instant weaning: saying goodbye to breastfeeding

May 19, 2013, Michaela Evanow, 15 Comments

This pains my heart to write this. I have always loved breast feeding and always will.
My breast feeding journey began with Florence 13 months ago, and it started off so well. I’ve always had ample milk, never struggled with latch issues or pain. I gladly fed her in public, was happy to nurse her to sleep. I love it all. And considering she was diagnosed with SMA 1 at 3.5 months, our breast feeding journey has been an extravagant gift. I cherished every. single. moment. Every feed, I gazed into her eyes, and she looked back at me with her eyes the color of a meadow at dusk, and we shared love. Deep, spiritual, meaningful love that only a mother and child can share.

And just like that, it ends. No more breastfeeding. It was 3 weeks ago today that I last breastfed her. I didn’t know it would be our last time. I can barely remember it, the experience muddled by the crackling in her chest, her fitful sleeping, the fear of going to the ER.
I ache.
I want to comfort her. I want to nurse away her pain.
I want to feed her one more time. I WANT TO GIVE HER MY MILK. This is what my heart and body are screaming.
But I know I can’t.
I can pump and did for a while but my supply dropped. And its not the same. She used to breastfeed 4-5 times a day. The milk is sitting now, waiting, and slowly leaving me.

And all of the solid food I’ve picked out so carefully, the high calorie, ultra smooth and organic mixes I’ve spent time researching. No longer needed. The frozen homemade food I just made, sitting in useless cubes in the freezer.

She has a Jejunum tube hanging out her tummy now, and in 6 weeks it will hopefully be a Gastrostomy tube as well. It will be a smaller button rather than an external tube. I keep fearing I will accidentally rip it out of her.
We know this tube will probably make life easier. Although I didn’t mind feeding her, taking the time, changing her positions every few seconds, feeding her food in the tub. I will miss it all. And I wish I could have made the choice to let breast feeding go, I wish it wasn’t an emergency wean. I want to help her understand that it wasn’t my choice to stop.

Knowing a JG tube will decrease the likelihood of aspiration pneumonia brings me a lot of peace. Although it hasn’t been proven that she aspirates food, the tube is just another step in “managing” SMA. I am happy to have it in one sense, yet also reject the “it is more convenient” smiles.

So now, when we do go home, we will have a tube fed toddler, who once ate real food, drank her mama’s milk. The doctors will suggest no food or drink by mouth, say the tube is forever. But I disagree. I have to, yet again, believe for more. I was not ready for a tube months ago. Never. I couldn’t. But grace has come into this hard place and kneaded out the knots of fear.
Trust.
Let go.
Be thankful for the 13 months of breastfeeding and bonding.
Let it go again.
Grieve the loss of it, but don’t be destroyed by it.

And I say to my heart, God is still good.

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Thank you to my friend Morag Hastings of Apple Blossom Families for generously offering to shoot a breast-feeding session for us. I will cherish these pictures. They make me cry now, because that season is over, but I’m thankful I have these pictures so I don’t forget what a beautiful gift it was to nurse my Florence Marigold.

15 Comments

  • Reply Melissa Naiad May 22, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    That’s a beautiful breast feeding photo of the two of you. What a special thing to have.

    • Reply Michaela. May 22, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      Yes it’s one of many! It helps having a friend and birth photographer capture it.

  • Reply Esther May 22, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    It aches to read 🙁 I am sorry for this loss, the loss of breastfeeding. My thoughts are with you.

  • Reply momentsinmommyland May 21, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Stumbled across your blog today. Hello fellow Christian mommy blogger! Planning to look through your other posts!

  • Reply Debbie Tuit May 20, 2013 at 6:05 PM

    Hello again Sweetie. Yet again I was unprepared for the emotion your writing always brings to my heart. I feel as though I am in the room with you all…experiencing the emotion of so many difficult decisions. The breastfeeding was one you did not have the opportunity to make, and I am sorry, as I can feel your mama’s heart cry of disappointment. The challenges of so many medical difficulties….and yet more decisions….well. you and Jay have made them ,and they seem right. Hard, but right. God bless you on this journey sweet Michaela, Jay and all your family. Love and prayers continue for Florence for a total miracle of healing.
    The photo of your nursing Florence is so precious!

  • Reply Gerg's May 19, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    Michaela, I know you’re strong and well, shit. Blah, blah, blah!!! I am bawling! I am so, so, SO sorry that they say you shouldn’t Breastfeed your daughter anymore. I’m angry. I’m jealous for you and her in this. I want to scream and fight and do the same all over again in detest against this advice. I know you don’t want pity…but something about this is unjust in the Spirit. I want you to have what you want – what Flo and you NEED!!!

    For your sakes I am saying, “No!!!” in the Spirit. I will keep holding onto to hope that she will be able to nurse again. Keep pumping!!

    • Reply Michaela. May 20, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      Yes it’s complicated. I think because I wanted to nurse her until she was 3, it makes it really hard! But this is one of many things we have “lost” or not experienced or struggled with along the way….so sadly, I’ve become accustomed to just letting things
      Go. But thank you for fighting for us!

  • Reply Nanny May 19, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Raising Arizona, or raising Florence has it’s highs and it’s lows. We mourn the loss of so many things as our children move forward from one stage to another – those stages are different for each child, but they come to pass, and they do pass and we learn to treasure yet another stage – and no matter where the journey takes us, we celebrate and we mourn – we are mothers – my heart is with you my dear.

    • Reply Michaela. May 20, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      Thanks for that. Who is Arizona, Nanny?

      • Reply Nanny May 20, 2013 at 12:15 PM

        Raising Arizona is a movie from a long time ago – it’s a light piece, but the depth of it is that it does take an entire village to raise a child – and the impact family has – you have to kind of watch it by squinting past a lot of it, and opening your eyes for the best of it 🙂

        • Reply Michaela. May 20, 2013 at 6:07 PM

          Haha I thought it was a movie!

          • Nanny May 20, 2013 at 6:48 PM

            what can I say? it just popped right into my mind 🙂 loving on you my almost grand D.

  • Reply The Laundry Lady May 19, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    When I weaned my daughter at 13 months it was because of excruciating pain that no doctor I saw could track down or remedy. While I mourned the loss later, initially I was relieved. When I had to give my son formula during a nursing strike I swore I would never take breastfeeding for granted again. Then the pain started, so much like what I had gone through before that I said enough. I mourned that too. Our struggles are not the same, and I would never minimize your struggle or your pain. But know that the way you feel is part of a mother’s heart and my heart reaches out to you and your little family. Loving you and praying for you from afar. You, your milk and your love have given her a wonderful start in life. Rest and know that you have done well. Blessing to you.

    • Reply Michaela. May 20, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      Thanks for reaching out yet again Bethany.

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