I posted this blog a couple weeks ago telling about how I totaled the amount of time I had spent pumping in the month of September, and it was outrageous. I had posted at the end of it that it was worth it, but the more Justin and I thought about it and talked about it, we realized that it wasn't. Women who are able to nurse their babies don't spend near that amount of time in getting their babies' food. And even the majority of women who exclusively pump don't spend that much time. I am a low-volume producer, which means that I'm not able to pump enough for Elias' full demand, so we are supplementing with formula. (In any given day, about 80% of Elias' intake is breastmilk.) I have been pumping excessively in the hopes that my supply would increase and we'd eventually be able to get him off the formula supplements.
I didn't realize, though, how hard it was on me to do that and how much freedom I could have to enjoy my son and enjoy life more if I let go of that. So I have decided to cut back on the pumping. My supply will probably decrease, but at this point we feel like a happy and healthy mommy is more important for Elias than ever being able to get 100% breastmilk. This is a relief in a way, and I'm already enjoying having more sleep and more time to get things done during the day. But it's also a very difficult decision, and emotionally feels just as bad as it did when I had to give up nursing in the first place. It feels like I'm admitting defeat, acknowledging my failure at being able to provide what's best for my son. It also makes me feel guilty that I'm choosing to give Elias less breastmilk and more formula, since I believe that breastmilk is actually better for him. I feel selfish that my time and convenience is more important than his optimal health. Now, I don't need any lectures. I know that formula is a perfectly good option and that many babies grow up to be happy and healthy without ever having had a drop of breastmilk. I myself am a formula baby, and look how awesome I turned out! ;) I'm not saying my feelings are entirely rational - I'm just getting them out there. This is how I feel and I'd appreciate your prayers as I persevere in slowly dropping pumps and we adjust to the new way things will be around here.
When I made that previous post, I was pumping 6 times a day for about 40 minutes each time. I then dropped to 5x a day for 45 minutes for a week, then to 4x for 45-50 minutes for another week. Tomorrow I will be dropping to 3 pumps a day. I am thrilled and relieved to have not lost any supply yet, but I feel like there's no way I can decrease my pumping so much and not lose some milk in the process. So please pray for me as I see the ounces decreasing and the guilt and sorrow increasing. Depending on how well the 3-a-day schedule goes and how much I'm still producing, I may stay there for a while. I still want to be able to give him a good amount of milk, especially for the immune properties as flu season is upon us. I had intended to pump for Elias for a full year so he could be weaned straight to cow's milk, and depending on how it goes, I may still be able to pump twice a day or so and give him a little bit for that full year. I'm not calling it quits entirely. But my health and sanity require me to let go of all that I had been hoping for with regards to providing breastmilk for my son, and just trust God to keep my supply where He wants it to be for however long He wants it to remain.