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.