Anyone who knows me well (or at least reads my Facebook page) knows that I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding. I think everyone should give breastfeeding a try. I think it’s a travesty that our country’s healthcare system is not more breastfeeding-friendly. Women consistently get incorrect information about feeding their babies, if they get any information at all. I’ve seriously considered becoming a lactation consultant, although not right now because I’ve come across a different, very cool, project, which I’ll post about later. (I’m all about re-inventing myself, a la Madonna, except without all her trashiness.)
Anyway, I’ve had a lot of discussions with classmates and friends about reasons to breastfeed and the mechanics of it, but I don’t think we as a breastfeeding community talk about the end of breastfeeding very well, and that’s unfortunate. After making it through 6 months of exclusively breastfeeding Menininho I just assumed I’d go at least another 6, and that at some point after then he would just gradually prefer solids over milk and one day he’d quit taking the breast totally and that would be that. Back in May I read one of blogger Cjane’s posts (Mammorial Day, Part 2), where she described breastfeeding her son one night and feeling impressed that that was the last time she’d nurse him and that she’d better enjoy it. I cried when I finished the post. I couldn’t imagine knowing ahead of time when I’d wean my baby. Heck, I couldn’t imagine weaning my baby.
About a month ago I got an email from my cardiologist. Based on the results of a host of tests I’ve had run (you might remember the stress test I blogged about), he recommended I get on a drug that is currently being tested in Marfan syndrome patients. My doctor couldn’t promise that it would work for me, but case studies have shown it to be promising and it’s possible that it could even heal some of the problems with my heart, not just halt the progression. The only caveat is that in order to start taking this medication I would have to stop breastfeeding Menininho.
I was really torn over what to do, and I admit, part of me was nervous about what people would think or say when they saw me giving Menininho a bottle. Would they judge me with their little frownsmiles (you know what I’m talking about!)? Would my baby still love me? Would moving him to formula cause some mysterious kind of damage down the road that I couldn’t yet anticipate? I didn’t feel like I had many people to discuss this with except, of course, my husband, who has always been incredibly supportive of me breastfeeding.
In the end though, I knew what I had to do. Menininho is not going to remember whether I breastfed him, but he will remember whether I had enough energy to play with him. I owe it to him and any potential future children to see if this medication will work for me (please pray that it does!).
So Wed. night I nursed Menininho for the last time. It was so hard. I cried the entire time. I think he sensed it was his last time because he nursed for a lot longer than usual. For a brief moment I again questioned my decision. But in the end, I felt really good about it. We had a bit of a rough start with the formula but now Menininho gets excited to see me coming with the bottle and he can, and prefers to, feed himself.
I will NOT miss the weaning process. This may just be because I weaned him relatively quickly, but the past few weeks have felt like the first trimester of pregnancy all over again (minus the nausea). I’ve heard it will go away in a week or two.
As moms, we’re hard on ourselves about a lot of things. Whether or not we want to admit it, we’re hard on each other about a lot of things. Let’s not let breastfeeding be one of them. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not going to give up on educating women about breastfeeding, because I believe that in most situations breast is best, but at the end of the day happy moms = happy babies = happy families, and that is way more important. We should all embrace the decisions we make.