When Breastfeeding Comes to an End I Will Cry
By: Sarah Scruggs King
I love you. I love you, not. I love you. I love you, not. I love you! These are my feelings on breastfeeding. Maybe some of you are in the same boat as me. You have a love hate relationship with breastfeeding. Some might have more hate than others. It can be a challenging thing, breastfeeding. We carry our growing child in our bellies for up to nine months. They push, pull and cut their little ways out of our bodies. Ouch! Then our bodies create the fuel, the life source for these little humans. Our bodies are able to produce the vitamin rich milk for our babies. That is the beautiful side to breastfeeding. Mothers are the life line. What a miraculous thing. Then there is the reality of it all. Engorged breasts, clogged ducts, mastitis, uncontrollable leaking, latching issues, tongue ties, over supply of milk, lack of milk supply…there are countless things that one might consider to be cons in the realm of breastfeeding. Maybe this is why a percentage of mothers choose to never breastfeed. I am totally not knocking that choice. My motto is, “You do what works for you.” And if not breastfeeding works for you, I salute you. With the list of “cons,” I still chose to breastfeed.
Let me preface my story by saying, for those of you that have had more issues than I, I feel for you. I really do. I hope you do not feel I am rubbing my success in your face. I just got very lucky. You mommas push through the hard times. We are good at that and realize there will be relief to the pain and YOU are feeding your baby. You are providing the nourishment, the life to your little one. No one else can do it the way you do. Keep it up! Our bodies were made to handle so much. Whether your goal for nursing is a year, 15 months, 2 years or even just 6 months. You can do it! Psssst…..and think of all the money you are saving by being the food source. Cha-ching!
My son is now 13 months old and still nurses. We have been very lucky with our breastfeeding journey. I have had only a few issues. In the very beginning, like day 2 of E being out of the womb, I knew he had a tongue tie. Nursing from the get go was painful and my nipple came out of his mouth looking like the tip of lipstick, as they say. Luckily we were still in the hospital and they were able to snip the tongue-tie. Ankyloglossia is the technical term, a very common problem that sometimes resolves itself. Even with the snip I was still pained for probably the first month to 2 months. He had no issue with any of it. The pain was all on my end, of course. Again with the pain. Oh well, my baby was and is worth every inch of pain that comes along. We needed time for his little tongue to grow. Once it did the sore, bloody nipples were no more. Nursing was now easy street for me and the kiddo.
I’ve only had a clogged duct once. This happened this past Christmas. I think this was the first sign that my supply was going down and E was not needing to nurse as much. I feel for those of you that have had multiple clogged ducts or a clog that led to mastitis. I was so worried this would happen. One, I didn’t want to be on antibiotics and two, it was Christmas Eve! The last thing I wanted to do was go to urgent care because of a temperature. Luckily with heating pads and compresses and over nursing that kid, I was able to get the clog out. It was one of the craziest things. I could literally feel the relief. It was an eruption of milk.
There is also the always being on call. Or the pumping. I know many women who strictly pump. Either they work full time or just simply have issues with their little one not taking to the nipple. Good for you for sticking to pumping. I am definitely not a pumping fan. So much pumping in the beginning to create a freezer supply or when, you know, you just want to go out to dinner with your husband or girlfriends you need a bottle for the little one. Oh, and then there is the chance that you might have to travel without your baby. Pumping in an airport and carrying your milk around with you is a weird thing. At least it was to me. I was in a girlfriends wedding in Omaha when E was only 3 months old. So hard leaving him behind, but taking him along and finding coverage for the little man and then being on call while trying to do wedding events seemed harder than me just being gone for literally 48 hours. Daddy stayed behind and enlisted the help of his mother, sister and niece. He had it made. I was so sad to be away and then kind of annoyed that I had to pump so much. Like I said, he was still so little and nursed so much. So, mama had to pump it up on this short whirlwind of a trip. There’s nothing like leaving the reception to go pump in a bathroom for twenty minutes. Luckily I had a fellow bridesmaid and dear friend in the same boat as me. We pumped and chatted. We synched up to pump-chat! At that time pumping did not relieve the pain. I felt like searching out a baby to nurse. My engorged breasts needed a baby. But, that would have been too weird, right? Alas, I pumped and as soon as I returned home I put that baby boy on my bosom for what felt like hours. Glorious.
Here we are now at the brink of weaning. Am I ready? The bond that breastfeeding creates is magical. It is such a relaxing time for baby and mom. I especially love the evenings. We read a book, sometimes sing a few songs then nurse for a good 20 to 30 minutes. The sweet cuddles and relaxation nursing brings my son is so worth the amount of time and energy. This is also when I take a little me time and get some reading done. I can’t be the only one that reads and nurses, am I? Now E is getting bigger and likes to kick his leg and smack the book I am reading or my face. Which is all very cute. There’s nothing like little baby fingers exploring your face and trying to dig in your mouth or nose. It’s quite endearing. Part of me doesn’t want this to end. But then part of me feels like now he isn’t getting all he needs. I have started offering 2 or more ounces of whole milk in a bottle after nursing to make sure he is getting enough. He sucks it down. We have had a few nights recently where he has woken in the middle of the night and my thinking is he is still hungry. So we up our solid food intake and add more whole milk. I could go to only nursing at night for the calming effect and go ahead and do bottles before naps, but then my supply will go down even more if he stops the pre-nap nursing. Such the dilemma. I think at this point I am letting it happen naturally. E will let me know when the time is right. I have let go of the nursing goal. We made it to a year. Hallelujah! The baby will take it from here and let me know when our time is done. Will he be less of a baby when this happens? I suppose so. He already is. This is what happens though, isn’t it? Our babies grow up. Doesn’t mean they don’t need us any less. It just means they need us in different ways. We will always be their mommas. Regardless, when our evening nursing comes to a close I just might cry. Perhaps I am tearing up as I write this. The realization of him growing up is hard to take. My baby. Even when the nursing stops I will always get snuggles from that kid, whether he wants it or not. Boob or no boob, there will be snuggles.
About Sarah Scruggs King:
I was born and raised in North Carolina and met a California boy. Together we welcomed a baby boy in February, 2016. Baby Ernie fit right into our little family of 2 cats and a dog. He loves his furry siblings. I have been a nanny for the past 8 years. While still being a nanny, I take my son along. He loves his “big brothers.” Being a nanny has really sparked my creative side. I love cooking and children’s literature. So I am always coming up with healthy kid friendly eating. The bigs aren’t always accepting of my creations as much as the little one is. So my very own guinea pig is usually the one that loves everything momma makes. Thanks little man! Hope this sticks with him forever. I am currently in the illustration process for my first children’s book. This is such an exciting time and I look forward to sharing the finalization process with you all. Follow me on my journey. I am so new to the social media world. As well as my first book, I am in steps of creating a website where I will share short stories, recipes and fun children’s literature. Until then, follow along on Instagram @theunexpectednanny. Thanks for the support!