Thursday, December 22, 2011

Uncharted Territory - Again

I don't know what I'm doing. I'm admitting it here on the world wide web.

When Christa brought Ella home she told me "I don't know what I'm doing, I've never nursed a newborn before!" Now, here I am, I'm approaching Chase's 1st birthday, still breastfeeding A LOT, and I realize I don't know what I'm doing. I only nursed Aiden for 8 months. I'm more than 50% farther along now...and I know things are a little different. I'm having a hard time knowing what "the rules" are for nursing a baby this age.

Rules? What? Since when does breastfeeding have RULES? That's ridiculous...but that's how I feel! I was so cautious about introducing solids, avoiding pacifiers, nursing on cue, and following his lead, working through a nursing strike, making sure I always offered the breast before foods...I was super nervous about getting it "wrong" because I did get it wrong with Aiden, I didn't want to do it again. I wanted to be sure we would make it past any bumps in the road. I was really having an internal struggle, and being just a bit neurotic.

Probably about a month ago I gave a detailed play by play to my girlfriends about how I was handling nursing and food and additional fluids. Told them I wasn't sure if I was doing the right stuff in the right order or what. They were very kind and reassuring. Thank goodness. Now, however, my brain is all rattled again...

...fast forward 2 months...I started this blog a few weeks before Chase turned 1 and I was all frazzled...but I wanted to share this unfinished post for a reason.

First of all, Breastfeeding doesn't have rules. I have long proclaimed the benefits of following your instincts and your child's cues when it comes to breastfeeding, doing what works well for you and whatever seems right. For some reason I was struggling with embracing this tactic in nursing my "Baby-toddler." Then one night I had a long conversation with Mama Christa during which I worked out my insecurities. At this age especially there are no rules...and I confirmed with her that I was overthinking the whole thing. This was like a switch going off. At this point I don't keep mental notes about how many times he has nursed, I just have a general perception about whether he has nursed "a lot" or "not much at all" and largely it doesn't concern me one way or another. This is a freeing place. Not paying attention is freeing. This is how nursing should be. Now I offer milkies and foods whenever he seems to want them and it's working. He's happy, I'm happy, and it's all good.

Second of all, we don't know it all here. We are all having new experiences in some arena or another...teeth, older nurslings, nursing on demand, day-time sippers...every child brings new experiences in all arenas and nursing is not any different. Over the last few months I have really embraced nursing not only as an important nutritional component in Chase's diet, but also as a critical parenting tool. Recognizing that nursing is a fluid, shifting, multi-purpose thing helps to relieve a lot of the "am I doing this right" anxiety that I think we have on our shoulders these days.

Third, if your baby is happy and healthy, there is no reason to worry about food, milies, diapers, weights...just go with it...your baby will let you know what he needs and you will know when he needs something more...even without a chart, mental log, etc. Why? Because you are the mommy, and if you shut off all the checklists, all the "what are the rules" and just let your intuition speak to you...You'll know what's up! That's how it is being a mommy!

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