For the first four months, I had been supplementing him only about 6 ounces of formula per day. Since babies that age are getting over 20 ounces per day, I felt pretty good about that. I usually made it through the first half of the day without any bottles, and then had to give him more formula further into the evening as my supply ran low. But suddenly, right around the 4-month mark, in just a few days, I went from giving him 6 oz of formula to 12 and then 18 .... I was very frustrated, angry, and upset.
Why did this happen? I have no idea. But I do know that I promised myself I wouldn't be all crazy about breastfeeding like I was with Eleanor. With baby #1, I felt like that was the ONLY thing I could give her that no one else could, and if I wasn't nursing then I might as well be some automaton instead of a mother. Is this crazy? Yes. And I'm sure some part of my rational brain knew that, but it was vastly overruled by the crazy, post-partum, new-mom hormonal part of my brain. So with Eleanor, I pumped and pumped to try and increase (or at least keep) my supply. I'm pretty sure I pumped at least once a day, if not more, for her first six months. For the first 4 months I never missed a feeding; of this I'm absolutely certain, because she refused to take a bottle. From months 4-6, I probably only missed a few, because I was paranoid that any time I missed a feeding, my supply would drop.
I've tried very hard not to worry about it so much this time. Declan's weight has never been an issue, and with a toddler as well, I simply don't have the time to devote to breastfeeding like I did last time. And I've seen with my own eyes that I'm still Eleanor's Mom, irreplaceable in her eyes (God help her), even though we've been done with breastfeeding for nearly 3 years and counting.
So when I had this inexplicable, dramatic drop in my milk supply, I didn't fight it as hard as I would have the first time around. I had a week of trying to convince myself it was temporary and I could go back to how it was before, but it wasn't to be. So I shrugged my shoulders and started dropping nursings. Last week, I stopped nursing for the last feeding of the day. This week, the last two feedings will be with a bottle. That's how I did it with Eleanor--I gave myself a lot of time to come to grips with the fact that it was actually happening. Like everything else, however, I'm not sure if it will play out the same way.
With Eleanor, I was supplementing her while she was nursing, so adding more formula didn't decrease the time she nursed. By the end, I was giving her a full amount of formula while she nursed, and I would just tell myself that she was also getting a little breastmilk too, although I had no way of knowing for sure. (You know, if this is too much talk about my breasts, feel free to stop reading right now. Just saying.) But with Declan, because he does take a bottle, I usually nurse him and then give him a bottle. He's getting to where, other than the first feeding of the day, he doesn't really think the nursing is worth his time and he'd rather just go straight to the bottle.
At this point, I'm just hoping we can make it a couple more weeks. I want to make it past the 5-month mark (3/17), a bit into the sixth month, so I can round up and tell people (mostly myself) that we made it 6 months. Is this logical? I doubt it. But sometimes it's just easier to accept the crazy and go with the flow.
I guess that's my new point of view. When the crazy makes me frustrated and pushes me over the edge, I need to resist. But sometimes, when the crazy is relatively mild, it's easier to just accept it.
Right now, I'm trying to remind myself of all the good aspects of being done with nursing:
- My body, saggy and out-of-shape as it is, will finally be my own again.
- No more nursing bras.
- We'll be so much more free to go and do things doing the day, since I'm not worried about getting home for feedings.
- I won't be worried about Declan's weight and how much he's eating, since there's an endless supply of formula. Not cheap, but endless!
- I won't be so worried about missing feedings, since I won't have to worry about my supply. So I will be able to go do things with a clear conscience and actually enjoy them.
If any other moms have any suggestions to cheer me up, benefits to weaning, feel free to share! The not-crazy side of me would like a bit more encouragement.