Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Nursing: the end game

Little Bean is not so little anymore. She's 10.5 months old now, and she's getting to be more of a toddler everyday. This morning when I dropped her off at school, she and her favorite friend Kiely (who is 11.5 months old) were both standing up and clapping together. I mean, come on, that is too adorable!

Anyway, as my active little girl has gotten more and more active, she's been less and less interested in nursing. These days I can usually only convince her to nurse when she's tired (i.e. before naps, before bed, and during the night). She is pretty variable in her interest in bottles. Some days she drinks 3 full 5 oz bottles, other days, like yesterday, they only get 8 oz into her. And the other 7 oz go down the drain... which seriously makes me die a little inside.

As her interest in nursing has waned, my milk production has fallen in response. It's getting to the point where pumping is a stressful half hour debacle of diminishing returns. I'm pumping longer and longer each day to get less and less milk. This situation can not last indefinitely. In the not-too-distant future, I will have to abandon pumping.

So I talked to her teacher yesterday after school, and we decided to send two 4 oz bottles plus an extra 2 oz in a sippy cup for lunch. Taking the amount that we're sending to school from 15 oz down to 10 oz ought to ease the burden a bit. And I've got 210 oz in the freezer. That is exactly enough to cover bottles every day for the rest of March. And at the beginning of April, she'll be almost a year old, and so I can introduce her to cows milk, thus avoiding formula.

So I think it's endgame time. It has come a little sooner than I anticipated. I really thought that I'd be able to keep pumping for a year. But at this point, for my own sanity, I have to give up on obsessing with making some arbitrary milestone instead of relying on common sense: every baby is different, Bean is an independent little girl with a mind of her own, and she will probably be ready to stop breastfeeding altogether (*sniff*) sooner than some others. But I made it pretty darn far with the breastfeeding, and in terms of the benefits for Bean's health and development, making it 11 months is probably just as good as making it a year. (It was oddly comforting to hear from Bean's teacher that Kiely started on cows milk at 11 months.)

So pretty soon here I guess I'm going to start phasing out the pump sessions. I just can't keep up with the daily stress of long pump sessions and little to show for it. It's too frustrating and tiring.

I'm hoping to keep nursing Bean at bedtime for as long as she's interested, and I'm a little nervous that as I phase out the pumping that I will lose my milk altogether. But it's something I don't have any control over, so I'm trying not to worry about that.

So for now I'm gonna keep pumping three times a day, but it ain't going to last too much longer. And I have to find a way to be okay with that.


The bean-mom said...

Congratulations on making it this far with the pumping! I know... giving up breastfeeding is bittersweet, like so many transitions. But even though she doesn't take much milk in the day time these days (too busy, too much to see and play with!), I am betting that you and your child will enjoy close nighttime nursing for many months to come.

(My Baby Legume is home with me all day, yet even she is not nursing much in the day now--too distracted, not interested. But I think she's making up for it at night!)

Natalie said...

Don't worry that stopping your pumping sessions will dry up your milk completely. Your body will just make less milk and Bean will continue to get all kinds of goodness from nursing even if it is just at night. My two favorite benefits of extended nursing are you don't have to worry as much about whether or not she gets enough solids at any one sitting, because she can always make up calories in milk later on, and you're still providing some immunity through the breastmilk (and lots of comfort during those sick days). Don't give up!

Erin said...

I faced the same situation around 10 or 11 months with my girl. Between trying to get a job, teach, and finish my thesis, I just couldn't keep up with the pumping. I made it to 11 months almost exactly, and then switched to half frozen breastmilk and half whole milk in her bottles, and then finally (about 2 weeks later) to just whole milk. The nursing didn't stop, though - I made less, but she still nursed in the evenings and at night. However, at about 13 months, she just lost interest and stopped on her own. It was a little sad for me, but I have an independent little girl also.

Anyway, you might be close to stopping, but you do have a couple of months to get used to the idea. And only pumping once or twice a day (and eventually, not at all) is a wonderful thing after a long year!

Flicka Mawa said...

I like the image of her clapping with her friend. What type of school do you drop her off at?

Jane said...

I can totally relate to this post. Baby Jane is down to 3 feedings a day (morning, once at daycare, and bedtime), so I'm down to pumping twice a day (once at work and once before bed). And like you said, it's been a bit bittersweet---nice to not have to pump so much, but sad knowing that the nursing days are almost over. Good luck with the new schedule!

ScienceMama said...

It's a Montessori school that has an infant room. It's a really great environment with really dedicated teachers. In May, Bean moves up to the toddler room where the developmental activities really kick in!

Another Mom said...

I know how much it pains you to have to stop, but I'm so amazed at how hard you've worked over the past 11 months to keep her filled up with breast milk! You have accomplished so much and you deserve to pat yourself on the back and then get some rest!

I've been wondering how much longer Punkin and I have before we have to stop. I think he'll always be interested in breastfeeding but soon I'll be too tired and in too much pain from his teeth to keep it up!

MommyProf said...

IMHO, let the pumping go. It is the worst part of nursing, and it looks like you don't need it any more. It is sad for now, but you will enjoy interacting in more grown up ways as well. You will impressed how free you feel when you are no longer chained to the pump.