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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When Love Hurts

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I love my nine-month-old baby. Like all mothers I feel that my baby is the most gorgeous baby I have ever seen. I mean look at her! She is breathtaking!  I love to hold her, rock her, and play with her.

I love nursing my baby. I get all ga ga when she smiles up at me while nursing. My heart melts when she rubs my chest until she slips in to dreamland. Our moments spent nursing will forever be some of my most cherished memories.

Yes, I am totally in love with this beautiful baby.

However, I do not love being bitten, pinched, kicked, slapped, and squeezed! No, these things are not fun. Yet, every nursing session is now filled with any number of combinations of those very things. 

As I sit staring in my nursling’s eyes I am filled with shock as a leg comes flying up and kicks me in the nose! Before the sting of the kick wears off I feel a hard pinch on my not so firm arm (you know the flabby part that made an appearance a short time after you got out of your twenties).

The biting was one thing. I looked it up and realized that this was probably a phase, and most likely had something to do with teething. I did a few times of taking her off the breast, following a bite, and refusing her the breast for about fifteen minutes. All of the sudden the biting stopped. I honestly doubt that my efforts to “train” her had anything to do with it. Her bottom, front teeth broke through, and the biting phase was over. Yay!

That was easy.  After the biting stopped my confidence was renewed! I knew we could tackle her behaviour, and get back to peaceful nursing sessions. So as not to confuse my sweet baby I decided I would approach her lack of nursing etiquette one issue at a time.

Okay, no matter what I try the only thing she doesn’t do while nursing is bite me.  I am covered in scabs on the back of my arm and my chest and neck! I even tried putting socks on her hands for her feeding. Ha! Have you ever tried to get a baby to nurse after you put new “toys” on her hands? Not going to happen! I had to take the socks off so she would eat!

As usual, I consulted http://www.kellymom.com, and as suspected there is a section devoted to unruly babies and their terrible booby manners! Okay, that is not the title of the section, but maybe it should be! Anyway, many of the recommendations are centered around distracting the baby. That makes sense. If she is busy playing with something then she can be attacking my exposed skin.

So, I have decided that I will start looking in to nursing necklaces. Many are quite cute so if it doesn’t stop her from hurting me at least I will have a cute new necklace.

No matter how this sounds I still love nursing my baby.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Like any other stage in a child”s life, there are challenges associated with nursing a baby as they transition in to toddlerhood.  No longer do I worry about my milk supply, or if the baby is latching on correctly. No, now I worry if I can get the baby to sit still long enough to get her required calories. Luckily, we cosleep so she makes up for the shortened nursing sessions at night.

I’m going to do some shopping around, and try to find a nursing necklace that fits my tight budget, and that will hopefully get us through this new phase in my baby’s life.

I will let you all know how it goes!

I’m a Member of the Club!

When I used to think about having a successful nursing relationship with my children I would get very upset. I had encountered so many problems when I tried to nurse them. I had no support, and at the time I didn’t know who to reach out to. Each time my dream of breastfeeding crumbled, and I always thought I would never get in to the club.

The club isn’t a real thing, I know. Well, maybe there are clubs, but the club for me was imaginary. However, I do think it would be great if there was a club like in my imagination. I pictured women sitting in groups talking while their babies were nursing. In my mind they laughed often and enjoyed content babies. It was something that I never thought I could be a part of.

Fast forward through all of the hardships, a tubal ligation, and an unsuspected fifth child and here I am nursing my eight month old with no problems. Not to jinx it or anything, but we have had a pretty easy time with nursing. My little Lady Bug has latched perfectly since birth. She has adjusted well to my forceful let down, and has been gaining weight like a champ since day one! We are looking forward to a long time spending cuddle nursing moments together.

The best part is I am, at long last, in the club! But, wait where is my circle of moms? Where are my laughing ladies with content babies? I don’t know anyone else breastfeeding right now! My club stinks!

I realize, now that I am successfully nursing my baby, that the exclusive club, I imagined for so long, was only a dream. Honestly, if Lady Bug had problems with her latch, weight gain, or anything else I would have been on my own.

I have researched a lot since is started nursing my baby, and even thought about becoming a breastfeeding counselor or midwife.  I have a longing to surround myself with like-minded women.  I want to share my story of  making the switch from formula to breastfeeding, and how much better the latter can be!  I have tried to surround myself with virtual friends who can be a support network for my baby and me, if needed. But, I still don’t have anyone in my club.

I decided to reach out to people through writing a blog. I thought maybe someone could learn something from my experiences with raising my children. Yet, I am still alone in my club. Formula feeders tend to look at my like I am crazy when I nurse my baby, and they almost always offer their reasons for not Breastfeeding. I promise people, I am not judging you, nor am I asking for your explanation for the way you feed your baby. I get the impression from these women that they are thinking that I think I am better than them. Even if that’s not true, no one is inviting me to playdates, or mommy dates for that matter.

Okay, so my club can’t be a mix of formula and breastfeeding women. It seems like we are on opposite ends of the mommy spectrum, and as much as I would love to invite all of the formula feeding mammas I know over for coffee I just can’t deal with it all. While I don’t think I am better than them, I know the nutrition my baby OS getting from me is better than theirs and I am not going to defend myself constantly. Wait, what I mean defend myself? All of my formula feeding “friends” seem to think that Breastfeeding is too this or that. You know the comments so I don’t need to write them all.

Alas, I am still alone in my club.  I know that there are meetings through the La Leche League, but I thought it would be more like a group of women that just naturally gravitated toward one another because of like interests not like a group that you go find.  I am thinking about going to a La Leche meeting, though.  It may be the only way I can find a local group of women to relate to. I just have to get over my fear of walking in to a room filled with people I don’t know. I feel late for the party and I don’t want everything to stop and all the people to stare at me as I walk through the door. I know they won’t its ky silly imagination making things up again.

Boob in the Mouth

Announcing a parenting innovation unmatched by any before it. ” Boob in the Mouth” solves many common childhood ailments!

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Boob in the Mouth 

 

  

 

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Get your “Boob in the Mouth” today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sizes may vary.  May cause drowsiness.  Not recommended for use while driving a motor vehicle.  Not available in stores! 

 

Will I Ever Sleep Again?

This is my sweet Lady Bug at a couple of weeks old sitting in my most prized baby holder, the swing.

 

Isn’t she cute?  It took exactly the same amount of time that it took my camera’s flash to go off for her to start screaming in that thing.  Day or night. Awake or sound asleep.  That swing did nothing to help her sleep.

This is baby number 5! I really thought I knew the game plan when it came to babies.  Baby is born. Baby is kind of hard for the few week or so, but then magic happens and baby starts sleeping in the swing or the play pen. WRONG.

 Lady Bug came out of my womb knowing exactly where she wanted to be and it’s in momma’s arms.

I have always shared my room with my babies.  Some were in the room longer than others but they all started out close to my bed.  Queen Sas was in my bed from age 1 to about age 6!  She was a different story though because of her terrible night terrors.  I thought I learned a lesson after her, however.  First, don’t do the “ten minute rule,” which is a nasty program that allows baby to CIO for ten minutes.  Second, don’t ever let them get in your bed!

Of course, those rules changed with my Wee Man.  After his hospitalization with RSV at 9 months old, severe reflux, and asthma Big Daddy and I were always sleeping with him.  He was so sick that we spent a lot of nights on the couch with him.  Note the on the couch part.  Not in the bed!

So, I thought I knew the road I was about to travel down.  Apparently not.  Lady Bug came in to this world peacefully.  After her birth Big Daddy held her and visited with grandparents while I napped, and that was the last bit of uninterrupted sleep I got!  She was colicky for the first 2 months. from 7pm to 4 am she cried.  This happened every night.  I slept on the couch with her during that stressful time period.  When the colic passed I was still on the couch with her because she wouldn’t let me put her down.  She didn’t let me put her down EVER!  Day and night she was in my arms, a sling, or a carrier. 

Everything changed one night when we went to sleep on the couch and I was ripped from my slumber by her screams coming from the floor!  My ming was racing as I jumped up and grabbed her.  She looked fine, and her screams lasted about a minute before she was nursing contentedly.  I woke up Big Daddy.  I was seriously panicking, and I was pretty sure that she was hurt.  She was fine.  But I knew that sleeping on the couch was not safe and this proved it.

So what am I doing now?  Bed sharing.  We side-carred her crib to our bed so we wouldn’t have to worry about her falling out, and to allow extra room since Wee Man ends up in our bed every night now.  I spend my nights waking every hour or so with Lady Bug.  She doesn’t wake up completely, mind you.  We usually switch sides and she latches to the other boob and we drift back in to dream land.  It is not so bad.  I know she is safe in my arms. She obviously knows she is safe in my arms since she has never slept a night not in them. 

 

I am just so tired.  Even a partial waking every hour or so seems to be enough to drain me.  Oh well, at least I am not having to get up and mix formula.

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.