So, I'm writing this mainly because I don't know many people in my life who understand what I'm going through or why I'm so sad. I'm the only person that I know that has breastfed their babies. I have two daughters that I breastfed until just past their first birthday and now a 5 month old that I had been exclusively breastfeeding until a couple weeks ago. I wanted to breastfeed him for at least a year but I know that is not going to happen now. I don't know how to describe it besides saying that it seems that my little baby is addicted to breastfeeding. Let me explain...
Since birth, my son has nursed a lot. I was taught to nurse on demand and he demanded it a lot. When he was 2 months old, I started using a swaddle blanket with him at night, which is the first time that he would go longer than an hour or two between feedings but that only happened at night. During the day, my son nursed every hour or two (and sometimes non-stop for an hour or two). My son wouldn't take naps unless he was attached to me and if I broke the latch, he'd wake up screaming. I couldn't drive anywhere unless he was in the backseat screaming because he wanted to nurse. My older son has an appointment that we have to go to every Thursday so for the entire hour drive there and hour drive back, he would scream. He didn't want to just be held... he wanted to nurse.
I've tried many things over the months to try to get him to nurse less or just figure out why he needed to nurse so much. I stopped drinking dairy because the doctor thought he was lactose intolerant. That really didn't do anything to help. One time, the doctor thought that he wasn't getting enough hindmilk, even though he was gaining weight. The doctor told me to make him wait 3 hours between feedings for 12-24 hours. He screamed a lot while I tried to stick with that and even ended up not sleeping at night like he had been. He woke up every hour to nurse. As soon as I started nursing him on demand again, he stopped waking up at night. It didn't work but instead seemed to make him more obsessed with nursing during the day.
His obsession was very noticeable to anyone who was around him. It was difficult to hold him. He would literally attack anyone who held him in a cradle hold, up against their chest, or on their hip. He had to be held with his back toward you. If you tried to hold him any other way, he would grab with his hands, open his mouth, and dive in, hoping to latch on to a breast. There were many times when the whole front of my shirt would be wet with slobber from him trying so hard to nurse. If he was facing someone who was not holding me, he would never look at their face, it was always their chest. He would salivate and get excited as he'd lean toward that person. He associated nursing to me but he definitely didn't believe that I was the only one who could nurse him because he tried with everyone.
I tried a few other things like trying to get him to suck on a pacifier or breaking his latch over and over again after he fell asleep or before he fell asleep. I tried soothing him in other ways. I even tried giving him bottles of expressed milk throughout the day and only nursing him at night and in the morning. That resulted in him waking up every hour at night again. It got to the point where he seemed miserable unless he was nursing. He wouldn't laugh, babble, or play. He would only nurse or scream. I had to find something that would work.
That's when I decided to bottle feed him. I hated the thought that he would only be 4.5 months old when I quit breastfeeding him but I had to try it. I was going to try to keep up with his feedings by pumping but he was only going to get bottles. The first two days, he screamed a lot. He would not take a bottle from me so I had to have some help just to get him to eat. The first two days were horrible days for me and him both but he was getting better fast.
After the first two days, he was a completely different baby. He was laughing, smiling, babbling, and playing. He no longer screamed all day long and actually seemed like the happiest baby alive. He started falling asleep on his own whenever he got tired. He slept in his crib, car seat, and even while playing. I couldn't believe how drastically he'd changed.
For the first week, I still couldn't hold him against my chest or on my hip and couldn't cradle him except to feed him. I couldn't even get my face close to him because he'd grab on to it and try to suck on my cheek. He seemed like he was mad at me because he didn't really look at me much and definitely didn't light up and smile when I entered the room. I became very depressed and wanted nothing more than to bring him to my breast to nurse him. But I was so afraid to do that. I didn't want to have to go through this all over again. I didn't want him to have to go through it again.
It's been almost 3 weeks now. I can finally hold him against my chest, cradle him, and carry him on my hip. I can actually relax him and put him to sleep against my chest. I can play with him and he actually looks at me, not my breasts. He takes naps everyday on his own. Those naps last at least an hour, if not longer. He laughs and plays. He's learning new things all the time. That would not have happened while he was nursing.
On two different occasions, I tried nursing him again. The first time was so that I can increase my milk supply. I seem to get less milk everyday and I know that having him nurse will build up my supply better than pumping. I nursed him for one day and put him back on bottles. A few nights ago, I tried again. I thought that maybe I'd be able to just nurse him at night. He went back to being miserable both times. He went back to grabbing at my breasts and screaming a lot. He stopped playing, laughing, and babbling. I was hoping that he would be okay and I'd be able to go back to nursing. But I can't. I want him to be happy. I want him to thrive.
My milk supply is getting very low. I know that I'm not going to have milk soon. It's so tough to accept that, very soon, I won't ever be able to nurse him ever again. I cry just thinking about it. Even though I shouldn't nurse him ever again anyway because he does so much better with a bottle, I still have hopes that I'll nurse him and he'll be fine. I think it's because I want it so badly.
I wrote this because most people that I know have never breastfed. No one understands why I'm sad about not breastfeeding him when he's doing so much better with a bottle. Even though I've mostly just pumped for the last 3 weeks, I'm getting sad that I won't be able to pump much longer because all hope to ever nurse him again will be gone. I just want some understanding and support, I guess.
Thanks for reading.