Thursday, September 15, 2011

Breastfeeding {Part 4} - The end of an era

Two years.
That's how long I wanted to breastfeed.
At the minimum, and only because they're twins and I accepted that twins are more difficult, I planned on nursing until the boys were one.

And now. Suddenly.
I think I'm done.

It breaks my heart a little.  I've come to really love breastfeeding the boys one on one, and being close to them. Holding them. Feeling them. Nourishing, loving, and bonding with them.

And then, one fine day (Fridayish) Micah decided that he hated to nurse and that if I tried to give him the boob instead of a bottle he would scream and scream and scream.
And little tears squeezed out of his eyes and ran down his face. And his cheeks turned reddish-purple. And his breath got ragged and short.
And he kept on screaming while I squirted him in the face with milk because my body was so eager to feed him.

This has happened every single time I've tried to nurse him since then, except very early in the morning (6am or so) when he will happily latch on and nurse for about three minutes before the screaming begins.

And then one fine day (Sunday, I believe) Grey decided that if Micah didn't have to nurse anymore, then neither did he.
He doesn't scream like Micah does, but he clamps his little mouth shut and turns his face away from me and refuses to eat until I bring him a nice, fat bottle.

So. Now they eat from bottles, I guess.
And since there was no gradual decrease in nursing, my breasts are like giant, sore cannon balls. Or overfull water balloons.
Or um... rock-hard, extremely-painful, highly milk-filled breasts.
And they hurt so bad that I cry when I pump and I can't sleep on my side and I got up at 5am (sans babies) to sit in bed with ice packs on my chest.
And when I hold my babies (which is very painful) they squirm around and are uncomfortable and I find myself saying things like "Boobs, you make a better rock than a pillow," which is kind of nonsensical but true.

And I feel weird.
Mostly that's it. I feel strange about not breastfeeding, more than I feel sad or relieved.
It just seems wrong. Out of place. I should be breastfeeding, right? What the heck are these ugly, stretch-marked, sore, explosive things for if I'm not even breastfeeding my children?

Yesterday a friend said "I nursed my baby until she was a year and a half and still felt guilty quitting."
So how do I get over the guilt, the disappointment, and the strangeness of not nursing?
It just came upon me so suddenly, I didn't have time to prepare to stop.
And my body didn't prepare for this either, so if you have any tips for decreasing one's milk supply I'd greatly appreciate it.

I breastfed successfully and almost even exclusively until the boys were 6 months old.
Which, since I have twins, is like a year's worth of breastfeeding.


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Anonymous said...

However long you can/chose/want to brestfeed is good enough! It's great it's wonderful! You've given your babies 6 wonderful months of the best thing out there for them! I can relate to your strangeness to a certain degree. I BF my son until he was 12m1w and we both had decided it was time. I figured if he wanted to keep going I would let him, but he never wanted to after that.

Sometimes babies just decide that they don't want to anymore. I've had 2 friends whose babies decided as well at 6 months that they didn't want to BF anymore. You certainly can't make them (in my experience) but it also might be a phase? You can keep doesn't hurt!

Also, if you are going to wean or stop...try cold green cabbage leaves on your boobs - it works WONDERS! You will leak out all your excess milk and leaked milk is not replaced milk which is a bonus!

Nurse Loves Farmer

Kristy said...

Ditto the cabbage leaf suggestion--it's weird but it really does work! I'm sorry things didn't work out according to plan--I know how that goes. I'm sorry that you're in pain--I know it doesn't help, but it really only lasts a few days and then you'll be back to normal, hopefully! You gave them 6 wonderful months of should be jumping in the air proud of yourself for that accomplishment!

Tammy said...

Scarlett did the same thing to me. It is heartbreaking! It was harder with Eva though because I had to ween her and refuse her when she so badly wanted it. It was awful! So there is a small silver lining if that helps.

What worked best for me is to just let Eva nurse for a minute and help my boobs to feel better but not empty. Your body gets that it doesn't need to produce as much milk and it will fade away.

Becoming Supermommy said...

You did great.

Something that singleton mommies just plain don't understand is the extra difficulties of nursing twins. Even pro-nursers, who tandem nursed different aged children. It's just plain not the same.

Are there ways to keep your kids nursing? Yes. Should you do those things? Only if it's what makes your life easiest, happiest, and healthiest.

My twins self weaned at over 9 months old. I know exactly how you feel. It kind of breaks your heart. And the same time, it's kind of a relief. A freedom. But a sad freedom.

I have the same hopes for you that I did for me at this time: I hope you have as many more children as you desire, and they all find a less painful way to stop nursing. Whatever that may be.

Also, to your reader Tammy... I know a lady with girls named Scarlett and Eva! Such sweet names!!!

Polly said...

Your whole life will be filled with things your children spring on you suddenly and your not prepared. You will feel better in a couple of days, I'm sorry that your sore. That's no fun. I don't have any advice that I can think of. The boys will get more and more independent and my guess is Micah will always be the first to exert his independence. So snuggle Grey extra if he lets you. At least you have two. You were pushing away from me with all your strength at that age and would never snuggle. Luckily Mary snuggled me when she came along, although now she's the one that pushes away.

Krystle said...

I can totally related. I wanted to nurse them for a year. I nursed all through their NICU time and while at home caring for a 2 1/2 year old. It was the HARDEST thing I have EVER done!
About 4 months is when they began having issues. I tried to get my supply up, but they were just done. So I actually pumped for another month and used all my frozen milk. So we made it basically 5 months. And yes I felt guilty, but I think it's normal. It's a very special bond. After about a week of not, it actually felt nice to have that freedom as strange as it sounds.

It was a season, a beautiful season.
I think that anyone who nurses twins is amazing. No matter how long you do it.

It is freaking hard work. Breastfeeding in general is. So, try not to beat yourself up. You did incredible to make it as far as you did! Some don't even try!!

Betsy Hite Reddoch said...

I think you deserve a big high five! I was never able to breastfeed my twins because they got hooked on the bottle in the NICU. I even stopped pumping at 6 weeks because it was just too hard to do that, care for the boys and work. Anyway, no real suggestion about decreasing your supply - mine just vanished the moment I decided to stop pumping (lucky me?). Good luck!

Unknown said...

Ditto the cabbage leaves suggestion! Also, keep pumping to relieve the pressure, but not long enough to empty the breasts. And save that milk! You did great--most twin moms I know don't make it past a month of BF! :)

Anonymous said...

If you really really want to keep breastfeeding, I suggest talking with a lactation consultant/other professional about ways to get your babes re-interested in the breast. Otherwise if you don't care so much about them actually being on the breast but don't want to switch to formula, then you have the option of pumping and that way your boys can feed from the bottle. Good luck with whatever you decide!

Celia said...

You are amazing, Beckie! Six months is forever long when you have twins! As for the rock-hard chest, I feel your pain (or I have felt some of that pain). I remember sobbing in the shower as I tried to relieve some of the pressure. Those are some of the mommy memories I try NOT to think about. What did work for me is pumping and gradually reducing the amount I pumped daily. Within 10 days or so, my milk was gone and it wasn't too painful.

Anyway, you are a rock star. Congrats on making it so long! You should be proud of yourself :)

Bella Claybourne said...

I couldn't imagine breastfeeding twins for six months. That is amazing! My little one is younger than your two, and while I'm still breastfeeding (he's only 7 weeks today) I have several friends who decided not the breastfeed and they swore that "wearing a tight sports bra, ice backing your boobs, eating peppermint and parsley, and taking any decongestant that has Pseudoephedrine which is the "d" in the medicine" will help dry you up. Congrats on making it this long!

Unknown said...

if you want to continue to breastfeed, you can buy a breastpump and pump then transfer the milk into their bottle. My 2 months old boy does the same thing like your boys do, as a result I have to pump regularly so that I don't get much pain or bigger breasts. You should pump every 2 to 3 hours a day, pumping will help reduce the pain. God bless the twins they are so beautiful

Sugardrive said...

Becky-You gave the boys something so special. You done good. I wish I could say something that would make you feel better, but the truth is, as much as I love most aspects of breastfeeding, the few things that I don't like are teaming up and breaking me. The exhaustion, so so sore nipples from biting, pumping at work, babies ripping at my top to try and pull it off. I guess my point is that I feel guilty saying that I want to quit when you didn't want to but the boys did. Are you still pumping for them, or weaning? I've always said to my husband that I'll wean when they are ready. Although I want to nurse as long as possible, it really is up to them.

Also....thought I'd mention, that they may just be on a nursing strike. If you haven't yet, check out and see what they have to say.

Kristi said...

Ditto the comment from AmyS.
It could be a nursing strike or teething or maybe your milk composition is changing. . ..but a lactation consultant may be worth talking to!

miccolene said...

I've never commented on you blog before, leave it to breastfeeding to get me out of the lurker closet. My two cents:

1. You should feel amazing for nursing those babies for six months. ah-mazing.
2. There are some other women who would be SO JEALOUS you made it so far! Is that weird of me to say? It's a big deal.
3. When my baby was done, she was done. There was nothing I could do to trick her into nursing. Babies have opinions.
4. For me, I felt so guilty, but the guilt went away when I saw how happy she was.

Don't beat yourself up. Congratulate yourself. And buy some new bras.

Bonnie said...

Breastfeeding is hard work. You are awesome. Also, I'm sure your boobs hurt more than normal because you produce twice the milk as others. and I'm sorry! I decreased by doing every other bottle a pumped bottle... and then every three bottles. And then once a day. Still hurt like crap, but the more you pump, the more you're going to make! Try ice packs and ace bandages.

Little Gray Pixel said...

There is nothing shameful about breastfeeding for six months. It's an accomplishment. Try to look at it with pride, not guilt.

I had to wean my baby after four months because my supply plummeted when I returned to work. My heart ached for a good few weeks; I felt the guilt, I felt inadequate. But guess what? Now I feel great. Baby is healthy! When your hormones calm down, you will see things with a clearer head.

Good luck getting the engorgement down, mama, and pat yourself on the back for your six months of hard work.