Winding Down

Ellen and I seem to be winding down our breastfeeding relationship.

My milk supply has been dropping pretty drastically, subsequently decreasing my freezer supply of breastmilk to take to daycare as I struggle to keep up with what Ellen has been drinking from her bottles while we’re apart.

This has been happening because Ellen has been shortening her feeds universally (yay solid foods!), as well as sleeping the whole night (11 hrs at a time!) most nights. The decreased demand has taken a toll on my milk production, as expected. Adjustments to daycare bottles are also being made to reflect her at-home habits.

The post-afternoon-nap feed has been cut entirely, and we are down to only 4 feeds a day (morning, before both naps, and bedtime). I realized that the time had come to cut the late-afternoon feed over the past weekend when she would eat for a mere two minutes before biting me and refusing to latch back on. Ellen does not have any issues with gaining weight at a healthy pace, so I do not feel obligated to force her to continue a feed if she doesn’t want it.

I recall forcing breastfeeding for Lewis (at the doctor’s request) when he was disinterested (and I was too!) because of his weight issues. I managed to stretch out nursing him for two extra months with great effort. It is difficult to continue nursing a baby who doesn’t want it, especially when you, yourself, also feel done.

I am sinking into this familiar feeling of being finished. It’s comfortable. I think we’ll hang onto a few more feedings at least until her birthday, but I don’t mourn the loss of the feedings we’re cutting, feel bad for supplementing a bit with formula, or worry about the loss of my milk supply anymore. It’s a nice feeling.

Ellen has taken to solid foods like a pig to mud (so different than Lewis!), so I have no concerns at all about her still getting the calories she needs. Stopping breastfeeding whenever just feels… fine. And I’m thrilled that Ellen and I are on the same page.

The only negative feeling I have is the nerves regarding possible physical discomfort as I scale back. I know that it will be fine, because I’ve done this before and – you guessed it! – it was fine! But for some reason I can’t help but worry about throwing off my body’s hard-won equilibrium.

I go through this every time I adjust breastfeeding schedules, and every time it is (literally) painless. I wish I could turn off the anxiety, but boy… something about breastfeeding always causes such emotional reactions in me!

Anywho… I’m two days into cutting the afternoon feed (AKA pumping at work), and there’s no turning back now! I’m looking forward to normal bras, dresses, freedom to be away from Ellen without worrying about a pump, ownership over my body again, the pump disappearing from my desk… and perhaps the cessation of our breastfeeding relationship will also help Ellen to accept other caregivers at bedtimes and naptimes a little more willingly! Who knows!

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