Nov 30, 2010  •  In Baby, Claire, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

Last Week, I…

Quit breastfeeding.

Had to choose between quitting cold turkey and gradually quitting (by cutting out one pumping/nursing session every couple of days). Decided that engorgement pain is preferable to the razor-sharp pain from thrush I get every time my right breast is emptied. Smelled like cabbage soup as I stuffed my bra with cold cabbage leaves to help with the engorgement. Drank sage tea and Coke to help kill my milk supply. Regretted quitting more than once as my breasts became rock-hard and throbbed with pain. Leaked through numerous nursing pads, bras, and shirts.

Felt overwhelming guilt for not providing the best available nutrition for my child. Felt further burdened by “lactivists” online who likened formula to poison, who informed me that if I were not ready to make sacrifices for my child, I shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place.

Realized these women know squat about my life or my family.

Did research and discovered that while breastmilk is best, it is only marginally better. Most studies that tout the benefits of breastmilk (or formula, for that matter) are so flawed/biased that there really is no conclusive evidence that children who are formula-fed are any less smart or healthy, or vice-versa. Correlation ≠ causation.

Realized that some of the healthiest, smartest, and most talented people I know were formula-fed as babies. People who are Ivy League graduates, have great jobs, hold MBAs and PhDs, are at top physical shapes and rarely get sick.

Cried tears of relief as I put away my pumping supplies.

Shed a few more tears the first day that Claire went 100% formula. Told her how sorry I was and that I had failed her as a mommy, that she must be patient as I will most likely fail her many more times in the future. Watched as she happily sucked away at her bottle of Similac Sensitive and looked at me as if to say, “I forgive you.”

Bonded more with my daughter in 5 days than I had with her in the entire past month. Was able to hold her tight (despite the painful engorgement in my chest) and not dread my next nursing/pumping session.

Realized that I had been associating my baby with pain, and that was now a thing of the past.

Gorged on Thanksgiving dinner without worrying about whether a dish had dairy, seafood, beans, broccoli, and all the other foods I had cut from my diet.

Had my first glass of wine in over 11 months and enjoyed every last drop.

Still experience guilt time to time. Am dreading Claire’s 3rd month checkup this Friday when the pediatrician is sure to ask if I am still breastfeeding. Have been reading sites such as Fearless Formula Feeder for encouragement and support.

Hopes that no one will judge me for this decision. After all, doesn’t a happy mommy help lead to a happy baby?

41 Responses to “Last Week, I…”

  1. From the pain and suffering you've described, I'd never have lasted as long as you did. Good for you for making the healthy and rational choice for yourself and your baby. Like you said, if mommy's unhappy, she can't be the best mommy. Sounds like things are already looking up for you and Claire. [I think my mom made it ~2 months before she switched me to formula, and I turned out OK!]

  2. Bonnie:

    Good for you! Many of my friends have done the same thing and NO ONE has any regrets. Also, my bro and I were totally formula-fed and we turned out fine! :)

  3. Lina:

    HI! I followed your blog for some time now, and this is the first time I comment!
    Congrats on being happy again with your baby! And just feel good to stop breastfeeding. I did the same after 2 weeks of breastfeeding and I don't think my child is more deprived than other. As a mother, I think we should simply do what we feel good for our baby and not what society tell us to do!

  4. Don't feel bad. What's best for your baby is absolutely you being with her, present and loving and enjoying her babyhood. Boob or no boob!

  5. You know what is best. Good for you Jenny! I agree that now you can have more positive feelings about your baby which is really important since that bond is so important.

  6. Christine:

    Congrats! I'm glad you're doing something that will be good for both you and your baby. I went into pre-mature labor and ended up having my baby four weeks early. Now that I'm nursing, I'm so engorged and the pain is killing me. I'm not sure if I have blocked ducts or not but its making me consider nursing only until i go back to work Best wishes to you guys!

  7. A happy mom is a better mom. Have you read "The Case Against Breastfeeding?" The content isn't as sensational as the title. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/04/the-case-against-breast-feeding/7311/

  8. anon:

    One of you was lazy and impatient, but it wasn’t your daughter.

    • Get a life. According to your IP you live somewhere in Oregon so I’m going to assume that I do not know you, and since this is a fairly old post I’m going to assume you’re probably someone who just happened to stumble on this site. Why do you feel the need to say such things to someone you do not know, or whose situation you do not know fully? At least have the guts to use your real name and/or email address because that’s what people who have valid arguments they can back up do. People like you are the reason countries like South Korea have such strict cyberbullying laws, where one needs a valid ID to do practically anything online. So thanks for bringing up old wounds, and thanks for making my crappy afternoon even crappier. But just in case you’re wondering, my daughter is doing JUST fine and dandy, she has NEVER been sick, and everyone (including strangers) comments on how smart she is already for her age.

  9. Adeline:

    Hi. Can I ask how long does the engorgement period last? I am currently quitting breast feeding cold turkey. The pain is unbearable. I take vicodin and ibuprofen as needed. I just want to know how much longer do I need to tough it out. In my opinion, this is more painful than childbirth!

    • If I remember correctly, I had INTENSE pain for about 4 days, and the pain lessened somewhat but was still pretty bothersome for about a week. The engorgement didn’t completely go down until 2-3 weeks. Sorry you’re going through this — I remember how painful it was and I can completely sympathize!

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