The end of an era: I am no longer pumping and my baby has transitioned full time to formula. I am not sure what happened. At about 4 months postpartum, I began what feels like another rollercoaster ride of hormonal changes. I am losing SO MUCH HAIR and I have read enough and talked to enough new moms to know this is normal but it still sucks. It doesn't look so bad when my hair is down. Except my son has discovered pulling my hair is SUPER FUN so I have to wear it up all the time which means everyone gets to check out the bald patches on either side of my scalp. Rejoice! In the end, it is just temporary and my hair will grow back and none of that matters when I have a baby demanding my attention!
In addition to hair loss and smelling like vomit all day, all that postpartum anxiety has seemed to come rushing back with a vengeance. And then it happened. My milk supply took a severe nosedive. I used to be so confident. I was pumping about 36 ounces a day and John was drinking about 30 ounces so I always had milk to put in the freezer. Then he hit a growth spurt at the same time that my milk started to decrease and wouldn't you know, the freezer stash was depleting rapidly before my eyes. I couldn't keep up. It was frustrating and, while it seems like a dramatic word to use, it felt scary because this was his food!
My goal was to feed John breast milk for the first six months of his life. I pride myself on usually achieving exactly what I set out to do. My pregnancy was emotionally way off base from how I anticipated it to be. My labor and delivery was WAY off the mark. Breastfeeding was a variation. I felt so desperate to make something go the way I planned. So I got down to business. I baked lactation cookies. I took a supplement that made both my son and I have horrible gas (that was short lived). I ate expensive lactation treats like Boobie Bars and Emergency Brownies. I drank teas. I ate so much oatmeal that I felt like puking from how full I was. I rented a hospital grade pump. I power pumped (20 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on- an hour of pumping). I added a middle of the night pumping session back in (UGGGGGH zombie mode). I had one amazing day where my spirits soared as I pumped the full 32 ounces John needed. Then it became 30. 27. 24. 20. you get the picture. I would pump and eat oats and drink tea and pump and cry and pump and thaw another freezer bag and pump. At John's pediatrician checkup, she asked me "does the word formula hurt your soul?" I laughed because she just seemed to get me. She very rationally explained how formula was not as evil as I thought it to be and that supplementing would help me relieve my stress (as she stated, "I LOVE RELIEVING STRESS.") And it clicked for me then. I loved relieving stress too. I remembered this meme I saw once that said something to the effect of doing your best does not mean driving yourself crazy. DING DING DING. The lightbulb went off.
So I started supplementing and my milk continued to drop. And can I just tell you, my baby was all about the formula! He responded really well to it. It made it easier for us to get out of the house the more my pumping sessions dwindled. I was able to spend more time with him because I wasn't chained to the pump. I felt sad about it but I realized that sadness was really more about me. He liked the formula. He wasn't hungry like when he was getting milk that wasn't full of fat. And bonus: the formula had iron in it for him. All his vitamins were there. He didn't care about anything as long as he was well fed and I decided I shouldn't either. After all, a well fed baby is a happy baby and a happy and healthy baby is all that matters. Shortly after he turned 5 months old, the milk stash was gone and he was transitioned fully to formula. I stopped pumping because I was only getting an ounce a day. I had fallen one month short of my goal in the end but we now can spend more time together and go more places without me being stressed about it. When one door closes, another door opens. His face still lights up when he sees his bottle and I still get to cuddle him and feed him. It continues to only go up from here. I am really looking forward to our next chapter together.