Sunday, February 10, 2013

Breastfeeding Journies

When I had Anne I figured I'd nurse her well beyond one year.  It didn't seem like it would be *that* hard to nurse....well she took us for a loop and it was *incredibly* hard.  It took us over 10 weeks before I was nursing without being in excruciating pain every single nursing and sobbing through them.  Then at 12 weeks I went back to work part time and she started getting bottles of my milk.  She did great until I had a hard time keeping up.  At 6 mos she started getting more and more formula in the bottle.  By the time she was 9 mos she preferred the bottle over me and it was all I could do to try and make it to one year.  I technically made it to the year but if I'm honest she was done nursing by the time she was 10 mos.

Jamie was a much better nurser.  He latched on right away and within 2 weeks we were nursing great-pain free which was such a relief and a joy.  With him I wanted to nurse, again, til at least 18 mos to 2 years old.  By the time he was 14 months he was down to just once a day and half the time he wasn't even interested in it.  It sort of naturally fell off then and our weaning was very gradual but also right for us.  I was thrilled to have made it to 14 months easily and joyfully but still had hoped for 18.

Then I had Libby.  She was my hope my entire pregnancy that she'd be the one to make it to 18 months.  Imagine my utter despair when we learned that she had Duodenal Atresia and not only couldn't nurse but couldn't even eat from her mouth until her blockage was repaired and healed!  Every day of the 7 weeks in the hospital my hope dropped a little, thinking that it had been too long now-too long without eating by mouth (would she even know how to *suck* at this point?) and certainly too long without nursing.  She got a bottle, and was able to eat by mouth, for the first time in her life right at 5 weeks old.  She was not a great bottle eater.  She was messy, she choked and she was so bad at it that she routinely made her heart rate drop enough that alarms would go off during her feedings.  So when I tried to nurse her for the first time at 6 weeks old I had zero expectations.  Actually I expected she wouldn't be able to do it.  Image my joyful surprise when she DID nurse!  Without any help.  Latched on like she had been made for it.  And she had.  One week later we left the hospital unsure if she'd be able to nurse once home. She had some difficulty keeping on weight and the doctors scared us so much we thought she might end up back in the hospital if I even attempted to breastfeed her exclusively.  John and I decided to take it one feeding at a time.  Needless to say she ate perfectly her first feeding home and we never again gave her a bottle.  She was exclusively breastfed til she was 8 months old and we introduced solid food.

Fast forward.  She is now 19.5 months old and STILL nursing!  Three times a day and she asks for it much more than that.  I have started to wonder when I should wean.  I'm getting antsy.  It'd be nice just to close this chapter and move on, officially from here.  I go back and forth multiple times a day on when I should start to wean her.  Well here's where we are-it just came to me this week that I am going to let her decide for the next 4 months if she wants to nurse or not.  I will continue to nurse her as normal and if she decides she's done she can let me know.  I will not consider weaning her til she turns 2.  At that point if we're still nursing I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  It's a good feeling though to have a plan and to know that I can stop stressing about when and how and what's right.  She can be the leader for now.  After all, I can never get back these nursing days once they're gone.  So I'll be okay to hold on to them for as long as she'll let me.


The Hardys said...

Wow! You're doing great.....and it is a journey! I will say that I envy you for even thinking of going to 24 months....that is not an option here, lol. Nursing twins is incredibly hard, and I've got 10-11 more weeks to go before I'm done (not that I'm counting down or anything ;) ). I love the boys, but I'm ready to have my body back, and to be honest I'm pumping more than they are nursing because they are so distracted during the day (toys and each other are so much fun!), it's really becoming more of a chore. Great job April & Libby!!!

P.S. We really have to get together soon!!! Save the date of April 27th if all you guys can make it to the boys' birthday party :D

Nicole said...

Thanks for sharing & your honesty. I wonder if more women would try breastfeeding if they heard real stories. All I could think about when I started nursing was that "if you're doing it right, it shouldn't hurt" but getting used to my let down TOTALLY hurt. And for me too, it took about 10 weeks before we really got to a good nursing place. Personally it helps to know that I only have xx amount of time before things would get better.

It's so wonderful that you have been able to nurse all 3 so far and that you've been able to figure out a time when you are mutually done. Congrats!