With summer coming to an end, we decided to finish it off at my family’s cabin in North Carolina. We typically go every year with Thomas and Joel’s family. Last year we didn’t get to visit with Covid, but this year we did…and we had a special visitor along for the ride!
To say I was nervous about Annabelle’s first big trip would be the understatement of the century. I was most nervous about the 14 hour drive we would have to the house and back of course. I shouldn’t have stressed that though, because she rocked it! What I wasn’t prepared for was her complete refusal to breastfeed.
Leading up to the trip I had noticed that breastfeeding Annabelle wasn’t coming as easy as it once had. Just to be clear, breastfeeding in general is NOT easy. Annabelle was becoming more and more aware of her surroundings everyday and therefore becoming more and more distracted. Her nursing times were shorter, but I could also tell my supply wasn’t what it once was. Leading up to our trip, I occasionally found myself supplementing a nursing session with milk I had previously pumped.
On our way up, I could tell Annabelle was distracted while nursing, but who could blame her, everything was SO new. I figured in a day or two once she got into a groove, things would get back to “normal”. Heads up, I only brought about 15 oz of frozen milk with me in case things went south on our drive up! While I was hoping she’d get into a groove, she didn’t. Each session became more difficult, to the point that she was refusing my breast. This had never happened before. While I tried my best not to panic, my heart broke. Was she ready to wean? Was I not making enough for her? Was she missing our element and routines as much as I was? Not sure, but off to Walmart I went to buy formula and a manual hand pump because mama was starting to fill up.
My plan- pump as much as possible so that I could give her bottles of breast milk AND formula. Before heading to North Carolina we had tried a formula, solo, at home and Annabelle absolutely hated it. I’m talking she spit it out every single time I tried offering. This time around I picked a different formula and mixed it with some breast milk.
This was better, but Annabelle wasn’t thrilled. The only way she would down that bottle was when she was completely starved and didn’t really have a choice. This totally threw off our feeding schedules and had me all worried about her night sleep. Luckily, she would sleep through the night, but was waking up around 5:30 daily. This wasn’t good for my brain capacity in the slightest.
You guys know how much I love my routine and things to be planned. I decided not to plan much for this trip and let Joel take the lead. That will never happen again, hah! So between the lack of routine, lack of planning, and lack of nursing, mama struggled and struggled hard.
Don’t let the faces above fool you. This was our last full day in North Carolina and I was absolutely miserable. I was physically and mentally drained. To the point that while we were at lunch, I became extremely light headed and needed to head back to the cabin, rest and let out a good cry.
After some research and chatting with a few mama friends, I realized weaning was taking its physical and emotional toll on me. I didn’t have the luxury of gradually weaning last week and my body felt it.
I wanted to bring light to this because when I started breastfeeding I immersed myself in reading almost everything I could and also worked with a lactation consultant. I wanted to be as prepared as possible, but what no one prepares you for is weaning.
Weaning looks different for everyone, there’s no one way to do it and sometimes you’re in situations like I was where you don’t have a choice. But the more I looked for information, especially on the plethora of breastfeeding social media accounts, the more disappointed I became when I just wasn’t finding information.
Quite frankly, the emotional toll it took on me in just a few short days was scary. Talking about it helped, it helped being reassured that this was normal, but still challenging.
I’m lucky that once I got home, Annabelle was less distracted and more into nursing. But I also did have to come to terms with the fact that my supply wasn’t what it used to be and if I wanted Sprinkle Baby to sleep through the night, she was going to need a bottle.
So, I’ve started the weaning process. We’re tapping into the frozen milk and my emotions are running high. I wanted to breastfeed until she was one and then start tapping into my frozen milk, but we’re on a different ride now! Side note, I can’t tell you how many ounces of milk I’ve wasted thinking she wants more and then she refuses. Why do I bring it up, because wasting any drop of pumped milk stabs me right in the heart. Countless hours and late nights pumping to build up a freezer stash while baby girl was fast asleep. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, whoever said “don’t cry over spilt milk” has clearly never pumped before.
While I’m sad this part of the ride is coming to an end, I’m grateful that we’re back home and this isn’t something we need to stop cold turkey. I was lucky in that I wasn’t getting engorged, but I think at this point I would have preferred that over the mental load this all brought on. Being home and nursing again, within two days I noticed such a shift in my mood and overall how I felt physically.
Just gotta keep thinking, I’ve been lucky to have all this time with you my Sprinkle Baby!