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four months

Zach turned four months old on Sunday.

four months

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.

We are days away from a fully rolling baby.

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.

All the proof I need that he wasn't getting enough milk from me. First time he's just fallen asleep like this is WEEKS. He's PEACEFUL.

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.

Somehow ended up with all 3 kids alone at a restaurant. I've lost my mind. Send help. #sucker

Helper

Flower-pickin'

"Daddy you be the pwince!"

2 weeks / 2 months / 4 months

16 Comments

  1. HereWeGoAJen
    @herewegoajen

    I hate the breastfeeding guilt. I have had a remarkably successful breastfeeding history (luck! pure luck!) and even I feel guilty and I don’t even know what about. I get why the whole breast is best thing was started, but I think it has gone WAY TOO FAR and is bordering on ridiculous. Because honestly, whatever works! Babies like food! Food is good!

    I really love his little alligator ties with the alligator monthly pictures. Perfection.

    Aug 6 3:11 pm


    • Jen
      @jayesel

      We really do have the insane ability to make ourselves feel guilty over EVERYTHING, don’t we?? Silly.

      Aug 7 2:14 pm


  2. Tracy
    @overmom

    What a month for all of you!

    Aug 6 3:18 pm


  3. mona
    @kirida

    I had the same feelings when my nursing days were over. I don’t even remember the exact day, it was just a decision that my difficult baby made first and my worn out boobs also decided. Could I have fought more? Maybe, but it was exhausting and expensive! All the teas and tinctures and weird tasting things with nothing really helping. You’re right, fed babies are happy babies and so are their mamas and if mama is happy, then everyone will be happy.

    And seriously, how cute are your three?

    Aug 6 3:19 pm


  4. april
    @aprilbapryll

    Oh, oh. Oh. I am so sensitive to the struggle with breastfeeding. When I had my boys (which really wasn’t that long ago, they are 3 and 5), turning to formula was something you did quietly and pretended you weren’t struggling with. I fought through three terrible months of bfing with Spencer and only a week with Henry before I had a serious meltdown. While I will always agree with bfing as being the “best option” for people who CAN, I’m so glad that the tide has turned just a little bit to accept the alternative as something that is just best for some families. I know it was best for mine, and my boys turned out great.

    Your family is beautiful.

    Aug 6 3:21 pm


  5. Jen, youve done good, so please don’t fret over switching him to the bottle. As a mom to a tween and teen, I know there are PLENTY of things to feel guilty about long past the breastfeeding-bottle nonsense. Mothers of babies and young ones, take heart in that! :)

    Love the photos and enjoyed your vacation story, too.

    Aug 6 4:11 pm


    • Jen
      @jayesel

      I’m already learning this with a 6 year old… so many BIGGER, more impactful things to worry and stress over for sure!! :)

      Aug 7 2:15 pm


  6. Erica
    @Polkadot_hippo

    Hooray for moving forward.

    Aug 6 4:46 pm


  7. Jesabes
    @jesabesblog

    I tried everything to boost my milk supply when it disappeared (nonstop pumping and supplements) and it didn’t work. At all. You made a good call.

    Aug 6 9:45 pm


    • Jen
      @jayesel

      I feel like I did. Almost within hours, I felt my stress level go DOWN and that’s when I realized just how hard it had been for so many weeks! I’m happy I can enjoy (most of!) these last weeks before I go back to work instead of fighting and crying and being frustrated.

      Aug 7 2:16 pm


  8. K
    @twoadults

    Changes are hard. Not a revolutionary statement, really, but that doesn’t stop them from feeling new and strange.

    I remember when I made the decision to stop pumping. Oh the initial guilt. Here was the one tangible thing I could do for Iris and making the decision to stop felt not good. But the relief I felt at having one less thing on my shoulders to-do was monumental. It felt good and that is how I knew I made the right decision for all of us.

    Aug 7 12:45 pm


    • Jen
      @jayesel

      oh Lordy, with everything ELSE you had going on, I can’t blame you for wanting one less thing. !! But I also can imagine how at least you felt like you were doing SOMETHING. Sigh. It’s all so BIG sometimes in the moment, isn’t it? Then later we realize meh. Not that big of a deal, in the grand scheme of things ;) xoxo

      Aug 7 2:27 pm


  9. Melissa
    @sempremelissa

    He’s lucky to have such a great mama and family to grow up with–that’s what really matters. :) Hugs!

    Aug 7 3:49 pm


  10. This was just the post I needed to read tonight. My baby is maybe two (?) weeks older than Zach and we’re coming to an end of nursing as well. Between busy job, not enough time to pump and a hungry hungry girl… I’m in the last few nursing sessions. I can tell. I went from pumping 12oz during a 12hr shift to 3 in a 12hr shift. I suspect I have one or two more night time snuggle nursing sessions ahead of me. It’s so sad :-/ and mixed. I had a good cry the other night about it and Hubbin was like “um it’s food? We live in the 21st century, we can buy formula at the store?”

    I also can totally relate to the flailing crying baby under the nursing cover. Like: “oh. Hai. Nothing to see here. I swear I’m not abusing her, just trying to force feed her bewbs. Oh the humanity”

    Aug 7 10:21 pm


    • Jen
      @jayesel

      oh I’m glad you read this at the right time, then :) It’s hard I think for the husbands to really understand the emotional part of it. Sometimes it’s hard for ME, because my brain knows THIS IS FINE, HE’S BEING FED! but there is still frustration and guilt. Oh how I longed to be one of those mothers who could just easily breastfeed her baby out and about! But the FLAILING, good gracious. LOL I hope the transition goes well for you and your baby!!!

      Aug 8 9:06 am


  11. Dave (Scrumpy Daddy)
    @scrumpydaddy

    Jen, first of all, great pictures, as always! I loved seeing some of your vacation, and summer, and as always, your great kids!

    Second, great writeup of how you came to the end of breastfeeding Zach. I’m sorry it came to that, I know it has tremendous emotional impact, but you summarized it very well, and it seems like you handled it well/appropriately for Zach. (Emotions happened, sure, but you *did* hit a point of objectivity and it seems like the dry diaper caused a big mental shift that allowed it to Be OK.) Anywho; I know I’m a guy, so I’ll just stop there.

    Third, great writing, and kudos to you in life. I could feel tension leaving my own body as I read through to the end and especially as I got to the part, “I feel like I’m slowly morphing back into The Old Me and I’m not gonna lie: it feels pretty good.” You definitely portrayed the realization of the stress and tension you had been feeling but not realizing, and then the corresponding release of some of that as you started to move through it and away from it. I’m so glad you can start to feel more like YOU again and feel like you can actually PARENT these kids now, and not just be physically & mentally beholden to them, as though they are your jailors. :-)

    Have a GREAT August!

    Aug 9 7:46 am