Extended Breastfeeding and Where I have Been

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Sorry that I have been away for such a long time now. I am in college studying American Sign Language. I have been devoting all of my time to my studies and my babies. However, I think I am able to find time to maintain my blog as well, now that I have gotten adjusted to my school schedule. After a year long hiatus, I had a hard time getting back in to the swing of school, my homework, my kids homework, my 3 year old’s lack of schedule, and my nursling’s demands for attention.  Okay, now that the apologies and explanations are out of the way we can get down to the nitty-gritty.

Extended breastfeeding. When does extended breastfeeding start and regular breastfeeding stop exactly? I thought extended applied to nursing past the WHO’s recommendation of nursing for a minimum of 2 years. Then you are extending the amount of time you breastfeed past something. Still breastfeeding at 14 months seems to be extended for a lot of people, though.

Has my baby changed in some way that makes her too mature to receive the benefits of this perfect nutrition that only I can provide her,which she needed so badly in those early months? I don’t think so. But, many around me do.

Since the beginning of our nursing relationship I have heard many comments about breastfeeding. Most of those comments were ridiculous. For instance, did you know that ky baby will be too clingy, never sleep through the night, suffer vitamin deficiencies, become spoiled, and be less healthy than her formula counterparts? Oh, you didn’t know that? Neither did I! But, I have heard all of those things over the past 14 months. By the way, none of the above statements are true!

She is smart, independent, joyful, extremely healthy, and the cutest baby in the entire universe! She does not “sleep through the night”, but she does not wake either. We bedshare, and she wakes long enough to find her milk (me) and she is quickly back in dreamland.

So, yes we are STILL nursing. No, I am not planning on weaning her. Yes, she may want to breastfeed until she is five, but I doubt it.  Finally, it is working for us, and we are going to keep going until it isn’t!

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Teething Sucks

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Oh help me for I do not know how much more I can handle!

Okay, that is a bit dramatic.  Don’t worry I assure you I am not going to hurt myself or my baby.  I am just having a hard time dealing with the screaming monster that has taken over my child’s body for the past few weeks.  My sweet Lady Bug has never been an “easy baby”.  On the contrary, she has been more of a high needs baby since day one.  However, we have been having a much easier time as she has gained some mobility. With crawling came a whole new baby. 

Rather than spending her days screaming, she would spend time moving around on the floor looking for new and exciting things to play with.  Her favorite things are, as to be expected, not hers.  She likes string, things the dogs have chewed up, and pretty much any choking hazards you can think of.  Ah, the joys of chasing a mobile baby.  At least she wasnt crying all of the time.

Unfortunately, just as she was finding a more content way of being our whole world changed as her top front teeth started to emerge.  Now, she cries most of the day.  When she is not crying she is making strange sucky faces, and even stranger sucky sounds.  She is miserable.  I have tried teething toys, frozen rags, self feeders packed with cold banannas, her Sophie the Giraffe, and even the dreaded Tylenol all to no avail.  Many of the items are so hard to clean that I really dont even want to use them because the few minutes of peace we get are just not worth it.

Don’t get me wrong, I know this is much worse for her than it is for me.  She is in pain.  She is not trying to cause me stress during the day.  However, no matter how many times I tell myself that I still cant stop wishing she would just be happy!  I know that is wrong.  I feel guilty for even thinking it.  I am just so tired.

Her sleeping schedule, if you want to call it that, used to be pretty reliable. Lady Bug would nurse to sleep between 8:30 and 9:00 pm, and wake just enough to switch boobs every two hours. This was working for us. I don’t get undisturbed sleep, but I am not getting out of bed so I’m not complaining. But, that has flown out the window! Now, she actually wakes at night. Switching boobs is no longer enough. She needs me to soothe her, sway with her, and cuddle with her.

I am not a bug cuddler at 2:00 am. Actually, my cuddle instincts don’t kick in until around 6:30 am. That’s right I said it. When my baby is looking to me for comfort in the wee hours of the morning I can’t help but to think, “okay kid that’s enough! You’re hurting and km tired let’s call it even and go back to sleep!”

I actually caught myself, the other night, offering her a hundred bucks to go to sleep. She didn’t, which was good because that would have really sucked! Like, what does a nine month old need a hundred slacker for? She’d probably blow it all on cardboard boxes and notebook paper. Since, she’s always trying to eat ours and we always take them away from her.

Back to the sucking of seething. So, for any moms that don’t know, teething on its own can be a rough situation, but there are also a few complications that come along with teething that really push the whole experience into the next level of suckage!

First, there is the drool! Shirts get soaked. You put a bib on to help sop up some of the drool. Great, now the bib is soaked! Crap, how did drool get on the couch? Seriously, drool is everywhere. But, it gets worse!

Excess drool can cause diareah. Great, now the baby is a walking, or crawling, science experiment with liquids evacuating her body from both ends. But, wait it gets worser!

With runny poop comes red butts. That’s right the teething rash is bound to show up ay some point in this process! So now your beautiful baby is a crying, dripping, squirmin
g poop shooter with a rash. And you, poor momma, are doing your best to keep up with it all on no sleep when all of the sudden the worstest (yes, I know these are not real words!) Thing of all happens.

Baby, whose gums are sore, decides it hurts too bad to nurse! Now, not all babies decide to grab out their picket signs and babble, “teef hurts I no nurse” while crawling back and forth through the living room, but some do. The absolute best thing you can do at this time is remain calm! This can be a peaceful protest! Your wee one is hurting but will come back to the breast!

Nursing strikes are pretty common around the time that teeth start making an appearance. You can check out these tips from kellymom.com. My Lady Bug has not started protesting the boob yet, but if she does I’m ready!

Honestly, teething sucks. It sucks for parents and the children going through the ordeal. However, we will all make it through this stage and be stronger and more grateful for the quiet moments than we were before!

Just think, after that first little tooth breaks through, only 19 more to go…

Has it Been 6 Months Already?

Lady Bug being weighed following her birth

As I sit here with my Lady Bug’s legs hanging off my lap and resting on the couch, I am forced to wonder where the time went.

It was not so long ago that she spent two months crying from 7pm to 2am every night. I don’t want to go back, but I am sad to think that the infancy of my last child (fingers crossed) is coming to and end.

Everyday she grows a bit more distracted. I offer her the breast, which used to be her sole interest, and she kindly refuses in favor of watching the antics of her older siblings.

To make up for her missed meals, she nurses through out the night. I cling to her during the quiet time. I am guilty of picking her up while she is sleeping, and offering her my breast while she is still sleeping. I used to want nothing more than a baby who slept through the night, but now I find comfort in the closeness of her warmth during those silent hours.

A few months ago I would look to the sky and wonder silently why this baby wouldn’t stop crying. Why wasn’t breastfeeding enough? Why wouldn’t she just let me sleep. I almost gave in to the people who tried to convince me to just give her formula because that would make her stop. Now I look to that same sky and hope that time passes slowly. Please, let me not miss a moment. I need to savor each milestone. I need to burn each image in to my brain.

Soon, I will not have a baby. Soon, I will have a toddler whose intrest in me will decline steadily as the months go by.

I saved this post as a draft because I got too busy to finish it.  It was that day that I found Lady Bug’s first tooth.  Those little ridges poking through her swollen, tender gums prove that she is growing up.  While that may seem dramatic, it marks the end of the only life I have known for 13 years.  I have raised one baby after another, each time swearing it was my last, for 13 years!  I have nurtured each the best I could.  I have tries to be the best mom I could be.

Lady Bug is growing up

Now, with a heavy heart I realize that my baby rearing days will soon come to an end.  I will still be a mother, but I won’t have any heads to smell in search of that sweet, innocence found only in newborn scalp, nor will I be searched out when things seem scary.

I am left to wonder what is next.  When she pushes me away for the last time, what will I do?

Why I breastfeed: From Unapologetic Formula Feeder to Educated Nurser and it Only Took 13 Years!

Let me start this post by explaining that while I wish I had been able to breastfeed each of my children for at least the first year, I was not always as educated about the advantages of breastfeeding. I am not blaming anyone for my decision.  Not even the nurses that tried to help me in the hospital with Queen Sas.  I honestly feel like breastfeeding is a wonderful experience, and if more women felt supported, educated, and assisted through the early stages of a nursing relationship there would be more breastfeeding mothers!

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 1 (1998)
I gave birth and planned to breastfeed my Queen Sas. I tried to get her to latch on when they gave her to me 2 hours after her birth. How kind of the hospital staff to take my new infant and scrub all of the vag germs off of her before I got to spend any real time with her. Latching wasn’t going well so a nurse tried to help me. This nurse was not educated about breastfeeding, but surely grabbing my breast in one hand and the baby’s head in the other and ramming the two together like you are squashing a pb&j will make the baby eat correctly, right? Wrong. As the hours passed the frustration for both Queen Sas and me. She was hungry and screaming. I was tired and crying. At a loss for a solution I demanded they bring me formula so I could soothe my starving infant. She ate and was content. I left the hospital the next morning with my new bundle of joy and a cart full of formula.

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 2 (2001)
I started out strong with my Big Man. I was going to make sure my son got breast milk! I had even figured out how I would avoid the whole idea of any grabby nurses with cold hands ramming my boob in to the baby’s unwilling mouth. I was going to exclusively pump milk for him. I had a good pump and a plan nothing could stop me now. After a quick labor, which was a pitocin induced, scheduled induction, I was the proud mommy of a bouncing baby boy. This time was different though because I left the hospital with a breast pump, a baby, and the best of intentions. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave with any more information about feeding my baby breast milk than I had when I birthed my daughter. I quickly got a plugged duct or an infection who knows as I never knew who to ask, and stopped pumping for Big Man after only a few days. I thought you had to stop feeding the baby if you had an infection. How wrong I was!

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 3 (2003)
I gave up. I had decided that I was just not cut out for breastfeeding. Not once did I attempt to nurse my Princess. Princess was born in March. By the time she was 12 days old she was admitted to the hospital with RSV. She was losing weight due to poor feeding. She has a spinal tap and antibiotics. The next three years were filled with illness for Princess. The poor kid caught every single bug that went around. Her immune system was shot probably because of the early use of antibiotics. Now at 8 she is allergic to amoxicillin. I will always wonder if my colostrum could have protected her.

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 4 (2008)

I had a great start with Wee Man. I separated from the father of my first three children over a year before the pregnancy with Wee Man. I had a great support system at home. Big Daddy and I knew the importance of breast milk for the health of the baby. I think Princess’ early illnesses scared me straight! I was breastfeeding this kid if it killed me. Well, as it turned out after a stressful birth experience (read my birth story for more info) all it took to make me quit nursing him was hives at let down! I had never experienced hives. Wow! That is excruciating! At the time I thought I was having an allergic reaction to the hormones my body was releasing during milk ejection. I tried allergy meds but I am awful with medicine, and the kids were tired of mommy passing out on the couch in a Benadryl coma. Well, I think it was the fact that usually my boobs were hanging out and leaking all over the place because I was passing out while nursing the Wee Man. I was very sad when I decided the itching had won. Defeated and broken I gave my boy formula. I was glad that I had my tubes tied and would never have to revisit my failure to nurse a baby.

Why I breastfeed baby number 5 (2011)

I think my choice to have a homebirth had a lot to do with the success of my nursing relationship with Lady Bug.  First, when you are planning a homebirth with a midwife there is NEVER a question about how you will feed your baby.  The words; “are you planning to bottle feed or breastfeed?” were never spoken.  It is assumed that you will be breastfeeding.  Second the minute your baby is born he or she is placed on your chest!  There is no time lost with needless baths as in the hospital.  Your nursing relationship begins at the very moment of birth.

Since I LOVE lists I am going to break this down in to bulleted points that explain why I am breastfeeding my baby.

  • After 3 of my children having RSV and two of them being hospitalized with it, I wanted to give my baby’s immune system a fighting chance against respiratory infection.
  • I am broke.  Time, patience, and love I have in plentiful amounts. Money, not so much.  Breastfeeding is NOT free.  The things I mentioned before, my time and what not, are not worthless.  Breastfeeding is PRICELESS.  No one else can make the milk I am making for my baby. My budget does not have to suffer for my child te receive the perfect nutrition for her.
  • I really hate the smell of formula poop and spit up.  I also hate the stains. 
  • I am lazy!  I do not like washing and sterilizing bottles, nipples, and pacifiers.  I don’t feel like waking up in the middle of the night to mix formula or warm up my baby’s midnight snack.  I just roll over and pop a boob in her mouth and we are back in dreamland!
  • I CAN do this. 
  • I wanted to protect my daughter from questionable ingredients and potentially harmful additives.  I don’t trust what is being done to our foods these days.  My breast milk is organic and wonderful.  I guarantee there are no GMO’s in this stuff. 
  • I love myself enough to not accept my previous defeats as the end of the story.

I do wish I could have nursed all of my children.  I feel like education is the biggest ingredient I was lacking in my plan to feed them.  I just didn’t know what I was doing.  Breastfeeding my child has been the most rewarding experience of my life.  My chubby Lady Bug is a home-grown work of art.  Her skin is perfect.  Her poop doesn’t stink.  She is happy and secure.  I never have to worry about what she needs because I know that all she needs is me.  It is truly a beautiful thing!

I breastfeed because I can.  It is the right and normal thing to do.