Thursday, October 24, 2013

Breast Feeding Still

For the long, long haul. 

(You can read my other two posts about breast-feeding here and here, and my starting-with-the-bottle/pump experience here). 



Long Distance

I've heard that marathon runners go through stages of grief and denial as they get deeper and deeper into the 26+ mile distance.  Something about the '20 mile wall': your body just quits and you have to force every single step until the end, all the while asking yourself 'why the heck am I still running?'  I've never run a marathon and never plan to, but it makes sense. 

I've also never had a marathon-sized goal for how long I wanted to nurse my children.  I didn't want to set myself up for disappointment by setting a long-term expectation, and I never wanted to allow myself the mentality that this was something I could control, as so many things can affect breast feeding duration.  

So here we are, nursing still. Sometimes I can't believe I've made it this long.

Purposeful weaning is not a place I've felt I needed to go yet, but fifteen months in and still at it, I feel guilty admitting that there have been a few instances recently that I resented that I'm still breastfeeding.  Specifically the slightly-resentful moments come on the [very few] nights that my daughter wakes up, inconsolable, and comes into bed with us circa 3am... a.k.a. a delirious rooting squirm-creature keeps me up for hours kicking and clawing, while Dan sleeps.  It was b-a-d last time we were at the cabin up north and it was too cold for her to be by herself in the pack'n'play.  That was my 20 mile wall.  So I confess. I've had bitter moments where I've thought about throwing in the towel. 

Not sure the statistic but I think most kiddos have weaned by now, fifteen months, but Penny is showing no sign that she's ready to stop... so I'm going with it and putting her needs first. That's what feels right. 

Wanted to reflect here on some reasons I'm so very glad I'm still nursing. Self pep talk. 

Nursing a child this age is most awesome for:

-Soothing. The times when she hurts herself (which happen more often than I'd like to admit), nursing still proves to be numbero uno for making it all better, or at least calming the sad sad wailing. 

-Nutrition. The times when we make mediocre food choices for our family, I always feel better knowing she's still getting oh so much nutrition from mother's milk. We try to make a Team Griffin effort to put all the good stuff in Penny's belly, but the kid loves crackers and she loves bread and she loves ice cream. And, mother of the year alert: sometimes when I help myself to a small handful of chocolate chips from the freezer, I give her one too.  So, my world is a better place when I remember that breast milk is still a part of my toddler's diet.  No, nursing's not an enabler of junk food eating. Stoppit.  

-My body. Although I can't say that breast-feeding has been a post-partum unicorn fairy that made me magically shed all my baby weight, pretty sure it's not hurting me in the metabolism category. Those chocolate chips probably are. 'Nother story entirely. I digress.

-Immunity. The times when she's sick or showing signs that she might get sick, I'm confident that breast feeding in overdrive helps her immune system fight whatever's coming. She'll still get sick, I know, but it's gotta be helping some.  

-Savoring the Baby Phase. I like breast-feeding and I know that when she stops, I won't ever get to nurse this child again. I'm not in a hurry to end it.  My mother-in-law gave Dan and I the advice: never wish yourselves into the next stage of parenthood, always enjoy and be present in the stage that you are in with your children, whatever it may be, because it will go away and you'll never get it back. I'm sticking with that principle for my nursing journey. 

-Confidence. We've got it down by now. No more clogged ducts or leaky engorgement or timers. I've earned my stripes and I wear them with pride. Auto pilot feels so, so good. 

-Bonding. It's our special mommy/toddler time that nobody else gets to have. The treasure in these moments is the same as it was when she was a newborn.  I feel so close to her.  I love it. 

Ho Hum, On We Go

So in the status update category, I would say I'm no longer actively "dedicated" to meticulously maintaining supply and schedule and frozen inventory like I have been in the past, but I'm still very very committed to keeping at it, in a ho hum kind of way.  

I think quitting my job has contributed to the ho hum because I don't have to manage distribution of the liquid assets to three different freezers anymore. Hallelujah. 

Nursing in public is nearly impossible these days unless she is completely exhaustified or maybe if we go to a small space with nothing to look at (thumbs up for dressing rooms).  She has pretty much no interest in taking bottles of pumped breast milk anymore from other people (ain't nobody got time for that)... sooooo it's pretty much nursing, from the tap, at home only.  

This might mean seven times a day, it might mean three times a day.  I don't keep track anymore and I don't pump anymore.  In fact, this weekend I think I'm going to sterilize all my pump parts, bag 'em and store 'em for the next kid. Liberation! It'll be like the last day of school after you finish your math final when you throw away all your notes. [well, I always kept all my math notes, but you get what I'm saying]. Still gotta figure out what to do with what's left of my frozen stash... maybe I'll start putting it in her sippy when I'm away from her so it doesn't go to waste.

'When will you wean?' is the big question I get.  I'm still sayin' she'll let me know when she's done.  No pressure, no push.  So that's where we're at.  

My advice to other newer moms: stick with it as long as is reasonable for your family.  Don't put undue pressure on yourself, but don't quit for frivolous reasons -- it's so worth it to go long term if you can.

I hope this offers encouragement to any of you who do have marathon-sized goals for your breastfeeding journey.  It can be done!  Nurse on mommas!



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4 comments:

  1. Good work, Momma! I've enjoyed my journey with Annabel. I just started supplementing a little formula. I resisted for a long time. It;s nice to have a little freedom while maintaining that special mommy/baby time.

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  2. That is a good work mama. I wish my supply had kept up with B's needs and that she still wanted to. Sadly she weaned herself right after her birthday. You should be so proud of yourself! high five from NC :)

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  3. Good for you! Full term (allowing the child to self wean) breastfeeding is becoming more normal, plus the WHO recommends it till 2 years old. Well done mama.

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    1. Thanks Anya! I actually didn't know that the WHO (World Health Organization) recommended it until that age, but it makes sense. Women in other countries do seem to breastfeed much longer than we Americans!

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