Tuesday, November 26, 2013

nursing past one - and why you should never say never

Even way before babies were the topic of conversation, I knew that I would nurse. My mom nursed both her babies and that is just what seemed natural for me. Now, my pregnancy and delivery may have lacked complications, but trying to be a nursing mom sure kept me on my toes.  When moms would boast they had enough to feed the neighborhood, I would quickly retreat into a mode of despair [baby blues are real, and if you have any issues after delivering, they can manifest quickly, now we joke about it and I no longer feel like it was my fault, just for the record]. I was not producing, and not only could I not feed the neighbor kids [weird saying if I do say so myself], but I could not even support my one, itty bitty baby. The first two months we had to supplement with bottles and formula, something I swore I wouldn't do [I had read too many articles on what goes into formula, and decided it wasn't an option for me].  But then there I was, with a baby who was tiny, had lost over 10% of her birth weight in two days, and I couldn't do a damn thing about it.  She took to the bottles immediately, because she was practically starving, and we continued to nurse, and pump, all day long to try to get me where I needed to be.  Everyday from the time I came home from the hospital I put my little nursing pads into my bra, just hoping and wishing that I would need them that day.  Well, it has been over a year, and no, I never did need those nursing pads.

I had a great friend once describe nursing to me in the beginning as the most unnatural natural experience you will ever have.  And yes, this is the best description I could give as well.  My plan to nurse was really focussed on the health benefits for both my daughter and myself.  And the first two months, that continued to be true.  Having my nursing pillow strapped around myself practically 24-7 and holding my arms and baby in unnatural positions didn't quite have the feeling I was hoping to have about nursing.  But I continued on for those health benefits, and now, a year later, I can say it was the best decision I ever made.

At nine weeks something changed.  Everly must have started to get enough from me because she officially refused a bottle from this point on.  At first I was nervous that she refused the bottle because I knew I was going to end up a working mom, and typically bottles go hand and hand with that.  Thankfully, the working mom gods were with me, and I have been able to exclusively nurse for over a year.  And now that she's one, a new conversation has started, weaning.  It isn't even on my radar at this point, but people assume that you should stop after the babe's first birthday.  However, this is an American ideal, not a world wide practice.  I know many moms that are working hard to change the perception that nursing is only for the newest of babies, and for me the current number I hope to nurse until is two.  Everly will determine when we stop nursing.  My mom never had to wean us, we just stopped nursing when we were ready, and I hope to be able to have the same experience with my daughter.

Now nursing is so much more than "health benefits".  It is the most amazing bond that I have been able to have with my baby, and something I'm so glad I worked through.  I worked through the pain, the soreness, the kink in my back from just sitting in strange positions and now we have mastered the craft. I worked through the times when I was the only one who could console her, even when I really needed a break.  These days Everly sits with her arms and legs wrapped around my sides, and now that she's older, she lets me know when she wants to nurse.  Now before I became a mom I would have proudly stated "once they are old enough to pull out the boob, they are too old for nursing".  Funny how we make statements about things we do not know.  Instead, I love that she can express to me that she wants to share that time with me.  I do not love that she wants to have both boobs out at once, but I digress. Modesty and motherhood do not go hand in hand.  I used to cringe at the idea of too much cleavage. Now I am just trying to make sure I'm not going full frontal in the middle of a dining establishment.


So, I said I would never nurse past one, and now I realize how silly that was.  Not only am I the main source of liquid for my child, I can comfort her in a way that no one else can.  When Everly decides she is ready to stop, I will be excited for her, and maybe cry a tear or two for me.  But for now, I will gladly be there for her in this way and know that this time is special in a way that I cannot describe. And everyday I am thankful that I was able to nurse her, I cannot imagine it any other way.

Mom tip: Issues with supply - I swear by Fenugreek.  I take 3-4 capsules about 4-5 times a day.  And yes, you will smell like maple syrup, but smelling like you work at the local pancake house is totally worth it!  Most grocery stores will sell it in their natural foods department or near the pharmacy.

2 comments:

  1. Well said! You do what works for you. I don't know if you're going to have another one, but I swear, nursing was SO much easier the second time around. I had to do all of the things you wrote about with Noah (and yes, it was SO hard) and none of it with Luke. It was like my body remembered what to do. I love that you're a mommy blogger too. :-) It will be the best family journal ever.

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  2. Yay for mommy bloggers! And good for you (and Everly) for sticking it out through the hard times with nursing :). You're an awesome momma!

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