Sunday, February 20

The only title for this post that I could think of was "Got Milk?" So there you go.

A couple months ago, Milo's pediatrician told us that he had gotten too skinny and needed to put on some weight. He had gained weight pound-wise (albeit very slowly) but had dropped too far down on the growth chart. The doctor recommended continuing to breastfeed, but thought we should turn my three daily pumpings into two bottles, then also give him a third bottle of formula.

I was crushed. I had made it nine months without giving Milo a drop of formula, and now my supply wasn't enough to keep my baby healthy. I had failed, and no way could anyone convince me otherwise. After the initial breastfeeding troubles, it was probably the lowest point of my mothering career thus far. Many, many tears were shed, but after a couple of days, I came to the conclusion that though I knew that supplementing with formula would likely make my supply problem worse, not better, I also knew that my current supply just wasn't adequate for Milo's needs, and I wasn't willing to spend every waking hour pumping. I already hated the three times a workday I spent hooked up to that loud, beeping monstrosity, and I was not interested in upping that to four or five times a day. So formula it was.

Andrew and I talked and came up with a plan. We had three days of daycare before the Christmas holiday started, so we'd try giving Milo formula for those three days, then hopefully being with him and nursing over the long break would help increase my supply to better match his actual needs. So Monday, Day 1 of our plan came; we sent two 5-oz bottles of breastmilk and one bottle of formula, along with his regular breakfast and lunch. When I picked Milo up that night, I learned that he apparently had been so full that he hadn't finished his breastmilk bottle (I guess they gave him the formula first) and five ounces of liquid gold just got poured down the drain. FAIL. No more formula was sent to daycare.

After the long Christmas holiday, I did seem to be able to pump a little more, but not a lot more. We just began sending more solids to daycare with Milo, and loading everything he ate up with butter, cheese, and olive oil. And he definitely began to gain weight. We returned to the doctor for a weight check one month later, and he was up about two pounds. We felt pretty good about that, and I quit worrying so much about how much I was able to pump.

But over the last few weeks, my pumping output has gotten smaller and smaller. When I started pumping five months ago, I would get about four ounces per session. After awhile, that became a steady three ounces a session. I am now down to one or two ounces per session. I cannot tell you how much I stressed about this. I began going through my freezer stash of expressed milk (which, again, I knew wasn't going to help my supply) because I wanted Milo to get enough and I wasn't willing to increase the number of pumping sessions I had.

After a couple weeks of stressing over this, I realized that my mindset had shifted. I went from stressing about how I wasn't pumping enough to stressing that Milo wasn't getting enough to eat. And I think that was sort of profound. Whereas before I was of course worried that Milo wasn't eating enough, I only worried about it in relation to my milk supply. Now I just wanted to be sure he was getting enough calories, no matter what the source.

Plus, I was ready to quit pumping. My goal all along had been to pump at work until Milo turned one, then start weaning from that while continuing to nurse him in the mornings and before bed. But now, as he turns 11 months old, I'm ready to start weaning from the pump. Honestly, I think Milo has been helping me do that for the last few weeks anyway. When he's hungry during the day, he ups the amount of solid foods he eats, he doesn't wait until he's with me at night and then nurse more.

But if I was going to start decreasing my pumping, what was going to replace the breastmilk in his diet? I'd use my freezer stash first, but that wouldn't last long. What then? Could he go ahead and have cow's milk, even though they say not until the first birthday? I did some research and called the doc, and it seems that at this point, as long he drinks enough water and eats plenty of food (with lots of calcium-rich veggies and all that good balanced nutrition) he doesn't really need to replace the breastmilk with anything. And since I've been drinking cow's milk, Milo can go ahead and have that, too. So wow. It was really going to happen.

And starting tomorrow, I'm going to begin weaning from the pump. And I'm truly, honestly ready for that.


Stephanie said...

Congratulations! 11 months of breast-feeding and your amazing baby foods is a great accomplishment. And almost no formula (darn daycare anyway), yay!

Lindsay said...

Good for you! And yay for 11 SOLID months of breastfeeding and pumping. Now comes the best part of breastfeeding. No pumping, no worrying--just extra snuggle time with your little guy every day.

So proud of you!!

The Mudds said...

Breastfeeding that long is a huge accomplishment. Most moms I know were thrilled to make it to 6 months!
Great Job!