Friday, April 13, 2012

Weaning - part 2


I have received so many comments and emails and phone calls and facebook posts and wow. So many people with so many different opinions! I’d like to thank those of you who have given me so much support through all of this – and that actually includes those of you who shared with me your feelings that I should not conclude pumping. I realize you are (hopefully) sharing with me your thoughts out of love and concern and I appreciate that.
I wanted to give an update on how the weaning is going.
That’s all.
Ha. Just kidding. No, it really is going better. I actually found a somewhat decent article on the mechanics of weaning. I can tell my supply is slowing dropping off. I realize now that I was crazy impatient in this whole process and expecting that my body would go from producing 1 gallon of milk a day to 0 ounces a day was going to happen in a few days was a bit na├»ve.  I really think the B6 is helping too. I also try to go longer and longer between pumping and do a slightly smaller amount each time. I use ice packs whenever I can and I have been wearing sports bras all day and night for a week now. These things are really helping with the physical side of weaning.

As for the emotional --

Whew. I don’t know. I’ve read so much stuff on this (like this and this and this). I’ve read through everyone’s comments multiple times about not feeling guilty. I think in the end, I am still trying to have peace about this decision. I’m using the space I have here as a therapy of sorts in order to do that.
I’m a proponent of taking care of your children. I have never been a huge breastfeeding or bust (ha. I just made that up but that’s clever. Lactivists should coin that) Anyway, I’ve never been one of those crazy breastmilk people. I wanted to give it a shot because with the boys being so early, I felt like one of the few things I could do was provide them with some natural anti-bodies during their uphill struggle to just develop. I think it helped their undeveloped immune system and I’m still glad for that.
I have pumped every 3-4 hours since they were born nearly 6 months ago. I have never had the luxury of just feeding them. Even when I was tandem nursing, I would have to pump afterward because I was so engorged. I decided to pump exclusively when I went back to work (two weeks after we finally got them home) so we wouldn’t have nipple issues. I have seldom had the sweet bond that can come from nursing a baby. Have no doubt, nursing twins is a job. It is work. At least for me, it seldom was the sweet cuddle time I would have enjoyed. Maybe we would’ve gotten there eventually? And as for losing weight, I slimmed down fairly quickly but I still had an extra 10lbs on while breastfeeding. Just weaning in the last week I have already lost 5lbs.
I have had mastitis. I have had severe bleeding and even given them pink breast milk. I have had plugged ducts that have dropped me to the floor and caused me to cry in pain for hours. I have pumped for hours at a time to work out ducts. I have used heat and ice and massage. I have called hotlines at 3am. I have altered my diet. I have taken fenugreek to be able to produce enough. I have bought a deep freezer just to store any extra I could produce. I have pumped in every place imaginable including on a toilet in a bathroom at a restaurant, under my desk at work, bare chested in an airport bathroom during a 20 min layover, in the back of a rental car, in the passenger seat of our car on the way to wherever. I have bought nipple shields and pads and storage bags and pump parts and nursing bras and nursing pillows and hands-free pump bras and lactose free everything and yeast free everything and creams and cloth covers and so on. Besides not sleeping, I have missed countless opportunities to be with my boys or friends or my husband so I could go back to my bedroom and not disturb anyone. I have missed meetings at work. I have missed movies and poker nights. I have done all of this, and more, without complaint. I know I have sacrificed for this. 

And despite all of this, I’m having a hard time with the guilt. I think this comes from feeling like a lot of my worth to them is providing breast milk since I’m gone most of the day at work. If I can’t physically be there for them, at least I could provide something physical. And now that I don’t have that anymore, I’m having a hard time feeling valuable to them. I know that is ridiculous. My logical brain tells me that I do a lot for them (not the least of which is listed above), but my emotional mommy-guilt brain tells me I need to do more.
So that’s where I’m at. I’m sure in another few weeks I’ll see them thriving and I’ll have the opportunity to sleep and get my hormones all balanced again and things will be looking up. At least I’m hoping for that. 

Until then, though, I thought I’d share one last thing. It’s a great piece about being judgmental. I’ve realized through this whole process how incredibly judgmental we can be of each other and ourselves. In fact, most of our judgments of each other are really insecurities we have within ourselves. I think that’s why we see it so much in the world of parenting. We all feel insecure as parents. It’s an area where we get little feedback and where we don’t know how to define “success”. That’s a tough grading curve. My favorite part of this piece is the following analogy –
“A man spends all of his day in a coal mine and his entire body and face are filthy. As he arrives home he sees a mirror his wife has bought. He looks at the mirror and sees that his reflection is dirty, so he takes a rag and starts cleaning the mirror. He tries and tries with all his might but his face still remains dirty. Of course this man is acting foolishly, as it is not a problem with the mirror but rather his own filth.”

Have a wonderful weekend.


Aleisha Z. Coleman said...

wow, too! i just love you and support whatever you do because i think you are amazing. if i hear you correctly you have felt like a machine instead of a mom for 6 months. to me that makes it understandable you want actual time with your boys instead of being a boob machine:)! i can't empathize with your specific situation as i have never breastfed, but i sure can sympathize with having pain. NOT FUN! i hope you can come to terms with the guilt. use the atonement to relieve that burden. it works!
i love you, and duhg and charlie and whitman!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jo, I stumbled upon your blog because I am going through the same guilt. My girls are exactly 3.5 months and I have to stop breastfeeding them. The girls were born at 37 wk (6lb 10 oz and 7lb 6oz) perfectly healthy and have been nursing every since. I even have to supplement with formula.

I'm an Army Reservist and I only have 2.5 months to get back to my pregnancy weight and pass my physical fitness test. I'm a stay at home mom but I want to return to work in a few months.

I almost feel like I'm letting them down but I know that's not the case...