During my last pregnancy I set lofty goals for myself postpartum. I was going to breastfeed until my daughter was one-year-old, without the need of supplementing. My first two breastfeeding experiences were less than successful in my own eyes. Daughter #1 was 5 weeks early and I was not at all prepared for the ins and outs of nursing, and with working full time, I quickly started supplementing and stopped breastfeeding within the first couple of months. Daughter #2 was exclusively breastfed for a couple of months until I went back to work part-time and needed to supplement. My goal was to breastfeed until she was 6-months-old. We made it to that milestone and then my pumping couldn’t keep up and I turned to formula only.
Before getting pregnant with daughter #3, I became a stay-at-home-mom and was excited about the chance to figure out how to make breastfeeding, and only breastfeeding, work for an entire year. I didn’t even come close to that.
The week that my daughter was born, my husband accepted a new job in a new city. We knew that this meant we would try to sell our house and move our family closer to his work, but I was convinced that it wouldn’t be a big deal to make that transition as a new family of 5. Then the stress of life started to happen. Not only did I need to keep my 5-year-old and 3-year-old from tearing up our house before showings, but I had to make sure that timings worked out well with nursing my 2-week-old.
I also developed an awful split nipple. If you’ve ever have one, you’ll understand the agony that they cause. I forced myself to deal with the pain even though the split was as wide as my pinky nail. I searched the internet, talked to friends and strangers, and tried everything that I could think of to heal that darn thing. Nothing was working. After 5 weeks of suffering, I finally showed my doctor and she recommended that I stop nursing and exclusively pump that side until it heals. I took her advice and added pumping to my routine as I was trying to pack our house, juggle three kids, and not lose my sanity.
The split wasn’t healing. After a week of continuing to treat it and pumping, it looked the exact same. And my pumping wasn’t enough to satisfy my hungry little girl. I immediately tried brewer’s yeast, and everything that I found to help my supply increase, but then a little voice inside of me told me to stop the madness. I was making myself go crazy because I was trying to juggle it all….. the 3 kids, moving, packing, the emotions of all of those, etc. etc. etc. Nobody can juggle it all.
When I first realized that the quickest way to ease my stress was to stop breastfeeding, I started bawling. That wasn’t my plan. I wanted to give my baby the best. And since I was a stay-at-home-mom, why couldn’t I figure out how to nurse her and manage everything? I decided that I had to open up and expose myself. Immediately, I started getting advice from friends that I admired on my dilemma. Not a single person told me that I was a failure for thinking about switching to formula. I put that title on myself. I did. Everybody told me that I knew what was best for our family and if formula was the answer, then okay! Nobody belittled me, or made me feel like a horrible mom. Yet, I agonized for days on end before finally coming to a final decision.
I stopped nursing my baby just shy of 2-months-old. It’s still bittersweet, but I don’t regret the stress that I took away from myself. Even though my daughter has been drinking formula for 4 months, she’s still a happy little girl that loves her mommy. And I’m forever grateful that I didn’t let my lofty goals get in the way of what was truly best for my family.