Thursday, August 21, 2008

To Nurse or Not?

Most of you know that I have thoroughly enjoyed breastfeeding.

Enjoyed is probably to light of a word.

I loved it.

Ella loved it.

All was going great. And then we hit a road block. A road block called cancer.

Stupid cancer.

Last Monday was my last day to nurse Ella. She, of course, had no idea that it would be our last time.

No clue.

I told her, I tried to prepare her, but alas, she didn't listen.

Instead, she continues to scream when I try to give her a bottle.

She tries to bite my boob through my shirt, and trying to get her to nap has been pure torture.

I hate that I can't nurse. I hate that I can't calm her down. I hate that I can't get her to sleep. I hate that I am still producing milk by the buckets.

I knew that I was making a lot of milk, but seriously, this is crazy. I am still needing to pump once a day or else I am in some major pain. I hate that too.

When Ella was around a month old I started pumping and storing. I have a TON of milk stored up. Which ended up being a blessing in disguise. Even though I am not nursing her myself she is still getting breast milk. But let's face it, I wasn't breastfeeding her solely for the benefits of the breast milk. I was nursing her because it was something that Ella and I could do together and nobody could take it away from me.

And then someone did. Cancer stole it from me. Stupid cancer. It should not have the right to do that. It really shouldn't. It took away something that was precious, a bond that I loved.

I know it could be worse. It could have taken away me. Now that would be bad. I suppose I should be happy that all cancer has taken from me right now is breastfeeding. Even though I wish it would not have stolen that from me, it could have been so much worse. Hopefully, Ella will decide that taking a bottle from mommy is an ok thing to do. For now I'll just keep trying.

I was able to nurse her for 7 months. That is 3 months longer then I nursed Kyler. 7 months isn't too bad. It's not 5 years, but it's something right?

Now I'm curious about all of you.

Did you nurse? If so, how long?

If you chose not to nurse would you mind sharing why you made that choice?


Lisa said...

I nursed both girls for a little over a year. With Goosey that was not my initial plan. But it worked so well and was so easy, and she was thriving....and would NOT take a bottle. With Lulu I knew I would try & nurse for a year. I had loved it with Goosey & I wanted that love and bond with Lulu too.

We're going to try for #3 soon - something that got moved up on our calendar a bit because of my MS. And I worry that I won't be able to nurse that baby for long because I'll need to get on medicine. I struggle with that, and my husband really struggles with it too - like we'd be cheating that baby out of something. the long run it would be fine, they would be fine, we'd be fine, etc. I just have to be thankful for all we do have, you know?

Try & soak up the wonderful times you had nursing Ella, and think of what a blessing it is that others can help you so much now with the bottles. Easier said than done, I know...but try ;)

Jenny said...

I nursed Will for about a month or so. I wanted to do it longer but I was losing weight really quickly and not getting enough calories myself. I became anemic, started bruising really easily. So I stopped. My husband and I thought it was the best thing for both Will and myself. He got the important stuff. The transition was not too hard b/c he was young but it took his bowels awhile to adjust to it.
Next time around, I know what to expect and what I really need to prepare for. So I am going to give it a lot more effort.
Just remember the snuggly moments that you had with Ella, those were your moments and know one can take them away. You need your rest as much as possible and now others can help you out with her feedings if you want them to.
Have a great always our prayers are with you.

Chelle said...

I nursed Isabella for 4 months and loved it! I stopped at 4months because I was on a new medication that was drying up my supply which made Isabella wean and be very hungry.
I totally miss it and I know how hard this must be for the two of you. Sending you (((hugs))) and treasure those months that only the two of you shared with one another.

amanda said...

my goal was to make it to a year. now here we are two months away and the thought of weaning her freaks me out.

i am not ready to let go.

i can't imagine friend. and i am sorry that on top of everything else you are having to deal with this.

eventually she will figure it out and treasure mommy time just like she used to - promise :)

Mrs. Staff Sergeant said...

I nursed my first for 5 months. My second for only a measly 8 weeks- and I admit it was because I was lazy. We were in the middle of a military cross country move and he was still up every 2 hours to eat. I was beyond exhausted and finally gave him a bottle and he slept 6 hours straight. That was the end of that :P.....With our new baby coming I'm determined to do better. I know it's the healthiest option for her.

When my oldest son was fighting kidney cancer at age 2 I had feelings that remind me of your sadness now about nursing. It was a reversed situation from yours (as I was not the one who was sick) but I also felt that there were many "milestones" and special moments that cancer had stolen from us. I didn't get to see Dillon grow from babyhood to little boy the way he should have- he was too sick to do what others his age were doing....But I learned to focus on the positives in each day. Sounds like you're trying to do the same :)

I'm so sorry that you're struggling through this! My heart just breaks for you in the unfairness of it all. Someday you'll look back on this time victorious and stronger than you've ever been!

Please know that I'm praying for you and continue to follow your updates, even if I don't always have a chance to comment.


Hailey said...

I nursed Caroline for 8 weeks without supplementing with formula. Then at about 10 weeks my milk decided it didn't want to come in anymore. I don't think I was eating enough calories for two. I stressed the first two weeks of nursing. Caroline was stubborn and would only nurse with a shield. After the first two weeks though, I enjoyed the time she and I were able to spend together that no one could take away (like you said). I only wish I could have nursed as long as you have. Be glad you were able to nurse 7 months not just 10 little weeks. :-) Hope all is well with you. Stay strong!

Becks said...

I understand your pain. Well kind of. I wanted to nurse Sophia so bad. I couldnt wait to share that bond. Unfortunatley even with all my efforts I never produced enough milk. I barely had any. I tried for almost 3 months..pumping, nursing,taking pills to increase the milk, going to breastfeeding clinics. But nothing worked. I was so sad. Sophia was premature so I had to feed her formula and it was truly exhausting trying so hard. I hope with all my heart that next baby I can Breastfeed. At least you had those 7 wonderful months feeding Ella. She will learn to love the bottle and you still get to snuggle and have close time while feeding her. She is one lucky baby girl to have you as her momma!!

I hope you are feeling ok today and's almost Sunday.

Deborah said...

I've never had kids, have never nursed, but I wanted to say that I think it sucks that stupid cancer has taken something from you that you loved so much. All the more reason to kick it in the a**s!!

Val said...

I don't know how I came across your blog...but I have been lurking for a while now. Anyway, I HAD to comment....and although I didn't have cancer, I couldn't nurse for medical reasons also.

I take medication for my heart...nothing serious, but still, it is a daily thing. Anyway, I was told that I couldn't nurse without subjecting my babies to the meds which would in turn slow their heart rate. They weren't sure EXACTLY how they would be affected or how serious but knew it would be passed on.
We made the decision, if there was one really, to not nurse. My kids were fed formula from day one. What really got to me was having to explain myself over and over again to not only the ped doc but to other Mothers. Once they heard I couldn't nurse, the comment I got most was, well at least you didn't CHOOSE to use formula. As if it was a crime! THAT is what irked me.

Finally for my comment....sorry, long winded! Anyway, my thoughts were how blessed you were to have 7 wonderful months of nursing. That thought just might get you through the tough times ahead with the weaning. Just imagine all those times you shared, just the two of you. The road may seem long and daunting now, and heart breaking during the process, but in the end, you are doing a wonderful job as a Mother.

Jen said...

First off, I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with both cancer and weaning your daughter. It must be so hard on both of you. :(

I have two kids. When my son was born, I tried nursing him for two weeks, but he just wanted no parts of it. He would scream bloody murder every time I put him to my breast. Can you imagine how that made me feel. I tried the tube and pumped and did cup feedings, but finally gave in a just gave him a bottle. He loved it, of course. So, I decided to let go of the dream that I had of nursing him. It was very hard and I think it affected our bond a little. I don't hold it against him but I think he may have felt my stress during those early weeks and now holds it against me. I did enjoy bottle feeding him, though.

When my daughter was born I decided that I wasn't going to make such a big deal out of it. If she took to nursing in the hospital, great. If not, she was going to be bottle fed. I was not about to go through the same stress again. Luckily, she loved nursing and had no problems. I nursed her for 19 months. Weaning was really easy. One day she just said "no milk" and that was it. I'm so glad that I had that experience, but I will say that I don't look down on anyone who bottlefeeds since I had the other experience and no that nursing just doesn't work for everyone.

Hang in there!

Andrea said...

The first baby was adopted so I didn' get to nurse :( the second baby I only got to nurse/pump for 4.5 months and I had to stop to the medications I needed to restart taking. I was so sad nad tried to hold off as long as I could before major organs were starting to shut down. I still have old Bm in my fridge and it maked me too sad to toss it.
Alex is now 8 months and still tries to nurse! I know that Alex may be the only biological baby I can have so I am still heart broken about the nursing!

The Mrs. said...

I nursed both my boys for a year. Both took to it like ducks to water, my husband jokes that they are boob men already. I had heard from a lot of people that it was tough so my goal was at least three months, then at least six months but really it was so easy, no real speedbumps to deal with that it lasted the whole first year.

Then I was worried about weaning but again both boys did the dirty work for me. both started to wean themselves at about 11 mths so by the time they were a year they were quite fine with the idea of a sippy cup and cow juice.

Seven months is still fantastic, but I'm sure its the fact that you werent ending it on your terms thats the hardest. You do what you have to do for yourself and your kids and no doubt you will have other special moments between the two of you.

Anonymous said...

I nursed all of mine for varying lengths of time. I was only able to breasfteed my oldest for a couple of weeks. My middle son was nursed for almost 7 months and my I just offically stopped nursing my younges when he hit 20 months although he will still ask for it some bedtimes. He would never take a bottle either -- have you tried putting your milk in a sippy cup or perhaps in a regular cup with a straw. That worked for us. Good luck with it. She'll be fine. Be proud of yourself that you were able to do it as long as you were. Hugs.

Christy said...

Porgie had latch issues and didn't regain her birth weight for FOUR weeks. The pediatrician basically took me I HAD to start giving her formula because she was not thriving. Ugh - it makes me sick just typing those words - "not thriving."

I left the office in tears. I bought a can of formula and rented a hospital grade breast pump. I pumped every two hours during the day for 6 MONTHS. Porgie had breastmilk in a bottle during the day and formula during the night.

Izzy, on the other hand, has been a breastfeeding champion. We have been nursing for 9 months, and I plan on continuing until he is at least 15 months. I don't know why, but I am so proud of the fact that he has never had formula.

Jamie said...

OK, I know I'm the odd ball here but I did not nurse and I had no desire to. I don't want you to think I am a bad mommy - I love my children with all of me - but I knew that if I had no desire it would be miserable for my and for them. I am not sure of my could be that I was not breastfed as a child, or that I wanted my husband to share in that "bonding time" too. I don't know. I think it's FANTASTIC that women breast feed and I you all have my 100% support. I have absolutely nothing against it and I hurt for you because I know it is something you loved dearly. You continue to be in my prayers.


Crawford Crew said...

It's so not fair that cancer has to ruin such a simple sweet joy in you're life. I am so sorry.

I nursed my first baby for 16 months. I hated to give it up then, but we were ready.

My second baby, I am going on 7 months, and don't plan to quit.

The only thing I don't like about it is how un-nursing-friendly the world is. I hate going to find a bathroom when my babies need food. Yuck.

You totally don't know me, but I am rooting for you to win against the beast! You seem so strong, I have no doubt you can do it :)
Best wishes, Mari

Danielle (Life with the Hewitt Family) said...

I nursed my son for 13 months. I loved the special time between the two of us and nursing was so fullfilling for me because I was the only one that could give him that comfort. I nursed exclusively for about 9 months and then started needing to supplement because I could not keep up. Weening him was not too bad for us...I think it was harder on me than him.

Gook Luck and Stay Strong!

Sally said...

My son is 4 1/2 months old, and I'm still nursing him - with a shield. It's not the most convenient way to nurse, but I REALLY want him to have breast milk. I love our time together, and I don't know how long we'll go, but I'll let him least a year, I hope.

I did a post on breastfeeding a while's the link if you're interested:

I'm sorry you had to stop nursing. I can't imagine having to stop like that. I'm glad you have some milk to give Ella, but I'm sure you're missing that special nursing time with her.

Shannon said...

Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry for you. My heart really just aches reading this. I wish I could change your situation . . . completely.

I nursed my first two boys for over a year each, and Leah is still going strong so I'll nurse her until she wants to wean.

Hang in there, I check in every day waiting to hear the good news that I know will be coming!!

Lewis Family said...

(Obviously CANCER and Graves Disease are not the same, but I think we share alot of the same emotions)

I nursed Cade for 11 months and was forced to stop because I was diagnosed with an unfortunate thryod disease.

I was so angry!

I hated the doctors for making me stop, I hated the medicine for making me stop, I hated the disease for making me stop.


(I don't really love being told what to do.)

After that Cade did not want to take a bottle, so I switched him to regular milk in a sippy cup.

I'm not sure I will ever get over my resentful feeling of stopping breastfeeding before I was ready, but I CAN remember how wonderful our time was together.

Remember you are and were willing to be so selfless and give your child a wonderful gift. Your kids have a wonderful mommmy.

Tammy said...

I nursed both of my boys until they were about 19 months..they didn't want to give it up..and really, neither did I! I loved is a special bond that only you have with them!
I am so sorry you are going through must be so hard! Hang in there girl!

Jacquie said...

I tried to nurse my first daughter but she ended up with nipple confusion. I pumped for 3 weeks and supplemented with formula. After 3 weeks, I was exhausted and frustrated so we switched to only formula.

By the time I had my second daughter, almost 5 years later, I was unbelieveably determined to breastfeed and had read everything and talked to everyone I could to get some ideas for success.

As a result, my daughter was born at 1:00 am and was nursing by the time she was 20 minutes old. We continued that until I had to leave for a week to do clinicals out of town for nursing school. She was 23 months old. I know that seems like a long time but I was in my first year of nursing school and it meant so much to have that time together.

Now, as an OB nurse, I encourage my moms to breastfeed but respect each person's decision. I love helping moms and babies learn to nurse and remind my moms that it is a learned talent.

I am so sorry that you have lost that special time with your girl but you will find other little ways for it to be just the two of you. Surely she's about ready to teach about retail therapy!!!!

Keep fighting, girl. I know you can beat this.

Jacquie, RN

chelasheila said...

Hi Heather. I have so enjoyed reading your blogs. You make me laugh and cry. I have had you in my thoughts so much. As you know I nursed Tristan for a little over 2 years. I loved every minute of it and was so sad when I finally decided it was time to quit. It was hard on both of us. So many people gave me shit over nursing for so long that I finally nursed him in secret for the last several months and didn't tell anyone. I am so sorry that you had to quit nursing you daughter. I nursed Taegan a little over a year. He wasn't as into it and it didn't bother him at all to quit. He was biting really bad too. Funny thing is that Tristan is such a Mommy's boy and Taegan is such a daddy's boy. I always wonder if it was because I nursed Tristan for so long. He still lays beside me all the time and puts his hands under my shirt to feel my skin. He says I am so soft and comfy. Nursing is definitely an attachment like none other. It would be a huge reason for me to have another child. I absolutely loved it. I was big into going to the Breastfeeding Clinic every week to give others encouragement and hang out with other breastfeeding mothers too. Hang in there girl. I am so proud of you for staying so strong for your beautiful children.
Sheila Kelley

Melissa Wollman said...

you don't know me, so I hope you don't mind if I comment. I've been here a few times, and have heard about your blog from a few of my friends (Rachael, Carol, and Shannon).

I'm so sorry that cancer stole breastfeeding from you! Breastfeeding has been my most treasured part of having a baby. Like you said, it's something that only you can do for your baby, and it's such a special time to spend with them.

I nursed my daughter for 15 months. I had planned to go to 18 months, but circumstances prevented that. I plan to do the same with my son, but as long as we make it past 12 months, I'll be happy.

AMY said...

I never could get my first colicky baby (I've had three) to nurse. So on my 2nd baby, I stuck it out for three months of hell. Then my body finally figured it out and I nursed for 15 months, I never planned to nurse that long, but I loved it. I'm am still nursing my 3rd baby who is almost 14 months. My family think I'm crazy and weird for still nursing. But it is a bond and he's still a baby, so why should I stop if I don't have too?

I have been inspired reading your blog. I cannot empathize, because I have no idea what you are going through. Thank you for sharing your joy and pain with us through your journey to beat cancer. Reading real life experiences like yours, makes me realize how impatient and ungrateful I often am with my three little people. You never know what will happen in life. Life is just not fair! You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

mom2natnkatncj said...

I so feel your pain here. I was forced to stop nursing as well. Not for the same awful reason you had to stop, but it was way too soon for me. I had to stop nursing my son because the doctor felt I wasn't producing enough milk. And since my son wasn't gaining weight we had to start giving him high calorie formula. In hindsight now I think I could have and should have continued nursing, but now it's too late. So I stopped when my son was 3 months old. I still miss it to this day (he's almost 10 months old). He is thriving now though. I felt like such a failure though. Doesn't help when doctors are telling you that you are starving your baby. If I could go back and change things there would have been a lot of things I would have changed from day one with him. He was actually the one I breastfed the longest though. I never started with my oldest because I was going back to work and leaving her with my SIL who had a child just six weeks older than mine. So I thought one if she didn't take to the bottle that would be hard on her plus the extra feedings would have made it hard. My second I did breastfeed, but only for three days. She stopped latching on. So I was so proud of myself that I made it through those first two weeks even which were the hardest. I won't give you any of the responses I got from people when I stopped because they just didn't help. It all around just sucks!

Anonymous said...

I breastfed each of my 3 girls for a about a year. My current baby has just weaned herself - she quit, just didn't want it anymore - at 11 months and 1 week. I missed it for the first few days but now all the milk has finally dried up, i feel great. I've never done formula and baby number 3 refuses bottles of anything, so she drinks from a cup. Breastfeeding worked for me. It doesn't work for some people, but I would always encourage it where I could!

Wendi said...

Oh Heather...I am sorry you are faced with this right now.
Stupid Cancer!
I nursed all three of mine.
The first for 3 months.
The second and third for 1 year each.
I stopped at the 1 year mark just because that is what my goal was.
I started weening them around their first birthday.
They did fine.
It was hard at first...but we got through it.
7 months really is a long time.
You had some great bonding time with her and there is plenty more to come.
I still rocked my babies and read to them and cuddled with them, long after the nursing was will too!

Kelli said...

I'm sorry this has been taken from you, but seven months is awesome!

I think the average is something like 4 or 5 months. You've far exceeded that! And I'm impressed you have so much stored up in your freezer. I did not enjoy pump wasn't that great.

Weaning is hard though...I think it was harder for me than my babies. They were both @ 13 months old.

Funny thing is two year old son still just loves to be right against my skin. Like if I have a V-neck shirt or a tank top on, he'll lay his cheek right against me and just snuggle. He really likes the closeness.

I'm sure your baby girl would love the extra snuggle time with mama. :)

Erica said...

I just came across your blog tonight. I'm very sorry that cancer had to sweep in here and take away something that is precious to you and your baby :( My heart aches for you.

I have nursed all 4 of my boys. To put it easily, I have a lot of years under my belt and believe in self-weaning and extended breastfeeding. Not extended breastfeeding by American standards, lol. I am by the WHO standards, 2 years and up.

My first did not breastfeed nearly as long as my last 3 have, due mainly to a lack of education on the matter.

My youngest is going to be a year old soon and we are no where close to being done. I hope he nurses until at least the age of 2.

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