15 November 2012

The End of an Era

It's with a heavy heart {and many tears} that I write this post, as I did not come to this decision lightly {by any stretch of the imagination}...

I have decided to quit breastfeeding.

Now, I know how heated this topic can be, and I hope that you are able to read this respectfully.  Part of me wanted to skip this post altogether, but that's not fair either.  It's not fair to me and it's not fair to all the other moms out there that have had similar issues and feel they can't talk about it for fear of others passing harsh judgement. And, while that may be true {and there's really nothing I can do about that}, I know in my heart that I have made the best decision for my family. And really?  That's all that matters to me.

***

Short Story:

Due to Reid's reflux issues and constant projectile vomiting after every nursing session, I decided to quit breastfeeding in order to develop a more consistent schedule for him. Going from breastfeeding, to formula and breast milk mixed bottles, and back again just wasn't working anymore and the one who was suffering at the end of the day, was poor little Reid.

***

Long Story:

7 weeks.  That's how long I made it.  However, it was probably around the 5 week mark that I started questioning things.  Questioning the longevity of our breastfeeding relationship.  Questioning how much longer Reid could really handle it.  How much longer I could handle it.

But I just. couldn't. quit.  I couldn't help but think that we were almost over the hill.  And I didn't want to quit for fear that it would get better the very next day. Because that's how these things work.

So I nursed on. And while I knew I wasn't really all that happy about how things were going, I wanted to continue.  It had to get better.  It had to get easier.  It just did.

Sure, I had issues with breastfeeding, in general.  I was always going to be the only one feeding the baby {for the most part.} I was always going to have to pump. I was always going to have that engorged feeling every few hours that made me feel sick to my stomach. I was always going to have the crazy hormones that come with breastfeeding that made me feel less like myself than pregnancy ever had.

Of course, those things were managable to me and really only 2% of my breastfeeding issues.

The other 98%?  Reflux.

No matter what I did, Reid was always going to spit up my breast milk. It was just way too thin and his little sensitive belly couldn't take it.  No diet changes in the world {and trust me, I tried} were going to help him.  Even though he was on medication for his reflux, he continued to spit up and projective vomit after every feeding. Which, in turn, would make him hungry a lot sooner and the cycle of nursing him almost constantly continued.

And it made me lose my mind. I felt frustrated and anxious and overly emotional and stressed.

Breastfeeding is not easy.  Breastfeeding a reflux baby is even harder. But breastfeeding a reflux baby that spits up {what seems like} all that he eats and wants to nurse non-stop all while taking care of three kids? Nearly impossible.

One Friday afternoon, I hit my breaking point...  Carter came up to me, gave me a hug and asked me why I was so sad all the time.

And it was then, that I knew.  I just couldn't do this anymore.

I felt like I was missing out on so many precious moments.  This wonderful bonding experience wasn't all that bonding.  Reid was attached to me almost constantly, yet I felt like I was missing time with him. Precious time that I would never, ever get back. Missing time with Carter and Brynn who could see {and tell me!} that the same mommy that they fell in love with, was no more.  She was gone, and in return, they got this stressed out crazy person instead.

And then I had to rethink my priorities.  Why did I feel the need to continue?  Sure, in theory, it was the best thing for Reid. But was it?  Was it the best thing for him when he would constantly spit up? Was it the best thing for him when he would always feel hungry?  Was it the best thing for him to have a mom that was unhappy for these very reasons?

Of course not.

For the first time, I took emotions out of it and was thinking logically about this.  After 2 weeks of going back and forth about quitting and having people tell me that it was okay to quit, I knew it had to be me, and me alone, to decide that it really was okay. It had to be me to decide that I was ready.

And I was.  I was finally ready.

So, in following the rule "never quit on a bad day" I pressed on that Friday afternoon.  I continued to nurse Reid every hour, clean spit up off of both of us and nurse him again. All through the day and night, I nursed on.

And on Saturday morning, around 10am, I had my very last nursing session with him.  I knew it would be my last session before it even began.  It was wonderful and something that I will forever cherish.

When he was done, he looked up at me, smiled, and then projectile vomited through his nose.

And I knew I was making the right decision.

Reid needed consistency at this point so that we could figure out how to address his reflux issues and I knew it would be selfish of me to continue on like this. 

I had a talk with Reid that morning.  It was a good talk.  It went something like this...
That last picture gets me every time.  Because, you know what?  He does love me no matter what.  And at the end of the day, I need to do what's best for him.  For us.

Since switching to a formula especially made for reflux babies, we have seen quite a difference!  Although Reid is still spitting up, it has dramatically decreased and he hasn't projectile vomited one time since we stopped nursing.

And while I wish breastfeeding would have worked out for us {and not a day goes by that I don't miss some aspects of it} I know that I have made the right decision.  It took me several weeks to even get to a point where I was comfortable with quitting.  But once the initial difficulty passed {both emotionally and physically... OUCH!} there was no doubt in my mind that it was the best decision for our family and I'm happy in knowing that I did the very best that I could.

I think we're all a little happier now, actually.

46 comments:

Actuary Mom said...

Big hug to you! Sounds like it was the right decision for you and your baby!

Elaine A. said...

I know ALL these feelings. It sounds like you are at peace with it and i know you have definitely made the right decision for him and you all. Hugs to you and here's to a new and less stressful start! xo

MommaM said...

Big hugs for you. I know that's a tough/heartbreaking decision, but it sounds like the right one for the little guy's sake!

He's absolutely adorable, by the way. :)

Mandy@ a sorta fairytale said...

We have already talks about this, but I will say it again.... You can Only make the decision that is right for you and your family! Reid is healthy and everyone is happier, that's all that matters! xoxo

Laura said...

Congrats on doing what is right for you and your baby. It sounds like it was definitely the right choice in your situation. I made it 6 weeks exclusively pumping, I know how hard the decision can be...but you also know formula kids come out just fine too! I really hope his reflux gets better soon.
And thanks for making me laugh in the middle of such a serious post when you looked into his eyes, and he started projectile vomiting. ;)

Jill @BabyRabies said...

So much love to you!

jajb79 said...

Right on mama!!!

OrangeHeroMama said...

Great post! It is YOUR decision 100%, YOU know what's best for yourself and your baby! ((hugs))

I absolutely ADORE the conversation pics!! lol.

And I know the struggle of 'to write or not to write'..I'm in a bit of a hard place right now and i can't write about it, because family reads my blog :( I wish i was able to get my readers opinions!!

Lynn Read said...

Big hugs for you. I cried for hours when my son quit breastfeeding and felt like a huge failure for months. I dreaded the monthly check up after we quit, having to tell the nurse. Ugh. I still feel guilty sometimes. Like every time he catches a cold I think it's my fault for not breastfeeding longer. (Seriously, I know how crazy it sounds.)

I love that there is so much support for breastfeeding now, but I feel like it sometimes crosses a line into feelings of judgement and guilt.

Good for you making the tough choice to stop and doing what's best for you baby. And thank you so much for sharing a post on such a sensitive subject. :)

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain, it is awful to have to make that decision but I too had a reflux baby that couldn't tolerate breast milk, once I made the heart wrenching switch we were both SO much happier. In fact now I kick myself for sticking it out so long. Don't beat yourself up, you do what is best for your baby and you!

Jenn said...

All that matters is that your baby is fed, and that you are all happy! Whatever method works best for you is the best decision for your family. A good mama would keep breastfeeding for the sake of doing "what's best", but a GREAT mama would stand up for her child and actually do what is best.

The BOAT said...

Great post...this is one of those issues that affects a lot of people. I had 2 separate breastfeeding issues with both babies and even now I look back and wonder if I should have done something differently each time. Both got some breastmilk, O was nursed exclusively for 4 days, then got one bm bottle and the rest formula bottles for 8 weeks (my milk just never came in all the way). B was nursed for 2 weeks, then got all bm bottles and 1 formula bottle for 7 weeks. Guess what, both are happy, and somewhat healthy....and life goes on. I'm sure Bob, Carter, and Brynn are all excited to help make bottles and feed Reid, and Mama can sit back and watch. If you need to talk, I'm here.

Molly said...

Jenni - you did AMAZING! I am surprised with all the issues you lasted seven weeks. I quit with Landon at four weeks after being a total basketcase!

You totally made the right decision. Really, you did. Reid will be happier. You will be happier. Your family will be happier.

Celebrate the fact that you tried your best and you made it that far.

((Hugs)) I know very well how emotional quitting can be.

Karen said...

Great post! Good for you for making it 7 weeks! Love the pictures of him! He is adorable and looks so happy!

Beth Anne said...

huzzah! You are doing what is best for you & your baby & your family & that is something to be proud of.

You are doing other mommas out there a world of service by telling your story.

Sarah said...

From one projectile vomit momma to another...I feel your pain!! Our first was like that and it was AWFUL! I gave up dairy for a year and she still vomited until about 5 months. No fun at all. Im so glad you made a decision that was right for you, for your son and for your family. Don't let anyone tell you any differently. You know best! Thanks for sharing!

Olivia's Mommy said...

I breastfeed Olivia for a week. Then because I was so sick after having her and I went back in the hospital I was forced to stop and it the first time I gave her a bottle I cried and she guzzled the thing back like she was staving. It just didn't work for us, we tried, but then once I was hospitalized, I had to take care of me to get better to be there for her. Believe me I always wish I could have done more, but we put so many pressures on ourselves that it's just so crazy. And please no worries what others have to say, until you walk a mile in someone's shoes you should never judge. One thing I have learned more and more as a Mom, I never say never and I never judge! Your going to have a happier baby and family. It's interesting that Carter said that, Olivia will say things like that, call you out on things, and it takes a 4 year old to say something that your like OMG, see they are smart little ones! Good job Jenni, your an awesome Momma...now enjoy having Bob help with the feedings!

Shannon S-G said...

Good for you for giving it a shot and realizing your priorities and your limits! Here's to happier and happier days :)

Jessica Gibson said...

Oh Jenni, you are a wonderful, wonderful mother! As much as we know that breastfeeding is what's best for our babies (most of the time), we should also know that as a community us mommas need to love and support one another. No matter how we choose to feed our babies. That said, I know to an extent how you feel. The guilt is AWFUL! We had issues and now are doing formula and breast milk together, and it took me a long time to be comfortable with that. Hugs momma. You are right, he will always love you no matter what!

Lisa Frame said...

Babe, you've got to what's best for you and him. xoxo

NC said...

I went through this exact situation with my little guy who is two days older than Reid. It is a heartbreaking decision but at the end of the day, You do what's best for you an your baby. I'm so glad to hear Reid is doing better. Thank you for giving a voice to mommas dealing with these tough decisions

Love, Chelsea said...

You are a kick ass mama and I'm so glad Reid is doing better with the special formula. Nothing worse than barfing all the time!

ana {bluebirdkisses} said...

I don't comment all the time but I wanted to today. I don't think you should EVER EVER EVER feel bad about your parenting decisions!! and it makes me sad that you, me and other mom's ever feel like we have to justify our decisions to other people. The truth is that life throws us curve balls sometimes and its how we deliver on them that matters. Breastfeeding is great but its not the end-all-be-all. I nursed J for a year and I felt so guilty stopping...not because of him and I but because I felt I would be judged...omg how ridic is that?!?! There are mom's who nurse for years and they are terrilble moms...case in point the spanish lady last summer who was nursing her daughter while having a smoke...for reals. You need to do what's best for you. You're an amazing mom and that's all that you need to know.

Social said...

No judgment here! We all know you want what is best for your son! We have all been through tough choices as a parent. I hated to stop nursing my daughter, but she wasn't getting enough and didn't like to mix breast milk & formula. So, we had to pick the one there was plenty of....formula. Nursing was beautiful for the 9 months it lasted. But, I soon learned there were other ways for me to bound w/my daughter. Now...to this day, I still miss that bounding time, but you do what you need to do when your children's health is at stake! Good for you, Mom!!

Anne Marie said...

I stopped after 7 months because I finally got tired of doing some breastmilk/some formula bottles and it was just emotionally draining. Good for you for doing what was best for you and your baby! That's what's most important after all!

Anonymous said...

Omg Jenni! When I started reading this I thought you were going to say you decided to stop blogging! That scared me for a second. Listen, you absolutely made the right decision for you and your baby. Please don't ever feel guilty for that. Happy mama=happy baby! Hugs to you for going through this.

Laura said...

Thanks for posting this and being honest. It's sad you even have to ask for respect, or that people view your choices respectfully, but 'tis the world we live in. Way to go, 7 weeks! I went 8 with my son...not nursing, but EPing...and we stopped for different reasons. But the reasons don't really matter. You tried, you succeeded for 7 weeks, and now? You're all happier. Which rocks, if you ask me. :)

Meredith @ eatdrinkrunandbemommy said...

Hugs Jenni! I learned with my little bit that what you feel is right is always right. I had a reflux baby too (no projectile) but constant nursing and feeding. It was rough so I totally understand. Good luck and you made the right decision for you and your family.

Jessica said...

Well said! I'm glad you are doing what works for REID and YOU. That's what matters. He gained a lot from the time that you did breastfeed him so pat yourself on the back for that! I know all of the feelings you're going through all to well other than dealing with reflux so I can only imagine. Good luck with formula and I hope his reflux eases up soon!

genevieve said...

Good for you for doing what is best for baby and mama. Currently just 16 weeks pregnant, but as an almost first-time mom, this honesty is VITAL for me. Thank you for choosing to share this with your readers. x and o

Lisa.Covino said...

Hi Jenni,

I recently stopped breastfeeding my 7 week old daughter. It was the best decision for both of us. Not an easy one to make, but we are both better for it.

Sounds like you made the right decision for you and Reid as well. :)

Kat Biggie said...

I think you made a great decision! I know it was difficult, but as you figured out, sometimes what seems like the best thing isn't! It's so strange how difficult breast feeding can be when it's the way things are supposed to be... crazy! Glad you are all happier now!

Fran said...

Jenni - I know you thought long and hard before making your decision - and the bottom line is... moms know what is best for their babies.

I, too, had a child with major reflux issues...although he is now 34 years old! I just wish I (and the docs) knew then what they know now.

Just FYI - if the projectile vomiting continues... I have recently begun chiropractic treatment for some back/shoulder issues.... and have been amazed that my chiropractor treats infants and children. I am attaching a link... and after watching it - you might find such a doctor where you live. I wish I had had the option for my son all those years ago.

Keep up the good work. I love your blog.

http://www.americanownews.com/story/19986967/taking-infants-and-toddlers-to-the-chiropractor#.UJl9_OHXaY0.facebook

Samantha J. said...

I completely understand how you are feeling... I just gave up nursing my second baby this week because I was hospitalized for mastitis. I still miss it at times, but honestly I just keep reminding myself it's better for our family. Only you can make the decision for you and don't let others make you question your decision. I keep telling myself that the baby is happier, I'm happier and that's what matters.
I'm glad you guys are doing better now! =)

Tessa B said...

Jenni, both of my kids were major spitters, especially Kendall. We tried everything! Formula, 3 different meds, had ultrasounds and upper GIs done, etc. The only thing that worked was time. Around 9-10 months she grew out of it. It's so stressful when you're worried they're not getting any nutrition. That, and messy! ;) I'm glad you found something that is working for you.

juliane2004 said...

So happy for you :)

Charis's Mum said...

I will not criticize you. Yes, I loved breastfeeding my daughter, but YOU are his mother and if someone has a problem with your decision, it's NONE of their concern. You know what's best for both of you.

mel said...

Thank you for posting this! Breastfeeding Lexie after the first few weeks was easy, she latched she ate; she was my only concern (being our first) so I wasn't worried about the frequency but she rarely got sick- I can't imagine what this had to have been like for you!!!!

I think it's good to let people know that while "breastfeeding is best" it isn't always....

brit said...

Thank you for writing this post! I have a very similar story with Torin (reflux baby), but I stuck with it for 4 months. Not because it got any better/easier, but because I was too afraid to quit. Too caught up in the "breast is best" theory, and fear that if I formula fed (gasp!) that I would be doing him a disservice. At the time I felt very alone because I didn't know any women with similar stories, only women with very beautiful, successful stories. So while your story can't help me now (He's 21 months old!) I'm sure it will help some other woman who's feeling alone right now!

Sarah said...

This is such a fabulous post Jenni and I think a lot of mom's can relate to this. Thank you so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I hate that you had to spend an entire post justifying why you quit. I am extremely pro-breastfeeding but it seemed as though it didn't work out in your case. I am glad that you can feed him formula and he is fine. Sometimes, even formula does not help with sensitive tummies. Don't feel bad about it at all, you really tried, and did an excellent job.

Kim said...

Thanks for your candor and honesty about this issue...Must have been a tough decision to make, but you are doing a great job and doing right by your child.
Wishing you & your fam a happy Thanksgiving!
Kim
West Chester PA

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Anonymous said...

"When he was done, he looked up at me, smiled, and then projectile vomited through his nose."

This made me LOL. I am glad you are doing what is right for you and your LO. Best of luck!

Sarah Halstead said...

Sorry I am late, just wanted to say good for you for making the right decision for Reid and your family. I know it wasn't easy but glad he is doing better now. xoxo

Vanessa said...

Hi Jenni,
I have just recently found your blog but I remember you from the Bump as I was pregnant at the same time as you with Abigail (and now we are both expecting again, more or less at the same time).
Anyway, I love your blog and I love this post. It is rare for people to be honest about their breastfeeding difficulties and it is so important and good that you shared yours - thank you. I found breastfeeding tremendously difficult. I could endure the pain (and I found it very painful) but the moment I would take Abigail off the breast she would wail and show signs of hunger. I know she was getting something, but I don't think it was enough, and seeing her scream with hunger just broke my heart. It made me a nervous wreck and I just couldn't enjoy the first few weeks of her life. After 10 days I decided to give her formula exclusively, and we were both so much happier. I agonised about the decision, I felt sad and guilty, but I knew that while I breastfed her neither of us was happy. I know I made the right decision, though it took me a long time to come to terms with it as I had so wanted to breastfeed. But Abigail continued to be a big eater and thrived, and I still feel an incredible bond with her.
Sometimes only you know what is right for you and your baby.
Now that I am expecting again I feel very conflicted about breastfeeding, not sure I want to try, how to go about things differently. I hope that with time I'll have clarity and confidence to give it another shot. If you have any thoughts and have a moment to share them I'd love to hear.
Thanks again for sharing your story!
Vanessa

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