Friday, June 10, 2011

Reaching New Heights - Hindsight is 20/20

If you recall from my first breastfeeding story, my oldest, Aiden, was weened by 8 months. In hindsight, there were many contributing factors.

  1. His binky...oh how that baby loved his binky 
  2. At 6 months old, around the time we started to struggle and lose our way, we grew tired of Aiden waking 6 or 7 times a night. He wasn't waking to nurse, he was simply waking up...and being awake. We let him CIO one night, it took 20 minutes of fussing and he slept through the night for the first time that night. But this ended his night nursing. At the time I didn't notice the correlation, but I do now.
  3. Aiden is and has always been a spirited child, he's active, perceptive, nosy, observant, bossy...that's Aiden. He was like this as a baby...it made nursing him in public impossible. Not "nearly impossible," it was simply impossible. He was on and off, on and off, mostly off...and he didn't feel the need to make up for missed daytime nursings at night as many babies who do this do. He just didn't nurse. I couldn't handle the crappy latch, nipple pulling insanity that goes along with nursing a distracted baby. I was too self conscious.
  4. It was the summer months and I was uncomfortable with all the layers I insisted on wearing for the sake of modesty. I had zero self esteem and it was hard for me to nurse if anyone could see any part of my bare skin. 
  5. Post-partum depression. I did not know it then, but having been diagnosed this time, and looking back, I definitely had some mild PPD going on and it was making it difficult for me to nurse him. There was a whole slew of emotional blocks.
  6. Early solids. Like I said, Aiden was fine with not nursing...he liked his pacifier so he wasn't a comfort nurser, and we started solids with him a little after 4 months, and he liked food, so that's what he ate. 
  7. Nursing was not "normal" to me, despite being in the birth community, I had not been around nursing mothers, I had no friends who nursed, no one in my family nursed...so while I was very passionate about breastfeeding, I also couldn't identify with it. So when I started having trouble with Aiden, it was just easier for me to give him a bottle...first of breastmilk...then of formula. 
  8. I didn't like nursing...for a lot of the reasons above. I was feeling touched out, I was an emotional wreck, i felt like he was touching me in a way I did not want to be touched (a common reaction in women survivors of abuse). 
By the time he was 8 months, my therapist and I had given me permission to wean him. I was heartbroken, I knew better, but I also knew that our breastfeeding relationship was seriously strained, that the stress of getting him to nurse, making sure he was nursing enough, always trying to find a quiet, dark place so he wasn't distracted, was stressing me badly and my supply was suffering. So that was that. I slowly reduced the number of feedings over the course of a week or two. Aiden never asked to nurse, didn't miss it at all. He took to his bottle just fine, enjoyed looking all around while he ate. So it was fine...but I was soooo ashamed. In a birth and breastfeeding crazy group, I always wanted to hide the fact that Aiden took formula...it was a horribly akward situation.

So Chase is 7.5 months old now, and only started solids right around 6 months...only recently are we getting more regular about it. He still nurses 2 or 3 times a night, and while he is a distracted nurser during the day (his brother is the most interesting thing on the planet) he makes up for not being a heavy daytime nurser by nursing at night. I'm about to cross into uncharted territory with Chase. I'm super cautious about foods. We are following the Baby Led Weaning approach to introducing solids, and he likes it...so do I. It lets him be in charge of his own food consumption. I'm proud that we have had no troubles so far, but I"m worried. I'm worried about teeth, entering the biting zone...about if he'll EVER sleep through the night, about what it's like to nurse an 8 month old? a 10 month old? a 1 year old? Or, GASP...a 2 year old?! This is all unknown territory to me, exciting, but worrisome. I really enjoy nursing this time around, I enjoy spending that time with Chase...he enjoys it too...he is a BOOBY baby. He stopped using a pacifier about 3 months ago, he'd rather suck a boob or his fingers...it's wonderfully freeing! 

My plan is to go to 18 months if he doesn't decide to be done sooner, and I've been with such a wonderful group of breastfeeding women for long enough now that I will probably even go as far as 2 years. I never would have even thought to do something like that. My hard limit with Aiden was 15 months...MAX! What a difference it makes to be surrounded by a community of women who just parent from their hearts, nurse their babies for however long it feels right for them and their baby, and holds eachother up when the going gets tough with wisdom, hugs, jokes, and tips. How lucky am I? 

My cool booby baby, Chase Racer


I hope you are lucky enough too, to have women friends in your circle who support the way YOU want to raise your kids...if it's breast or bottle feeding, if it's cloth diapering, if it's my way or your way...I hope YOUR community supports you...because being surrounded by wonderful mothers is one thing...being surrounded by wonderful mothers who think like YOU do is a totally different story!


1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad I found the wonderful support network I have this time around in The Good Letdown and The Leaky Boob, and the various women I've friended. If I hadn't found them prior to having my preemie, I probably wouldn't still be breastfeeding. I didn't have this support with my first, and he nursed with formula supplementation for six months before I was done; with my second son, he mostly formula fed with nursing as a supplement IF I felt like I could do it. I was determined to have a successful go of breast feeding with my last child, born in February. I've had lots of questions and concerns, and because of the support I didn't let those concerns stop me. I have confidence we'll go at least 1.5 years, hopefully longer!

    ReplyDelete