Theodore is almost six months old and I am still nursing him. This has not been an easy choice or an easy road and I'm proud of myself for making it as long as I have. Especially considering that my job requires me to be away from him for 20 hours at a time, 3-4 days a week, which means A LOT of pumping.
I. Hate. Pumping. (on the floor in the corner of a conference room ... you get the picture).
I have noticed a decrease in my supply recently but so far, I am still able to make enough milk for him. I pump exactly what he is eating now, give or take an ounce here and there. It has been stressful to see my supply decline, but since our freezer is halfway full of frozen milk, I guess it's good that I'm not producing so much excess now.
Initially my goal was to nurse until I went back to work. Once I made it 12 weeks, I decided to aim for 6 months. Now that I am close to making it 6 months, I want make it to the 1 year mark. I am skeptical that my milk supply will last, but that's the goal.
Some days I think I've made it this far, why not just give it up? It would certainly make life easier in some ways. I wouldn't have to lug this HEAVY bag back and forth every day and be held hostage to the annoying plastic apparatus and whiny motor for 20 minutes at a time. I wouldn't have to worry about what people are going to think if I have to (or choose to) nurse my baby in public. But then, when it's not so stressful, I can't see giving this up while it is still an option. I feel like I would be robbing my baby of something he loves. Not to mention the cost savings, which has been a big motivator.
On the whole choosing to breastfeed or not to breastfeed note ... I'll apologize in advance if this is offensive. I'm annoyed by the idea of people saying they couldn't breastfeed if they didn't really try. If you choose not to breastfeed, fine. I can understand that. It's not easy. Say you chose not to breastfeed. I don't judge anyone for that. If you have a medical reason why you cannot do it, fine. I understand that too. Before I had Theodore, I always said I was going to "try" to breastfeed because I knew so few mothers that had successfully nursed their babies for a substantial length of time. I just assumed that he wouldn't latch on or I wouldn't have enough milk. In general, I was pretty pessimistic about breastfeeding.
As I learned more about it, I realized that very few women "can't" breastfeed. After Theodore was born, I learned why so many women don't breastfeed. No pun intended, it SUCKS. At first anyway. I have said and continue to believe that learning to breastfeed, at least for me and Theodore, was more painful and difficult than childbirth. Why? Not because childbirth was easy or painless by any stretch, but the worst of it lasted seconds to minutes. The pain of a baby that isn't latching correctly over and over and over and over 8 to 10 times a day for 3-4 weeks was simply torture. I cried. He cried. I wanted to give up so many nights.
I know for a fact that if I'd had a baby 10 years ago, I would not have stuck with breastfeeding. Being a little older and more mature has certainly made a difference in my determination.
I used nipple shields, breast shelves (or is it shells?), hydrogel pads, ointments, creams, and everything else out there until we got it right.
Now? Now it's effortless. Painless. I'd go as far as to say that I *gasp* enjoy it. No, that's not true...I love it.
I will be really sad if my milk supply dries up before I'm ready to stop nursing. I made the choice to do it and stuck with it when I hated (yes, I know hate is a strong word...I mean it) feeding my son. I felt so guilty for dreading meal times. It makes perfect sense why so many people don't follow through with it, but it is so worth it when you get past the hump.
It might be more bearable if you weren't trying to go over that hump at the same time as the crashing hormones hump (night sweats, anyone?), postpartum recovery hump (2nd degree tears, anyone?), and the sleepless nights (and days) hump. It's enough to make anyone quit breastfeeding, but saying that it was impossible when it was just too hard somehow takes something away from the few that fight through the misery to make it work.