Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nursing and mourning

Asher and I worked hard to learn how to nurse.  It took 4 months and a lot of struggle and disappointment to finally get to the point where he would latch on and get a good amount of milk.  

4 months!  

Sometimes I thought to myself, 'Why am I doing this?!'  

I had initially told myself that I would try for 8 weeks and see.  If we weren't even close, I would count it as a fail and move on.  But I got to 8 weeks and I just couldn't stop trying.  I knew the moment when he would really get it and take off flying was just around the corner, I just needed to hold on a little longer.

One day he did just get it.  I felt so high!  This is it!  But he couldn't do it very often.  He would nurse really well first thing in the morning and then be totally exhausted for the next 2 or 3 feedings.  I had to accept that once a day seemed to be our norm, take it as a win outside my expectations, and move on with our lives.  I had other children to think about, other events happening in my life.  This was my reality.

That was when he was 4 months old.

Asher is now almost 11 months old.  My plan had been to continue nursing him once a day for as long as he wanted to but stop pumping when he turned a year old.  

I have been pumping 8-10 times a day for almost 11 months!

I just wanted to write that in black and white because I feel like that's a really big accomplishment.  Just so you don't think I'm some kind of martyr, I must admit that I would have quit long ago if Asher had been able to take formula.  Don't think I didn't try.  But enough sessions of him puking until every drop of formula was out of his body led me to believe that it was not the best for him.  And I didn't want him to end up in the hospital again.  So, I kept pumping.

Now, here we are.  Almost 11 months.  And for the last week Asher has refused to nurse.  If I try to force it, he bites me.  If you have never pumped 8-10 times a day every day you do not know how tender you're nipples become.  I have had semi-permanent purple and red bruises on them for nearly 11 months.  They do not harden up or become desensitized.  Biting is very painful, even without teeth.

So, now what?  It seems I have come to the end of an era before I was ready for it to end.  I am having to grieve the loss of this thing I have worked so hard to reach.  It is really hard.  The 3rd morning of no nursing I cried.  I'm tearing up as I type this.

I realize that many people cannot understand why this is such a big deal.  Kids grow up, they change, these are things we want to happen, this is part of parenting.  This is true.  Probably the biggest thing for me in the mourning is giving up my expectation of how things would end up.  Letting go of where I thought we'd be.

This parenting thing is hard.


  1. brody nursed happily for 20 months and i still cried when he once signed for nursing (after not really nursing for about a week) and then shook his head no. :( i wanted to go some more! :(:(

    so glad you kept at it despite everything. so glad that you can blog about it. and wow. i hated pumping. so way to go pumping so long; thats amazing!

  2. I'm crying reading it - nursing is such an amazing thing, and you worked SO. HARD. Good job, mama. And hugs. And a tissue.

  3. Pumping and nursing for so long is an amazing accomplishment, and a sacrifice by the whole family. Bless you for working so hard to give Asher a good start. Babies growing up is so bittersweet - nursing is really precious time, and it's sad to see that go. I even cried when I put away the pump. (Never thought *that* would happen.)

  4. Hugs! You have done something amazing for him! He might just be on a nursing strike. Read up on KellyMom or La Leche League. Most kids his age will come out of it and go back to the breast in a few days. It could be that he is teething or something else developmental is going on. Either way, I definitely feel for you and my heart is with you! You are a breastfeeding hero!

  5. I am crying as I read this. Thanks for writing it. My daughter hasn't stopped nursing but I know it is coming and I can't bear the thought. We had trouble, too but only for a month. I am AMAZED by you! Your son is blessed to have a persevering mom. Hugs to you!