Three weeks after my middle son was born my husband found me sitting on the shower floor crying and slightly hyperventilating. My boobs were sore. And tired. For the last three weeks I either had a baby or a pump latched on to me. One breast was producing well, where as the other one was not producing much. With the lack of sleep, recovering from a c-section, my boobs hurting like hell, and smelling like breast milk, I was over it. Over it all.
That fretful day I decided to take a shower after pumping. I was hoping that the hot water would help the No Milk Boob and the production would just pick up. While in the shower my whole body was hurting and tingling. I was raw in every possible way you can imagine, and I started to feel like my body couldn’t handle anymore.
I was stressed over the fact that I had to nurse and pump to get enough nutrients for my son, stressed because my recovery for this c-section was worse than the last, and the uterine cramps were insane. So, I collapsed and sobbed. Hubs came in to check on me and flung the shower door opened and wanted to know what he could do to help. I said only a few words, “Go to store and get formula and cabbages.”
He turned the water off and asked me if I was sure. I looked at him, pointed to my “broken” body and said ” Yes, I am sure. Please go now.” He didn’t question me again. He was back home in 20 minutes with formula and multiple cabbages to help dry what little milk I had.
I felt defeated. I had nursed my oldest son for about three months with no problems, and he kind of weened himself. My supply could not keep up with him, so I had to supplement with formula and the transition was so easy. However, with babe number two, it was not that easy (as an English teacher I would call this foreshadowing because nothing has come easy with him!) and my body was having not of it.
However, I still felt like I let myself and my son down; how come I struggled so much with nursing? Yet, I knew it was what was best for myself and him. I was more anxious all the time because I wasn’t producing, I had very little sleep, and I was in so much pain. How could I be a good mom to him and to my 2.5 year old if I was a walking zombie that ached from head to toe?
Now, I’m not going to lie — drying your boobs up cold turkey hurt like a mother. I went through a head a head of cabbage a day for about a week. I called my husband’s stepmom crying and she assured me that it would take about a week and to make sure I had them bound tight! I was nervous because my breasts were hard as rocks and I was so nervous that they would not go back to the way they were pre-baby!
I don’t regret why I stopped breastfeeding at all. I was not in a good place. I was not able to really enjoy my new son and I just couldn’t take another painful feeding. At the time I was upset about the decision, but I knew it was the right one for myself and my family.
When son #3 came along (14 months later — but that’s a whole ‘other story), I didn’t even tempt to nurse because of all the struggles I had. I can’t lie though, I am still envious of mothers that nurse their babies for months and months and wish I had that same experience, but their experience isn’t any better than mine. I had a healthy baby who cooed and gurgled and was just as happy as can be.
In the end, all we can do is support one another as mothers in the decisions we make; I was lucky enough to have my parents, my in laws and great friends to assure me that I was doing the right things because I felt like it was the right thing.