Zach turned four months old on Sunday.
This was a big month in our house and in Zachary’s life, for a bunch of reasons. He took his first vacation with his crazy family (sorry about all that car time, dude. I know you weren’t a very big fan.). He reached a bunch of milestones. He mastered rolling over, belly to back (so Tummy Time is basically over for him!)
He now grabs purposefully at things, laughs and squeals readily (he sounds not unlike a donkey, we’ve decided), and is ALMOST ready to roll over belly to back.
But the biggest change this month is that we stopped breastfeeding. It’s a long boring story, really, and it started around the end of June. He started not wanting to nurse for longer than a few minutes on each side, through the first let down and then after that he just got mad and wouldn’t relatch. While it worried me a little, I took comfort in the fact that LOTS of babies are efficient nursers and I should feel lucky that he’s so quick! And he seemed satisfied, lots of wet and dirty diapers, sleeping like normal, etc. And everything WAS fine for a while, I think. But gradually, my supply decreased, so slowly that I didn’t even notice it at first. Then he started the 4-month growth spurt and ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. While we were on vacation, things got pretty ridiculous. I would fight with him for 20-30 minutes to latch, then he’d eat for 2 minutes, then refuse to relatch. Rinse, repeat. I chalked it up to being away from home (which it may have been a little of that) but deep down, I knew something was up. I ended up giving him a few bottles while we were there, just to get him to eat SOMETHING so that he would relax a bit. He was just super restless and wouldn’t nap, wouldn’t even let us put him down for more than a few minutes, which was very unlike him.
Fast forward to the drive home from the beach, a terrible night of sleep in the hotel, and then a RIDICULOUS first night back at home where he woke up every 90 minutes and then wouldn’t nurse. I gave him two bottles that night and was at the END OF MY ROPE. Exhausted and frustrated and just wanting someone ELSE to deal with it all. Then that next afternoon, he nursed and napped for about 2 hours. When I changed his diaper upon wake-up, it was COMPLETELY DRY and it had been at least 3 hours since his last change. Right then I decided I was done fighting with him to breastfeed. He was HUNGRY and ANGRY and I was frustrated and exhausted and he wasn’t peeing and it just seemed so STUPID all of a sudden.
So that was it. I gave him bottles of pumped milk I had frozen (only like 9 oz because my pumping output has always been awful) and started using formula and whatever I could pump each day. I tried pumping more throughout that week but had trouble finding time more than first thing in the morning and before bedtime, so within 4 days, I barely got anything at all and didn’t even feel the need to pump. Last Monday was my last pumping session and my milk was gone.
I am still working through my feelings about this. Mostly- and I’ll be honest- I feel relieved. Breastfeeding a baby who doesn’t always cooperate while two other kids are running around the house was hard. There were days when I hated hated hated it. I do terribly sometimes with being the Only One Who Can Feed The Baby. And going out in public was SUPER stressful for me because nursing in public felt like a SCENE with all of Zach’s flailing and wrestling and I rarely had enough pumped milk to give him a bottle instead (and also, missing a nursing session meant endangering my always sensitive milk supply, so VICIOUS CYCLE!) But some days, things really seemed to be going well and for a while there, I had moments where I pictured us making it through the fall, maybe even to him starting solid food. So it kind of surprised me how quickly things ended.
My only regret is that I didn’t know that the last time we nursed would be our last time. And yes, maybe I could have fought harder to bring back my milk supply with pumping every 2 hours for days on end (while my other two children destroy the house and possibly endanger their lives because LET’S BE REALISTIC HERE), and maybe I could have choked down gallons of that magical tea and taken a bunch of supplements that made me smell like maple syrup or whatever, and maybe I could have made myself (more) crazy trying to kick things into gear. But… no. I chose not to. I had a good cry session at the beach when I started realizing that our breastfeeding journey probably wouldn’t last much longer, and it made me sad (last baby, lots of feelings, etc) but then my practical side kicked in and I knew it wasn’t The End Of The World. And when I saw that dry diaper? That made it all clear to me.
Those first few days of giving him bottles, he drank at least 30 ounces of either breastmilk or formula in 24 hours. HOLY CRAP. And within two days, he was falling asleep with very little fighting which he hadn’t done in weeks. Fed babies are content babies are happy babies.
So. Between the mental and physical milestones he’s reached lately and no longer breastfeeding plus the fact that my period came back (HI! TMI! Also possibly ANOTHER reason my supply dropped!) and Dan got a vasectomy on Friday and we packed up the baby swing this weekend… it’s hitting me that this is REALLY IT for babies for us. I have three weeks left of my last maternity leave. Maggie will be starting first grade, and Audrey and Zach will be going to daycare three days a week while I get my business back up and running. And! AND! As of this morning’s doctor’s appointment and x-ray, my foot is considered healed and I don’t need to wear my boot anymore, so I’m hoping I can ease back into exercise soon and hopefully start losing these last 25 or so pounds. I feel like I’m slowly morphing back into The Old Me and I’m not gonna lie: it feels pretty good. It’s been a very long 14 months or so for me, physically. I’m ready to move forward.
And I’m excited about raising our three kids. OUR THREE KIDS. Our family.