When I first thought about breastfeeding, I couldn’t comprehend why women described it as being so challenging – physically and emotionally.
After the first night of breastfeeding Noah, I suddenly understood everything.
To read more about my experience during the beginning of this journey, check out my post Breastfeeding During the First Week
There were many days where I thought “I just can’t do this anymore. I’m exhausted. I wish I could give him a bottle like everyone else, and relax my arms for a bit. I wish I didn’t have to pump anymore. I wish I didn’t have to isolate myself multiple times per day to go breastfeed or pump in the nursery. I wish I didn’t have to plan my day around Noah’s feeding schedule. It would be so much easier to pack a bottle and be on the go. If I stopped breastfeeding, I would be so much happier.”
I lasted 3.5 months breastfeeding and supplementing with formula.
My sanity was being affected.
I was not happy.
I was exhausted – physically and emotionally – just like other moms had described this process.
More importantly, my baby was not happy with my breast milk.
His belly would hurt from the gas pains, and he’d scream and cry.
As much as I complained, I wasn’t ready to let go of the breastfeeding journey. I had it set in my mind that this was best for my baby, and that I would breastfeed for at least one year. So what did I do?
I cut out most dairy, which helped. But any time I would eat vegetables, or the littlest bit of dairy, he would still have those horrible gas pains.
Then I started back on birth control, and my milk supply dropped drastically. Any time I fed him, I knew I’d have to have a bottle ready, because he just wasn’t getting enough milk from me.
I tried lactation cookies.
I tried drinking more water.
I tried adding different supplements.
I tried power pumping.
Nothing worked. Nothing.
My heart was shattered.
I loved bonding with my baby during those moments.
I had taken all of it for granted.
Every aspect of it.
Each time I thought about stopping breastfeeding, the tears started to flow.
Even as I’m writing this, my eyes are filled with tears and sadness.
I miss it. So much.
It’s something I didn’t think I would miss.
But that desire to breastfeed is still there.
At one point, I was still trying to pump, when only 1/4 of an ounce would come out of each breast. I was not ready to let go. If I pumped more, my body would produce more, right? It HAD to.
It was one day when I put Noah on my breast to feed, and he completely rejected it. He turned his head, would not latch, and became super unhappy with me trying to force it. Babies are smart. He knew there wasn’t much milk in me. As soon as I gave him the bottle, he started drinking right away.
That moment was the moment I knew I had to let go.
I wasn’t ready.
But it was time.
The tears are no longer welled up in my eyes – they are streaming down my face as I write this. The guilt of not being able to keep up with my baby’s feeding demands are with me heavily.
Am I not good enough? Is something wrong with my body? I wanted to breastfeed for at LEAST one year. Why did this happen? What could I have done differently?
I knew I needed to do something special with my last breastfeeding days.
As a photographer, pictures are extremely meaningful to me. I knew I wanted photos of me breastfeeding. I knew I would cherish them forever. I wanted to remember these moments that I will never get back with my baby.
So I asked my fiancé, Joe, to capture the ending of this chapter.
He did not understand my request, but he lovingly did so anyway.
It means more to me than he will ever be able to comprehend.
The stream of tears has now turned into a river of gratitude as I write this.
I am so thankful for those moments.
I am so thankful for Joe’s willingness to capture this transition.
And now, I’d like to share my very last breastfeeding moments with you.
These are so special to me, and bring me such joy.
Just remembering that bonding time with my baby.
Now that I’ve ended my breastfeeding chapter, I can more fully appreciate those 3.5 months. I can share with new moms what I would have done differently. I can also stay present with my baby while I hold him and feed him a bottle. I did what was best for both of us. He no longer has gas pains, or cries from the belly aches. He is the happiest baby!
Here are my Mindfulness Momma TIPS:
If you are still breastfeeding, look into your baby’s eyes while they feed. Gaze at the beautiful miracle you created. Put the phone aside and be fully present more often than not. Take pictures and videos. I know it might sound a little silly, but I have a few videos of Noah breastfeeding, and it is so soothing to witness what that experience was like. I would also have someone else take photos of you feeding your baby as well. These photos don’t need to be shared with anyone, but I promise that one day, you will love looking back on them. Don’t wait until the very last moments like I did.
If you have ended your breastfeeding journey, stay present with your baby. You can still connect with them, and cuddle with them while they feed. Your perspective is everything now. There is still so much beauty to be witnessed in time spent with your little one.
No matter what stage you’re in, the bond with your baby can never be broken.
Focus on what you can experience with them NOW.
What were some of your thoughts as you ended your breastfeeding journey?