|Picture Source: almightydad.com|
Since I started enjoying nursing (it took about 3 weeks) I had planned to nurse until A was 12 months old, the AAP recommendation.
A nursed as usual when we woke up on November 12 (his 9 month birthday), and then refused to nurse for his second morning feeding. I didn't think anything of it and gave him some bananas and cereal. Then at lunch, he refused again. At that point, I had to give him a bottle because he needed the nutrients. When he refused again that afternoon, I started looking online. I'll tell you right now, in the 4 weeks I've been trying to figure this out, I haven't found anything helpful, and this blog won't offer you any new insights either. Everything I read said "a majority of infants don't quit nursing on their own until around 18 months of age." This, of course, makes me feel like a failure. My research told me this was most likely a nursing strike, perhaps due to teething or just a growing independence. I was under the impression it might last 2-7 days.
When 7 days came and went (at this point we had stocked up on formula to supplement the bottles of frozen breast milk), I researched the longest nursing strike: 18 days. So I figured I'd give it 18 days and then figure out what I'd do. I pumped and got enough milk to give him a bottle of breast milk a day. The rest of the day he'd get formula.
I called the Health Partners Lactation consultants and got no help from the nurse with whom I spoke. She told me that when her little one went on a nursing strike, she simply told him "this is where your milk comes from. You get it here, or not at all." Um, not going to work for me. My son goes to day care, so he already knows that's not true. She told me to not offer him an alternative, but I'm not going to refuse to give my son nutrients to teach him where milk should come from. And she told me the reason most babies quit nursing this young is not their choice, but because the mother gives up. Thanks for making me feel like crap, and not helping me find a real solution to the problem.
If you experience the same situation, do not feel bad. You can grieve the change in your relationship with your child, but then move on. Trust that you've done all you can and trust that you will make the best choices for yourself and for your child.
When the 18 days passed, I decided I'd pump enough milk to have a bottle a day for him until he's 12 months old. Ufda, that is 100 times harder than nursing exclusively. I'm not going to make it. And quite frankly, my supply won't either.
I woke up this morning with A, and I just didn't have it in me to pump. So I guess without really making a decision, I've made the choice to call it quits.
It took me 4 weeks to come to terms with this, but as Nate reminded me a few weeks ago, if I continue to set my heart on fulfilling all my plans, I will continue to be disappointed. I don't get to make such detailed plans as a parent. I'm okay with my decision. A had 9 months of breastfeeding and then made his own decision to exert his independence. His favorite way to take a bottle is standing up, holding on to the table. Not really an option with a breast. I hope it's a sign of good parenting to recognize what he needs and allow him to fulfill those needs in a healthy way.
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