Monday, November 22, 2010

You can go the distance...

...we'll find out
in the long run
in the long run
-The Eagles, The Long Run

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving, Day #22. I'm thankful that I was able to nurse Luke exclusively for 9 months.

This post is *exactly* the reason I've been doing the Thirty Days of Thanksgiving. Had I not been thinking thankfully, I would have made this a whiny, woe-is-me, I-have-to-feed-my-kid-formula kind of post. But I am turning it around to say how grateful I am to have made it a full 9 months.

You see, with Jay, I had more milk than I knew what to do with. He never got the hang of nursing, so I pumped exclusively and had a huge supply. The land of milk and honey? I was livin' it. Bought an extra freezer to store it all in. Lost close to 100 oz in a freezer incident, and it didn't even bother me. He never nursed, but he got nothing but my milk for more than a year.

With Luke, it's been just the opposite. He figured out the nursing routine the very first time I held him. Breastfeeding has been an easy and wonderful thing. But it's been much more challenging to have enough pumped milk to feed him when we're apart. Stress this summer and fall didn't help my supply either, and my freezer stash slowly but surely dwindled away.

The last straw was last week when I spent a night away from him. There simply wasn't enough for that time apart, so he switched to formula. And I have been able to spend a little less time with the pump. Initially, I was pretty bummed about it. I felt guilty for not being able to give him the perfect baby food. I felt even more guilty because I managed to do it for Jay and couldn't for Luke. (Those poor second kids!) If only I'd pumped a little more early on to build up a freezer stash. If only I'd pumped more often while I sat in the ICU. If only I'd worked a little harder at it...

But the truth is that making it this far is a huge accomplishment, and I am proud of what I've been able to do. Nine months is a long time. I'm still nursing him in the mornings and at night, and I'm grateful for the fact that I can do something for him that no one else can. But I'm also grateful that I can spend a little less time with my dear friend Medela.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Honestly, I hate the pressure and the competition between moms. I can promise you, there are no awards at the end. Instead of tearing each other's self-esteem down with "I'd never use disposable diapers, I'd never give my baby formula, of course it's organic...", let's congratulate and support each other for our successes. ANY breastmilk is FANTASTIC. Going six months is PHENOMINAL, and knowing when you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of your children - well that's what makes you the best mother! You did a great job and you should be proud!!

Dorothy said...

I know just how you feel. My freezer has only 20 oz left, so last week I tried formula for Corinne. She did fine. It is weird because Alyssa did not nurse, and I had enough for her and Becca.

Jamie Blackburn said...

I so agree with momsplural. I realize I don't know what it's like to be a mom, but I know so many people who beat themselves up for not being able to breastfeed, or who are upset that they had to have a c-section instead of their planned home birth without any meds. The fact of it is that you have to take care of yourself to be able to take care of your children, and if that means spending more time with your family and less time pumping, than good for you for realizing that. And congrats for making it 9 months! That is such an amazing accomplishment, even more so with all the stress you were under these past few months.