4 Month Update, I noted that I had stopped nursing Halloween weekend. Sadly, it wasn’t my choice…it was Rhys’s.

I had always wanted to nurse. It wasn’t because Rhys would give immunities (that was a plus, though). It wasn’t because it was the cheaper way (although that really helped us). It wasn’t because it is the “all-natural experience” like natural birthing and attachment-baby-led parenting, and baby wearing (although those parents who do all that, good for them).

No. It was because I wanted to. I was becoming a mother, and to me, that is the epitome of motherhood. I mean, how much closer can you be when your child needs you and your body produces exactly what they need? The bond is just so strong. I can’t even explain it. It felt like Rhys and I were one and the same. The love that exuded during those nursing sessions was the exact same love I felt for Justin on the day we were sealed for all time and eternity.

While I was pregnant, I remember hearing and reading all these horror stories about cracking and bleeding and bruising the first few weeks. My obstetrician even gave me a prescription for a cream. He said, “You have red hair, and red head’s skin tend to be more sensitive.” I know it would hurt the first few weeks, and that is why many women give up in the first few weeks.

The first week or so, Rhys did have trouble with latching, and I was pretty banged up. However, although I was very sore for the first few minutes, I loved every single time I could nurse him. And, I felt proud of myself. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to endure. And, I don’t even like using the word endure, because I feel that is too strong.

Since I started teaching a month and half after I gave birth to Rhys, he has been taking one bottle a day of pumped milk. Well, Rhys got sick at 2.5 months old. He had a really bad sore throat, and nursing was extraordinarily hard for him. One day, he tried to nurse for less than 5 minutes, then just screamed and screamed and screamed. So, my mom came and helped me. We warmed up some of my frozen milk, but I didn’t have much of a supply. So, after we fed him, we went to go get some formula to help him through the weekend with his sore throat.

After a lot of milk or formula bottles that weekend, Rhys was kind of finicky nursing. Some days he’d be willing to nurse. Other times, he’d want the immediate satisfaction of the bottle. My supply started to decrease. So, I went off birth control, took fenugreek pills, and tried pumping more. I’d try to make Rhys nurse, but as he got more aware and distracted and liking the instant ease of the bottle, he’d always push away from me, take a suck, then detach, or just scream until I stopped forcing him. At about 3 months, he wouldn’t even dare nursing right before bed–he’d only take a bottle. So, I pumped and pumped at home and at work, in the morning, noon, and night. But, what I was able to pump was less and less, which I didn’t understand as I knew I had more of a supply.

Then, at about 3.5 months, Rhys was taking half of his feedings from a bottle (only the afternoon feeding would be my milk, taken from about 4-5 pumping sessions to get 4 oz!!). Well, Halloween weekend came along and we went up to Farmington to house sit. I brought my pump and some formula, preparing for more fights. During that 3 day weekend, Rhys was only willing to nurse once or twice!

So, Sunday evening, after crying to Justin, we decided to give up on nursing. It was such a hard decision. I had done everything I could to keep up my supply, and it had increased a little. I had tried different positions, I had tried switch-feeding. But Rhys wouldn’t have it. I felt like a failure. I felt like he was personally refusing me. Now, I know that wasn’t the truth in the least, but imagine how you would feel if you spent all the time and effort in the world to provide someone you love with something they need, and they refuse it! But, Rhys didn’t want to. And, with everything in parenthood, we wanted to do what was best for Rhys. He made his first decision about his lifestyle. He was done nursing, and there was nothing I could do about it.

I am still trying to 100% come to grips and accept this choice, but there is still part of me that wishes Rhys would be willing to nurse. I understand that there was an unavoidable habit formed due to sickness and being at a babysitter’s (and my stress level probably didn’t help), but I yearn to nurse him again. I know he got the right start–almost 4 months worth of nursing–and I know he is on the right track with milestones (except his weight gain is problematic, but that is another post). And, I do enjoy watching him try to hold the bottle on his own and reach for it as soon as he sees it.

The two lessons learned:
1) Doing what is best for your baby may be doing what they want and not what you want.
2) You can fill the trough and lead the horse to the water, but you can’t force him to drink.

Did you nurse, and if so, for how long?
When did you know it was time to move to bottles only?


Check out this astounding-looking girl!
justjacq

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • michele bowman

    We only nursed for 6 weeks. Between silent reflux, inverted nipples, oversupply, and never getting a good latch, we gave up. It was really hard on me to give it up, so I pumped exclusively for 6 months. Both when I stopped trying to breastfeed and stopped pumping, I had to give my give myself a bit of extra love, but my relationship with my baby improved both times. In the end, it all worked out. 🙂

  • Oh man, I am sorry! That definitely is a rough feeling.

    I'm kind of an anomaly, since I HATED breastfeeding. I breastfeed for 3 months before switching to formula and it's the best decision I ever made. Not only the physical pain and discomfort, but for some reason it totally exacerbated my baby blues and made me so anxious and sad. I'm going to try again with my next baby, but I'm kind of already dreading it….

    You can read a little more about it: http://my-sunshines-blog.blogspot.com/2014/08/my-breastfeeding-decision.html.

  • Nursing is hard! And my baby is only 2 weeks old. I almost gave up during the first week because he had a bad latch and he would get so frustrated during middle of the night feelings that I just gave him bottles. He hasn't had a bottle in about 8 days now though and I'm hoping we can keep it up cause like you I love the time we spend together when he's nursing. Wish me luck! 🙂

  • Hi came on over from Karen's blog to say Hi so Hi………………
    Now my second daughter stopped breastfeeding when she was only a couple of months old and she was the only one of my girls who took to breastfeeding and then suddenly she stopped wanting it so I bottle feed her expressed breast milk for the next 3 months till my milk dried up

  • Christina

    Great post! I was only able to nurse my first son for two weeks because of postpartum preeclampsia. I was able to pump two weeks longer, then my supply dried up. I really beat myself up about it for a long time. He's a healthy, smart, hilarious 6 year old now! It's hard being a mom! I wish more would band together and offer support (like this post) instead of judging all day long.

    I found you through Karen. I look forward to reading more! 🙂

  • I'm a long way off from having kids but I really enjoyed this post! I am always curious about the pros and cons of nursing… I was never nursed as a baby and my mom loved not nursing, but I always hear about how good it is and how strong of a bond it forms.

  • I'm amazed you were able to pump exclusively for 6 months! I have to have 4-5 pumping sessions to be able to fill a 4 oz bottle!

  • That's very interesting. I read your post and left a comment!

  • That's interesting that only one of your children wanted to breastfeed.

  • Thank you! I'm just glad I was able to nurse for as long as I could do.

  • I was bottle-fed since my mom worked. And, it seems like with each kid, she was able to nurse longer and longer with them, so there's always #2. =)

  • Thanks! 🙂

  • jsanck15

    My kids both quite nursing cold turkey at around 9 months. Even though I could tell it was coming, it was SO hard to give it up. And it wasn't my choice, so I totally feel you. We went straight to sippy's with formula and skipped bottles totally. They just preferred the cup. Whatever is best for your child is so right!

  • That's interesting that they completely skipped the bottle. Was transitioning to a sippy cup hard?

  • jsanck15

    For nearly a week, it seemed like they weren't drinking ANYTHING and that was frustrating. They eventually got the hang of it. I just offered the cup, and actually at around 5-6 months when they started on baby food, I would fill their sippy with water so they could explore it a little bit. They got hooked and never looked back, and I never had to wash a bottle.

  • I'm not a mom, so I don't understand, but gosh, I hope it turns around and it gets better for you soon!

  • Thanks! And hopefully, one day, you'll be able to enjoy nursing your own child!

  • FunnyFeet

    I am not a mother, and I won't be having children so I have no idea what any of this is like. It must be hard to accept his decision, but I think it is wonderful that you are.

  • I'm not a mum either but I know I will want to nurse when I am. I bet its super tough but you are right that you can lead a horse to water but can't make it drink. x

  • Sometimes the way things end up, aren't the way we planned! In fact, that happens most of the time I've found in regards to kids. My youngest kind of weaned himself, too.

  • I have a few friends that have talked about how intimate breast feeing is with your baby. How it's such a bonding experience. My sister couldn't breast feed and it was something she was looking forward to the most.

  • Deidre Emme

    Interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing!

  • How tough! I'm not a mom yet so I can only imagine how tough it is to move forward with a new route.

  • Karissa Ancell

    I nursed my daughter. She didn't give it up til 15 months though. I went a little long because she was sensitive to milk when we introduced it at a year.

  • I nursed my daughter until about 6 months, when I got back to work it was too hard to keep up my supply. I've heard about little ones getting fussy after they have a bottle, but my little didn't she wanted me more than the bottle! I miss it actually!

  • Thanks for the support. And who knows, you might change your mind–motherhood is the best thing in the entire world!

  • I definitely would suggest nursing as long as you or your child is willing/able!

  • That's what I'm also finding with his sleeping. He's in his 4-month "regression" right now.

  • You're welcome!

  • I guess I should get used to it, though. That's what I hear happens ALL throughout motherhood!

  • Lucky you!

  • That's nice, though, that she wanted you more than a bottle!

  • Kimberly

    I nursed Olivia for 10 weeks. I longed so much to nurse her again, but she'd been on a bottle since week one, so once we stopped she was more than happy to be done and she didn't even need any extra formula, so know she was hardly getting any! With my second baby I started nursing and really really wanted to stop. I LOVE bottle feeding!! But I nursed because it was free and we really needed free. I nursed until Axel was 13 months and I still get a surge of joy when I realize I can leave Axel and not have to hurry home to nurse him in an hour or two. Next baby, I'll nurse for a few months, but I'm not going to be afraid to do some bottles too. I like that freedom.

  • I am starting to like the dietary freedom, as well as not worrying about leaving the house for more than 3 hours, but I still do miss nursing Rhys.