Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Got Milk?

My baby has just hit the big one. From what I understand, this is when most mothers wean their children from breastfeeding. This is my third child that has had breast milk but I have never had to wean a child.

Eli, my first, was a horrible nurser. It was a terrible thing when every two hours he would become hungry. I would tense up, start to cry, Dave would look at me like I was nuts. For the first two weeks of his life, this was how each day went, every two hours. I went to a lactation specialist, she suggested I pump to get my nipples back in good repair and just bottle-feed him the milk. So I did. I didn't stop. I pumped for 9 months, having enough milk stored in freezers to probably feed him until he was 3. I did this because: a - I felt guilty. Why couldn't I do something so simple as nursing? Breast is best? b - I could. I was a fantastic pumper. I could pump anywhere, I pumped lots of good stuff. I didn't have any other children running around. Would I do it again? Probably not, but I am glad I did it for him then.

Caroline, my second was a natural nurser. Good from the get go. She nursed through 17 ear infections, my milk running dry during my medical trauma of 2004 and right up until we had tubes put in her ears August 30 2004 and the next day quit cold turkey. I felt totally rejected! Didn't she know that I pumped while I was in the hospital, even when I was only getting maybe 3 drops out at a time? I had given it my all and SHE decides when we are done? I let myself know that this would be the beginning of many rejections.

Joey thinks I'm the Host with the Most. He's been a great nurser since day one and continues to prefer nursing to chocolate milk, water, juice - pretty much any liquid that is in a container that isn't attached to my body. At his one year check up yesterday we got the news - Joey is not so big. Not that we didn't know that, it is just that he is not getting much bigger than his 9 month appointment. I should clarify - HE IS THRIVING, HITTING ALL HIS MILESTONES, HIS MUSCLE TONE is FINE, all is good except that he is a bit not as big as a large percentage of others his age.

My doctor asked if I was still breastfeeding. Yes. Does he take anything from a bottle or sippy yet? Not so much. Is he eating solids better (he has a history of not eating solids well)? Yes, much better. Let's calorie pack him - let him eat cake, eat ice cream, eat butter for all the doc cares. Then, let's not worry about it and we'll recheck him at 15 months. He reassured me that a lot of 9 - 12 months old babes that breastfeed don't get the calories that bottle fed babies do (even if the bottle is full of breastmilk).

I feel a bit at a lost. I had already decided that I would continue to nurse him for a few more months, because although it wasn't soft serve oozing from my body, it was packed full of goodness and vitamins. Frankly, if a friend told me this story, I would probably encourage her to quit nursing. I have some major conflicts running in my head about the whole thing. Now, I wonder if tough love is in order. Should I just cold turkey him and force him to a life without nursing? I'm not sure how to do this. Maybe this is a good time to visit Hawaii all by myself. Any weaning suggestions? Or should I stay with the original plan - nurse a few more months, fatten the kid up with outside sources? We'll see. He may decide tomorrow that he is finished with me.

My thoughts have gone in too many directions, which is not unusual. As mothers I think we have that feeling of what is best for our kids, you just know that your children need certain things from you. That intuition thing. And for me, it is to stay the course, for the time being. I love nursing. Luckily, our doc thinks this is a good plan of action also. I love that one on one closeness. I love knowing my body can provide nutrients for my babies. I would encourage anyone to do it. But I also think that if it doesn't work or if a mother doesn't want to, then don't worry about it. The options are just as good. I know you can have just as much closeness and gratification with a bottle. I guess in my roundabout way I am trying to say is that I can't believe it has been a year of nursing, averaging every 3 hours for 366 days. I'm grateful for this time spent with Joe, I'm grateful I am able to do it. I think I will be very sad when it is all over. Bless these boobs.


Meghan said...

my babes weaned themselves about 3 weeks ago and i was very sad about it. they literally sucked the life out of me til i just had no more to give. but i understand the emotional thoughts and feelings about it - i still wish i could do it because i wasn't prepared to be done and give up that one on one close time with them. my boobs were just exhausted, and i felt like i'd be a perv if i went any further with it.
keep it up for awhile longer... just don't be the creepy lady i read about in parents who gives the 8yr old breastmilk for their birthday....

Mike, Tia & Annabelle said...

I say keep going. I don't have as much nursing experience as you do (only 11 1/2 months). But if a kid needs to eat I would say don't take away his favorite food. What do you think of buying some heavy whipping cream and seeing if he'll eat that whipped up with some sugar? Not too cold, somewhat familiar? Whatever ends up happening good luck - and way to go on nursing a whole year!

Tim, Crista and Addy said...

I echo your thoughts....Adilyn just turned a year and although we haven't had the Dr. appt yet (we'll do that after we move to Delaware next week) I think she is tiny and LOVES to be breastfed. I thought I would continue to nurse through all the craziness of moving and stuff but I got back and forth too. Kinda glad someone else is having some of the same thoughts and is continuing after 12 months. Take care and good luck! :) Wish we could have gotten together, we leave on Tuesday.

Lisa said...

Have you seen the WHO percentile charts for breastfed babies?
The charts widely in use throughout the world were made many years ago and were based on formula fed infants.
My two children who breastfed beyond the age of 1 werev much more lean than children their age.

Wishing you all the very best whichever decision you make. You have given your children the very best start.

Roxey said...

Whitney! I'm so glad you came up to introduce yourself at the race! I felt this was definitely something I could comment on! I myself nursed my kids until about 18 months--yes, you read right, and yes, I really am a cow. I loved it, and wouldn't trade it for a minute, although I might deny how long I nursed depending on who's asking! Good luck, and I'd just keep going if you're comfortable!