Before Maximus was born, I planned on breastfeeding. I didn’t set a timeframe on it. I just knew I was going to do everything I could to make it work. It was difficult in the beginning. VERY DIFFICULT. I stuck with it and wondered how I’d do it for what seemed like forever. All of a sudden we’d been doing it for four weeks and it was a lot better! Then I knew six months was a good goal. It was a long ways off, but I knew it was attainable. Then, we had made it six months and I saw a year being a wonderful goal. At this point I spent a lot of time with my pump, but it was a worthwhile sacrifice. I felt warm and content knowing that my son was taking a bottle made from my body. The control-freak in me loved to see that freezer full of milk for my boy. I was willing to sacrifice another six months of my life and body to benefit him. I exclusively nursed Maximus until he was almost 9 months old. (He was striving, content, and not really interested in food so I didn’t see the value in pushing it on him at six months. I knew he was getting the best nutrition from me.) Around 9 months we started feeding him solids. He was a little slow to get excited, but by 10 months he was doing good. He was about 50-50 on eating puree food and real solid foods. At 10 months and one day, I bought formula to supplement with during the day.
For weeks leading up to Maximus turning 10 months, I had been sick over the idea of using formula. (Disclosure: my opinions are not a judgement on formula-fed babies, but rather a desire for my own baby.) I tried everything I could to build my freezer stock back up but I wasn’t very successful. I limped along for almost a month. Eventually I just didn’t have any more in my freezer. I mentally beat myself up because I had gotten lazy about pumping during the day. I tried not to concentrate on what I was or wasn’t doing, but it was in my mind every day. I felt guilty for “letting” Maximus down. I felt like the floor was being taken out from under me. Mostly I felt an enormous amount of guilt. I didn’t feel guilt from Bryan or anyone else, but I still felt it.
The weekend of his month birthday, I knew I had to buy formula. I waited until the last moment. I finally left at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night. I did a little research, that only made me feel sick all over again, and then I bit the bullet. I quickly walked to the baby aisle and searched up and down the aisle. I felt like all eyes were on me. Judging me. I grabbed a small can and prayed I was buying the right one and that he’d like it. That can of formula burnt a hole in my arms the whole time I stood in the check-out line. I had a quick flash of what my life would have been like if I hadn’t breastfed. When I paid for the formula no one said anything. There were no spotlights on me. I walked out to the car and felt lighter. No one was judging me. No one even knew what I had just bought. No one told me I failed at providing for my baby. It wasn’t that bad. He was going to be fine. He was going to continue to grow. He was going to continue to thrive regardless of where his milk came from.
To my pleasure, he took his first bottle of formula at daycare and didn’t hesitate for a second. He guzzled the milk and moved on with his day. We decided not to ease in and try half breastmilk and half formula. I was afraid he would get stubborn and we’d waste liquid gold. At 10 months old, Maximus was getting two bottles of breastmilk and one bottle of formula at daycare. After a couple of weeks we transitioned to three bottles of formula at daycare. Over the month, he slowly dropped his morning bottle and barely takes his lunch bottle. We continue to nurse in the morning and evening. I don’t know when I’ll stop nursing. We both find a lot of comfort in nursing. I find comfort that I’m still supplying him with nutrients. For him, I am his comfort. Being a career mom means that I’ve seen more than just the mama’s boy. I know that nursing is his comfort in the sense that he feels the closest to me when he’s doing it. At times, he would get a bottle at 4 p.m. when he woke up from his nap. When I got home around 5, he’d fuss and cry until I nursed him. For a baby who eats every 3-4 hours, I knew what he was doing. He missed me and this was his opportunity to connect with me again.
I have found comfort and peace in what we are doing. Maximus is transitioning into less milk each day. He’s focused on solids and we are pushing liquids throughout the day. I am happy and satisfied with my body again. I feel like it’s not letting me down anymore. I know it’s producing what he needs right now. I’m happy that I didn’t quit. I would have felt like I was giving up. Knowing what I know now, I’m really happy that I kept going. As we have begun our 11th month of this breastfeeding relationship, I can see the goal in sight again!