Monday, April 26, 2010

How Much Longer

Before Milkthaw Debacle 2010 Bud asked how much longer I was planning to nurse Ellie. I really don't know. I hadn't given it much thought until he asked. This is the last baby, when she weans, this is the end of nursing forever, and I am not really sure how I feel about it.

In 2001 my best friend had her son, I remember talking on the phone while she cried about breastfeeding. It wasn't working out and she was devastated. I really couldn't understand the big deal, I mean, there was formula, not like he was going to starve. I bet $20 I could call her on the phone and get her crying about now, 9 years later. I was sympathetic, but had no idea how to comfort her.

Two years later, I was about to give birth and Bud and I were dead broke. We had to decide each month which bills were going to get paid late. Bud was finishing his student teaching, he was hired for the next school year, which didn't start for another 4 months. I knew we needed to conserve every penny, so I figured I would try breastfeeding, I had never pictured myself nursing, and only planned to do it for 6-8 weeks, then the free formula we got should get us to Bud's first real paycheck.

Bud and I took the classes, and rolled our eyes at the "breast-nazis". I heard the discussions of increasing supply with fenugreek, and oatmeal. Eye Roll. When Owen was born I was exhausted. I had only had about 4 hours sleep the night before and it was now 2am the next day. The nurse was trying to get him latched on, and he wasn't cooperating. I was laying in bed rubbing ice on my ni**les to get him to latch. Finally, the nurse ordered me to sleep and Bud to give Owen a bottle. She promised me it wouldn't ruin the whole nursing thing and she would personally make it work, once I had some sleep. The next day Owen and I worked through the whole latching, I had the usual misgiving about is he getting anything. We went home and I was still not sure my boobs were doing anything. Until they suddenly got all hot and tingly, and tripled in size in about 20 minutes. Holy Heck. Anyway, I was in pain, the usual chafing and whatnot. We hadn't worried about a breast pump because the plan was 6 weeks or so. Luckily a friend was done with hers and lent it to me. (I know, single user, whatever, we didn't have money for a movie rental)

When Owen was 4 weeks old, I suddenly developed a high fever, chills, stabbing breast pain. So off to the urgent care I trudged. I knew it was mastitis, and I prayed the whole way the doctor would tell me to quit nursing. I figured I wouldn't have to feel guilty that way. Of course the doctor told me there was no way I could quit now! That would make it worse. Eventually my sensitive parts toughened up. I found I didn't hate the nursing, it was ok. Then we went back east to visit family, our flight at one airport was delayed for 5 hours, and I didn't have to panic about what he was going to eat. I just found a quiet corner of the airport and fed him whenever I needed. No matter what I had forgotten in the diaper bag, his food was always there, with me.

So, I extended the deadline to 3 or 4 months, I didn't think pumping at work would be pleasant. But it was ok, so the deadline was bumped to 6 months. Finally, at 6 months I stopped making deadlines. When Owen was 10 months I got the flu and my supply dropped a lot. So I made a bottle of formula, and he gagged. He wouldn't drink it, no matter what we tried. So, I bought fenugreek, and made oatmeal cookies. I gave away the $400 or so of free formula I had acquired and hunkered down for the next two months. A few weeks after his first birthday, he weaned on his own, and I cried.

When I had Maddie, I figured I would see how it went, but I would use formula if we needed it, and not stress myself. Well, Maddie was not a fan of the bottle. Lupe use to spoon feed her the milk. (yes she is a saint) So we never bothered trying the formula. The morning of her first birthday Maddie refused to nurse any more. I cried.

With Ellie, I knew a year would go fast, I had done the nursing and pumping at work twice before and figured I could handle it again. Once we found out she had a dairy allergy, it confirmed what I had already planned. Now as we near the one year mark, I wonder, will she wean herself like the other two? She is definitely more distracted, and less willing to spend time nursing. I feel pretty sure I will cry again.

If someone had told me that I would end up nursing 3 children for a year each, I would have laughed at you. Or possibly cried, this was not the mother I expected to be. Not that it is any better or worse than the mother I thought I would be.... just different. I use to think people who nursed for a year or longer were "caraazzeeeee", I wonder what other things will be different than I expect?

PS. I have no judgements about how others feed their children. Unless you give them Popsicles at 2 months, I am pretty sure you are doing a great job. And hey, I could be totally wrong on the Popsicles.


melissa said...

Isn't it interesting the way our children change us? Not ever seeing yourself nursing 3 children for a year each...and here you are now! It is a totally beautiful thing:)

Joanne said...

I am going to be weaning V soon, as she is 1! today, and I am feeling sadder about it than I thought I would. She is my teensiest baby and seems to need me the most, though. I have never loved nursing but I did it and now I am sort of surprised at how I'm being about it. Damn bodies. Damn hearts. :)