Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Pass the tissues

I have to start from the beginning (even if I may be repeating myself.)

Once upon a time ago, I had a plan.

I was going to deliver naturally & I was going to nurse my baby.

My baby was breech, so we did not even try to deliver naturally. I think I took almost the other extreme when delivering my baby.

Growing up, I did not have a lot of exposure to babies, but those I did come in contact with had been nursed & I really bought into the health aspects. I wanted to do what I felt was best for my baby.

I had concerns in the hospital, especially when it was determined that Jacob lost more than 10% of his birth weight, but I did not get to see a lactation consultant until I was checking out. My equipment was o.k., she thought that the baby might be a bit tongue tied (he was not). Between that & the scheduled nursing sessions at the hospital that I did not get to attend for one reason or another, we did not get the greatest start.

At home, I hired a lactation consultant/baby nurse who helped with his latch.

I thought that everything was going fine. My baby was not miserable, as a matter of fact he slept rather well. When he stirred, I fed him.

I remember one night when we were on the couch so that daddy could sleep & he latched on all by himself. I could not have been happier. This is what I was meant to do for my baby.

Following the advice that I had read in far too many books on the subject. (If I knew any better, I should have questioned the length of time that he was or as the case my be wasn't nursing.) Since it was getting close to time for me to return to work, I started to pump so that he would have enough for his bottles. (not knowing how much he actually took while nursing, I had no idea how much was enough.)

Right about the time that I went back to work, we had another check-up & found that unfortunately, he was not gaining weight as he should. (He fell off the growth chart.) So we had to start waking the baby in the middle of the night for a feed, he should not have been sleeping through the night yet. (& we had been listening to the "do not wake a sleeping baby advice.") He also was spitting up a lot, so at this time we also started a prescription to help with the spitting up.

After his shots, I was able to nurse him & that got him over the pain & made me feel good, after feeling awful about his crying after getting shots.

Daddy was home & in addition to the paltry amount that I was able to pump, was using the frozen stash. On advice of the doctor, we started to supplement with formula. I was still feeding him every chance that I had - I now question if I tried to feed him often enough? He wasn't always interested & he did not stay for any length of time, we always used both sides.

Soon, it was time for daddy to return to work & for the baby to start day care. They complained that he did not have enough milk... I was still pumping as much as I could - up to 4 times in an 8 hour time frame, while still feeding the baby. I even got up in the middle of the night to pump some more.

After one or two weight checks, we were sent to a specialist who added a second prescription & upped his milk/formula to three 8 oz. bottles. (That was probably the fix - more calories, the bottles give him what he wanted with less effort.) At the same time, I was lucky to pump 8 oz. in total per day.

For quite a while, we were nursing in the morning, he was getting 3 formula only bottles during day care & we nursed before bed.

(Some where in there, he started to eat cereal & loved it & then started to eat the food that I pureed & love that as well. My boy, he loves to eat.)

(Since I wanted to stop nursing when we were ready & not when my body quit producing, I started a prescription to increase my milk flow - minimal effect, but when I stopped the initial dose, my out put dropped by half - based on the pumping.)

When we went to New York for father's day on the train, when he fussed I was able to comfort him & then he was able to take a nice nap in his stroller.

Then we went to Portland & he refused to nurse in the evening.

We continued to nurse in the mornings, our time, in the dim light, in a quiet warm cocoon. Unless we were interrupted & then he was off seeing what else was happening. & he was hard to relatch especially on his least favorite side.

Then he started to bite. Those three little baby teeth are sharp. (I guess they have to be to get through the gums.)

On Sunday night, while getting him ready for bed, it hit me like a wall of bricks & I bawled. & then I would wipe my tears & smile, so that he would smile & then I would uncontrollably bawl again (this went on for a while - I am crying now recounting it.) I wasn't initially able to express why I was crying when asked. (Some of those were tears of joy, that I have a baby boy who smiles at me & who recently was taken off of his medications because he is healthy.) When I was finally able to express myself fully, I sobbed.

& then yesterday, I listened to him & he weaned me.


I took this photo to remember the moment. This was our last time. He is only 9 months old & I only feel like 1/2 a failure. You see I wanted to nurse him until he was at least a year, and I easily could have been one of "those" mothers. I really wanted the weaning to be mutual.

This morning when we woke him, he had cereal & I choked back the tears. He was happy & went back down for a nap until it was time for him to get ready for day care. I went back to bed & cried into my pillow.


*karendianne. said...

Oh Amy, I wish I knew what to say. I'm certain there are so many words of comfort that can be offered but as I'm not a mother I can only say this. Thank you for sharing your raw, true emotions. Being a Mother is for the truly courageous and strong.

All my heartfelt Love, *karendianne.

Sharkeysday said...

My daughter "fired" me at 8 mos. - the good news is my son had a deep desire to take my breast to college - so kids vary.
However, good for you for listening to your child - I know it's hard, but you did your best! :)

Miri said...

You're a good Mommy-you listen to your kid.:)

I definitely think weaning is harder on the mother than the baby-whenever it happens-because we know it means they're growing up-a milestone reached.

Shelli said...

I'm sorry sweetie - what a tough road! I only wish more hospitals give out the La Leche League numbers right off the bat!

You never know, he may try to suckle every so often, just for comfort.

Noah Matan has never known the breast, and yet STILL will find comfort in my chest.

I know I'll never understand the grief of weaning, but I do understand that it is emotional. And I send love.

Not Lucy said...

First of all, you are not even 1% a failure! You are a wonderful mother. You have and will continue to give your child your best and that is all any mom can do.

Nursing until your little one tells you it is time to stop is the best anyone can do. Listening to your baby in this will help you listen to him for many years to come because unfortunately you cannot always have what you want for them. Sometimes you have to let them make the choices.

Giving him all your love you now will help him to know that you are always there for him to come back to for comfort whether he falls and skins his knee or breaks up with his first girlfriend.

Remember to look at the big picture and the ultimate goal of creating an amazing adult!

Lots of love! Alicia

Chris@Cats On My Quilts said...

Do not blame yourself for one minute. My first born, my son who is 31 yo now, was the same way with nursing. I tried and tried like you did, he was not gaining weight, and then at about 8 months old he had it and he refused to nurse anymore. I felt like a failure. He is now a strapping 6'4" and a father of his own 2 sons. It all turns out well.

Then my second child came along, a daughter who is now 28 yo, and she took to nursing like a champ. I was doing nothing different from the first time but she just "got it". She nursed for 18 months.

So it's not you. Children just seem to decide for themselves what they want and there's nothing you can do about it and you will definitely find that out as the years go along!

Carin said...

Amy you should never feel like a failure when you listen to your child! It is very hard when they decide to ween. You are an amazing mom, there is no right or wrong when it comes to kids don't let anyone tell you different. If 9 months is right for your son then its right if its 2 years its 2 years its whats right for your child.

The thing I was looking forward to the most with my youngest was the chance to breast feed him, he was preemie and had digestive problems so I pumped for as long as I could but he was never willing to breast feed. I understand your feelings of loss.

HUGS and much love Carin

Mama Koch said...

You are not a have listened to your baby and done what's best for him. You and him will be just fine. I think you've done a wonderful job so far and have climbed some great hurdles together.
Keep up the good work!

SewCalGal said...

You are a wonderful mother and really doing all the right things. Remember hormones run rampant during this time, so do take care of yourself and also chat with your doctor about what you are feeling. But, you are a wonderful mother...truly!


hetty said...

Sucking milk from a bottle is a lot easier than taking it from a breast! You are an amazing mother! You listen to your child and you listen to your heart. Just let those tears flow. This is a special time, both for you and your son. And don't forget the hormones! There are always hormones to content with. I love the photo! I know you will cherish it always.

Quiltdivajulie said...

I so wanted to be one of "those" moms ~ I understand some of your feelings. Our oldest couldn't get enough milk from the beginning and, at only a few weeks, I was fired and he became a thriving bottle baby. Today's he's 31, married, strong, and healthy ... I know Jacob has a very good mommy who will do what is best for him (even when it is hard for her). Hugs from afar!

dee said...

Oh Honey, I just want to come and give you the biggest hug. Don't dispare. There will be so many other Mommy moments ahead for you and Jacob. Hormones are a horrible thing to deal with and we are just a prisoner of them sometimes.
James was a preemie. We had to wake him to eat every 3 hours until he reached a certain weight. Check my blog for evidence of the results after 25 years. The nurse(I'll call her Ratchet) told me to flick his feet hard to keep him awake. I couldn't do it. I think he's a gentler soul for it.
Sending you big cyber hugs and thinking of you so fondly today. Motherhood is not for wimps.

Diana said...

As everyone above has said, babies are all different and it's important to listen to your own and respond to his needs. You are not a failure if you are giving your baby what he needs! From your pictures he looks like an amazingly happy, healthy little one with lots of energy and curiosity.

Finn said...

Oh Amy, that is so very hard to hear. I know you were doing everyt thing you could think of and trying to get it exactly right. In life the exactly right seems to come in many sizes and colors. DD#2, who had Levi in February has had almost an identical experience including an emergency C-section. There was failure to thive due to lack of milk, she tried so,so very hard, as I know you have.
It's the moments like this that breaks our hearts as moms. I think you've done a super job with your baby and he's gorgeous to boot. Sending big hugs, Finn

Sheridan said...

You poor thing. Plans, huh? I don't think any of my 'plans' for kids have worked out the way I wanted them too. Very hard to accept, but you should know that you have done a marvellous job to nurse him for this long. A gold star for you today, even if the tears keep washing it away.

Jessica said...

Oh Amy. (*big hug)
you're not a failure. You love your son. you're a good mom.


Mary said...

I understand that it's incredibly important to some mom's to breast feed. I'm a nurse who chose to bottle feed both of my boys. They grew up healthy, happy, and are wonderful young men living on their own. I hate to see anyone feeling like a failure for either failing to breast feed or failing to breast feed long enough... trust me as a parent you will have plenty of opportunities to be a failure ...this isn't one of them.

Do the best you can for the next 20 years ...he'll turn out fine.

gwensmom said...

Gwen lost interest in nursing at 5 months and to tell you the truth I was glad. She had a lot of other health problems and I was exhausted. It still amazes me to remember how much making milk spas your energy.

It is good to hear that Jacob is doing well and is healthy. That is a blessing in itself.

Chocolate Cat said...

When you look at that gorgeous little smiling face there is not a chance that you are a failure in any way shape or form. You have a healthy happy baby who is that way because you perservered and nursed when it would of been so easy to stop a long time ago. Being a mother isn't easy, there is no instruction manuel and all babies are different. Be proud of what you have achieved! and give that beautiful baby an extra big cuddle!

Ms. Jan said...

Don't be so tough on yourself, Amy. It is so much more about what you do for the next 18 years that matter more, and I think you're doing fine. Jacob knows his mommy loves him, and what more could a child want?

Linda said...

You are NOT a failure - Jacob is an individual and exercising will continue to do your best mothering with him.....and he will be just fine........don't be toooo hard on yourself.

Quilter Kathy said...

I remember this struggle very well. I feel for you and know how difficult it is. But you have worked so hard and done such a great job for so long. Your dedication is inspiring. Listening to your kid and meeting their needs is soooo hard (even when they're grown up and going to university!)

Mama Spark said...

I remember that same feeling but mine happened much sooner for the first one. She was not the best nurser (gross understatement) and we were both miserable. Then number 2 and 3 were just fantastic at it and it was much better.

Jody of Because I'm Me said...

Hugs, hugs, hugs to you. You did great, really truly you did.

Ann said...

Thanks for sharing your personal anguish in your story. My experience was very similar, and I know your heartache. I have only one lovely daughter, and it all happened nearly 13 years ago, but your story brought it back like it was yesterday!
You did the very best you could! Congratulations and keep on going, Ann.