I always imagined that I’d feed Freddie for as long as I possibly could and he wanted too, given that breast-feeding was working for us both, but obviously there does come a time where you’re faced with having to wean your baby off. A bittersweet moment. It’s partly filled with sadness as you ‘mourn’ the loss of those special moments and all the time you spent bonding and building up closeness between you both, but it’s also filled with relief and joy of being able to eat, drink whatever you please and go wherever you want too. However, all things eventually do come to an end, whether we want them too or not and sometimes quicker than we expect and want. For some mothers, this will be an easy decision with not much thought going into it, for others; the hardest decision. For me, by far the hardest and a very heartbreaking decision.
It comes as Freddie turns 12 weeks old… where on earth has that time gone?! Freddie has been doing so well in his weight gain, he’s been gaining weight rapidly and filling out; meaning he’s finally going into newborn clothing and out of tiny baby. Hooray! I last had Freddie weighed when he was 8 weeks old by the nurse who gave him his jabs and he weighed in at 9lbs exactly. I was unbelievably proud of myself for getting Freddie up to 9lbs in 8 weeks, considering his lowest weight recorded was 5lbs,9oz. Knowing I had done that and no one else, gave me the warmest feeling inside; I felt like I was going to burst with pride.
Freddie turned 12 weeks old on the 5th of September and we had our family nurse coming to see us and she always weighs Freddie. I was so intrigued to see how much he’d put on in 4 weeks and was excited to see how big he’d got. So, I took off his clothes and nappy and placed him onto the scales and waited patiently to find out what he weighed. 9lbs,2-1/2oz. My heart sunk and I felt so sad and also worried. How had my baby only gained 2-1/2oz in a month when he was feeding every 2hrs and having 6oz of expressed at night and peeing and pooping fine? We were confused as to what had happened and I could feel the guilt consuming my whole body. I could hear the voices in my head saying “you haven’t done enough, you’ve failed, you should’ve been topping him up with more.” and so much more and I was struggling to fight back the tears. How had my body stopped nourishing my little boy when it was doing so well before? The mum guilt was real.
We rang to get advice on what to do because for obvious reasons, we couldn’t leave it at that. Freddie couldn’t carry on not gaining weight. The nurse on the phone suggested in between feeds, topping him up with some formula. I heard the words formula and I cried. I was so adamant that I’d exclusively breastfeed Freddie and now that all had to change, I was gutted. I knew it had to be done, so of course there was no hesitation to me doing it – I needed Freddie to gain weight and if formula was going to do that for him; then whatever Freddie needs. Our family nurse reassured me that it was nothing that I had done and all the guilt I was feeling, wasn’t necessary. I had done an amazing thing for my little boy, I had provided him with so much goodness and nutrition for 12 weeks and gave him the best start in life, but it still didn’t make the guilt go away.
I decided to try Freddie on SMA pro, first infant milk as Aptamil made him very sick. I gave him 2oz after a breastfeed and he guzzled it, it was gone within an instance. Once burped, I put Freddie down to play on his bear and he was smiling, babbling away and so happy – what a difference in my baby who would instantly cry once I had put him down after a feed; no matter how long and big the feed was. It was hard but so nice to see Freddie so happy and full. Hard because it wasn’t me and me alone who had done that, but happy because my baby was happy. Happy baby = happy mama. Once Freddie had, had his first lot of formula, he then realised how hungry he was and wanted more, I tried to breastfeed him but he refused so I tried formula and he took it straight away. My heart was breaking. I persisted in trying to breastfeed Freddie and he did, but he sure did put up a fight.
It was soon 7pm and time for Freddie’s bath, feed and bed. I breastfed Freddie, he latched first time and he fed for a good half-an-hour. He held onto my top or finger, never lost eye contact and kept stopping to give me little smiles. My heart felt so full, I had our special moment back and felt better in knowing he did still want me after all. Little did I know it would be our last. I gave Freddie an oz of formula just to tie him over and make sure he was fully satisfied ready to settle to sleep. He then had his bottle at 11pm and went back to sleep until 5am like normal. I went to feed Freddie and all he did was scream, scratch me and refuse to feed. After 15 minutes of trying to latch him on, I gave up because he was too distressed. I knew I had to give him formula. I knew then, mine and Freddie’s feeding time together, was over. I knew in the back of my mind formula was what he now wanted and was doing more for him. I sat cuddling Freddie, crying. I could’ve kept trying to breastfeed Freddie and not give up, but if my baby was going to cry to the point of holding his breath over latching , was it really worth it? I made the decision that it wasn’t worth it and knowing he hadn’t gained an adequate amount of weight in a month, I couldn’t chance it.
It is now Friday, the 7th and Freddie is only on formula. If I even try to give him breastmilk, he ends up throwing it back up from where he’s so used to the formula. Even though I’m still so upset at stopping breastfeeding, I’m so happy to have a more settled and happier, fuller Freddie. He’s guzzling milk like there’s no tomorrow, sleeping better, being put down to play, constantly smiling and babbling and will settle with other people rather than just me and bonus!! It means I get a break. Ryan and Freddie will be able to bond better as Ryan will be able to do some night feeds meaning I can SLEEP!!! I’ve always been told and heard that breast is best and up till now, I’ve to some degree, agreed but in some cases and quite often, breast isn’t always best. I’m so glad me and Freddie had such a lovely last breastfeed, I wish I knew it was to be our last, I’d have tried to make it go on and on; but I guess sometimes you can’t plan for somethings and that’s life isn’t it? You can’t plan what’s to happen and you have to take things as they come and deal with it; good or bad.
To finish off, if anyone else has been in my situation or currently is.. Breastfeeding in itself is such an accomplishment, whether you feed for 2 weeks or 2 years; you have provided the best for your baby and should be immensely proud. I know I am. Don’t feel guilt on giving up if you have too for the sake of your baby because you do what’s best for them and in my case formula is best for Freddie. Be proud of yourself for doing so well in feeding your baby! I so wish I could carry on but it’s not the best option for Freddie, we still have our bond and closeness and I’m glad breastfeeding enabled that to happen for us.
Now, the thing I have to try and achieve… drying up my breastmilk.
I’m trying to go cold turkey but it is horrendous. My boobs are engorged and swollen, leaking and FULL and I’m in so much pain. I’ve been hand-expressing tiny amounts at a time to relief some of the pain, using compresses as well as using cabbage leaves to dry it out. So if anyone has any suggestions, please send them my way!
Thanks for reading.
love – Chloe & Freddie. X