When Hunter was born I knew I wanted to breastfeed. To at least try. I wasn't opposed to formula, and we did end up supplementing with it, but I really wanted to give breastfeeding a try. As with labor and delivery I tried to keep an open mind. I had read enough to know how difficult BFing can be and that sometimes it just doesn't work out. So I didn't set any specific goals beyond giving it a try and hopefully at the very least, getting him that all important colostrum the first few days.
Fortunately Hunter took to it pretty easily and never had a problem going back and forth between the boob and the bottle or the pacifier and the boob. I got lucky. Was it painful? Oh God yes. The first few weeks were very a painful. Was it time consuming? Most definitely. Was it one of the things I'm most proud of? Absolutely. Looking back I think being able to breastfeed helped keep me from the dreaded post partum depression. After having a pretty traumatic delivery and missing the birth of my child (which still upsets me) I think I was ripe to suffer from a bit of PPD. And though I didn't realize it at the time, looking back now I think if breastfeeding hadn't worked out and if I had missed out on that new mother experience as well it could have easily sent me down the PPD path. I needed that to work and thankfully it did.
After I knew that Hunter had no issues with breastfeeding and I got past those first few painful weeks I set mini goals. The first was to make it through my 6 weeks of maternity leave. That flew by in a blink. Then once I started back to work and got into the routine of pumping there I wanted to make it three months, then six months, then nine and finally after nine months I really really really wanted to hit a year. I knew that my milk was playing such a big part in keeping him healthy and growing strong but even more than that I wasn't ready to give up the bonding aspect. Even though it was exhausting always having to be the one to get up with him first thing in the morning to nurse or all the middle of night feedings from the early days, I loved the snuggles. I loved the way he would look in my eyes and smile up at me afterwards. I didn't want to lose that.
The last time I nursed Hunter was 5:30am this past Sunday morning. I had been slowly weaning him now that he's on whole milk. My supply was crap and I was ready to have my body back to myself completely. For close to two years my body has been used to grow and help nourish a little human being. And though it's been one of my greatest accomplishments I was ready to be done. I sat there in the rocker, knowing it was most likely the last time I would be doing that with him and I was okay. I met and even exceeded all of my goals. I made it to a year plus a couple weeks.
This past week I've felt a mix of relief and sadness over the end of our nursing relationship. I love not having to be tied to my pump multiple times of day. I love not waking up with aching, engorged boobs. I love that I no longer have to stress about my supply and how much I'm producing.
But I do miss the snuggles. Hunter is very active and not much of a cuddler at this point in time. He's constantly wanting to go, go, go. When he nursed he was still. He would snuggle. I do miss that. I also miss the convenience of nursing him back to sleep when he wakes up at 5am and getting at least another hour or more of sleep out of him. The bottle doesn't have that affect. In fact I joke that his morning bottle of milk seems to be mixed with Red Bull. I'm also having a harder time putting him down for naps now that I can't nurse him to sleep. And when he gets upset in the middle of the night that is no longer my go-to comfort strategy. So it's been an adjustment.
The past year of breastfeeding was at times, hard, painful and time consuming, but I'm so glad that I did it. That WE did it.