Friday, September 18, 2015

My Breastfeeding Journey - Part 2, Saying Goodbye to my Superpower

Well, it's over. My superpower of sustaining the life of two humans has come to an end. My magic milk is nearly all dried up and while my boys continue to thrive and grow, I am forced to accept the end of a a truly beautiful experience.

I had made the commitment to exclusively breast feed the boys until they were at least one year. When the boys were about 4 months old we met with our fertility specialist as I wanted to get information about the process for having more children in the future. It may have seemed crazy to even consider more babies with two infants at home, but I like information and I like to plan. My doctor mentioned that I would need to start menstruating again so my hormone levels could be accurately evaluated. If we wanted to get moving she said I would have to stop breastfeeding. WHAT??!!! STOP BREASTFEEDING?! NEVER! I wasn't planning on getting pregnant again until after the boys' first birthday, so I didn't think about it one more minute. At the end of our meeting, I gathered my to-do list, tucked it away and got back to my babies.

Throughout my year of nursing twins I was lucky enough to not to have any issues with my supply and completely trusted that my body would do what it needed to do for my babies. I was diligent about pumping to build a freezer stash and made sure to take care of myself so my milk stayed strong and steady. I had very little nipple issues as I was obsessed with lanolin-ing after each feeding/pump session. I used my milk to heal anything that cropped up on the babies or myself and the only thing that was every really horrible was my boobs being too full and requiring midnight pumps long after the boys were sleeping through the night.

My Clarke-ey-puss enjoying is favorite activity...eating!
As the boys grew and started to eat more and more their need for multiple feedings slowly started to decrease. They were little beasts, enjoying power grub sessions lasting only 5-10 minutes, only a few times a day.  Once summer hit and I was no longer working, we quickly dropped the two bottle feeds they had while I was at work and ate solid food all day; only nursing in the morning and at night. Both feedings were fast, furious and they were often super distracted (which is typical for their age). They would pound a few gulps, then be off to grab another toy or chase each other. I was so excited to watch them grow into these little men, but terribly sad my babies were so big.

The week before their first birthday I went back to work. I cut out the morning feeding as they were still fast asleep when I left for the day and I wasn't about to wake them up. Despite working part-time and being home every other day, I am dedicated to consistency and therefore stayed with the schedule. Babies get up and head to the kitchen for breakfast. While I desperately missed swooping their sleepy bodies from their cribs and bringing them to bed with me to snuggle and nurse before starting our day, they were more than thrilled to chow down fresh eggs with spinach and toast.

J.R. kicking up his feet for his love of food!
I kept up with the nightly feeds, but after I put them to bed each night I knew they would be perfectly fine if I stopped. They only nursed for minutes and preferred to rough house before bed rather than cuddle. The days of them relaxing into their feedings and drifting off to a calm sleep were looooooong gone. I started to feel like the time was right to stop breastfeeding. Granted, I may have gone a bit longer had we not been planning to grow our family, but then again, I am not sure I would have. The time just seemed right, more so for them than myself to be honest.  I went back and forth on what to do and often was really anxious if I was doing the right thing. My TH was very supportive and often reminded me that what was most important was the babies we had now and I needed to do what felt right for all of us and not rush into anything. I took his advice to heart and made a plan to just keep moving forward and take one day at a time.

Before giving up the night nurses I started giving them sippy cups of almond milk with their meals and snacks to get them used to something besides breast milk and water. Once the big birthday weekend had passed, the guests had left and we were back to normal I cut out the night feeding. I kept the nightly routine the same (dinner, bathies, room time) but instead of nursing their wiggling/giggling bodies, I rocked them and (tried) to read them a book. They usually lasted about one page and then were ready to get moving again. I kissed them, wiped my tears and put them in their cribs to sleep. I left the room praying they would cry for me and I would rush in, saving the day with my milk magic...but there were no cries, no screams, just a little night chatter before they drifted to sleep. I waited....and waited...but nothing. Here I thought I would give this no-nursing thing a try and then surely decide to breastfeed longer but it didn't happen that way. It was just another night of hard sleep from my two perfect angels.

Feeeeeeeeed us!
From that night, we have continued to move forward. While I have missed our "breast/bonding time", they have never looked back. While I know that this is the natural progression of growing up, I still wonder if I did the right thing. To stop breastfeeding is a mutual experience requiring both mother and baby to be "ready". Despite knowing that in order to work on baby #3 I had to stop breastfeeding, I didn't let that pressure me into doing what felt right for my boys. For me and my family it was time. The boys were showing no behaviors that gave me any cause for concern, which made it easier for me to slowly move forward.

I am a month post-breastfeeding and going strong. I am now past the initial discomfort and having to manually express each day just to take the edge off. I did experienced a few "boulders" in the beginning, but overall, it hasn't been nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

While this marks the end of one journey it only starts another. Now I wait for my body to fall into old cycles if you will, as I prepare to get pregnant again and start another breastfeeding journey but this time hopefully only ONE baby! How on Earth you feed just one is beyond me, I will have to hit up all the non-multiple mommies I know to get tips on that!

How was your breastfeeding journey? Anything you wish you did differently?

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