Sunday, October 21, 2007

Breastfeeding a 15 month old

One of my passions is breastfeeding. I certainly never saw this coming! I remember wondering about what it would be like to nurse a child during those long 9 months of pregnancy. It was bizarre to think of how that would feel. My breasts had been a part of my sexual identity for the most part up until that point. How would it feel to use them differently? Would my body even perform correctly? One of the funniest things I said after delivering my darling son was....that I because i had never had any leakage and I couldnt see any holes in my nipples..did I need to use tacks to get them started (i was joking btw)? Sounds gross ..but at the time my midwife thought it was hilarious. Oh the naivety of a first time mother. Sweet, innocent and stupid to some degree.

Well the milk did indeed start flowing. It was day 3 at the dr visit, that my breasts became hard and I realized that things were changing. My body was doing what it was programmed to do...and milk was being made! Wow...thats just crazy. Bet Grant was happy bout it. And it turned out...that nursing wasnt felt natural..meaningful instead of awkward, loving instead of strange.

My original goal was 6 months. I had NO idea what it was going to be like, or how I would feel about it after I started nursing. Like I said...i didnt know going into it that it was for me or that i could handle the demand. And it was not easy in the beginning. Grant was not a great fact he was a terrible latch! My first hours after delivery was spent encouraging him to get a grip. He kept slipping off and at first it didnt phase me (i was in a hormone induced trip of sorts). But as the hours turned into days into weeks...i was exhausted from the process. We were nursing 12 out of 24 hours. The process of getting him latched took longer than the actual feeding. It was crazy! Im so glad i stuck it out though.

It didnt help that he started screaming bloody murder while eating at about day 4. I was at a loss. He wanted to nurse but then would start screaming. It was truly an aweful feeling ...not being able to help him. I desperately got on the computer and looked up my local le leache league contact. Crying and exhausted, we decided that it was probably the spicey food I had been eating. Long story was more than my diet. Grant had GERD, or infant reflux. He was in a great deal of pain from the stomach acid coming back up his throat. It took us 2 months to figure this out. Those early weeks were filled with fear and stress...but through it all I held on to the fact that breast milk is best...and kept nursing even when speciality formula was pushed on me.

Once he became a master of the latch...and the GERD was controlled with medication...things became easier. I was still creating a ritual out of nursing though...on the couch & with 3 pillows to keep me comfortable. Day or night we journeyed to the living room. We did not have a tv in there at the time so late at night I would listen to NPR and stare at my sweet baby. His contented coos was all the reward I needed. For a while there I would even pump (express milk) after the nursing session. Damn...i was dedicated! Shocks me when i think about it.

The 6th month came...and by that time...I had gotten used to the lifestyle. I had even come to adore that time we had together...cuddling, staring into each others eyes, knowing he was being nourished. It is precious! Even when I aunt flow came back and pms made my nipples sensitive just when he was teething and decided to started nibbling (ok, biting hard)...i almost gave fact i threatened to give up...but fortunatley my hormones settled down and i never had to use formula. So my new goal was 1 year. I was still pumping 3 -4 times a day (so he had milk at day care).

The next 6 months were a breeze. We settled into our relationship. I set boundaries when needed (biting mainly) and he adored me for my gift to him. The fact that he had health challenges reinforced my reasons for breastfeeding. The benefits are proven and even my mainstream drs were saying to go for it.

At 12 months..most people were asking me when i was going to stop. Why are people so against extended breastfeeding? Extended to me means beyond 2 years...but for the average person...beyond 1 year is truly revolutionary hehe. That is so wierd...bc the benefits continue. Why do the uninformed insist that we stop something that is good for babies which is essentially good for humanity? It doesnt make since. So after we hit 1 year...i didnt set another goal. We are going to keep nursing till it isnt working for one of us (or both of us) anymore. Right now...we are comfortable. Yes it can be taxing, yes it can be uncomfortable...but is amazing.

Im going to write this post in 2 parts bc it is lengthy...and bc DS deserves my attention on this gorgeous sunday afternoon.Tomorrow i will describe what it is like to nurse a big 15 month old! I guess most mamas dont make it this far. I can tell you that I wouldnt wish it any other way. I feel blessed to be able to serve him in this way. He is a lucky boy...and i am a lucky mama. It isnt always physiologically possible for women to nurse...but when it is...i strongly encourage women to dedicate themselves to the cause. Your child will benefit in ways we cannot even put words too.



Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post to read, Paula. You and Grant have come through so much, with a dedication to nursing that is rare and completely admirable.

I forgot that it's "weird" to nurse a toddler. I can't think of a better way to handle screaming tantrums, ya dig?

Two thumbs up, mama, you've put so much in, but Grant will benefit forever no doubt. Looking forward to part II!

SAHMmy Says said...

Great article! My daughter just turned one; she's (hopefully) my last baby and I'm not setting an end date for nursing either. I'll just have to deal with MIL's constant "aren't you done with THAT yet" questions. Just like I did with my son--I nursed him to 15 months, but looking back, I see that I stopped because of outside influences. This time it'll be up to my daughter and me.

♥.Trish.♥ Drumboys said...

It's Brillant.Awesome you are still able to BF/nurse Grant.It was lovely to read . Congratulations.I have also been BF my twin sons for 15 months. One only started to Bf at 5 months (I expressed for him too for the first 5 months as he refused to BF).
I love it though some days now are a challenge with all the acrobatics and tantrums.I am looking forward to part 2 too !

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful post. My little guy (and last baby) turns 1 in a month, and I have no idea when we'll stop. I didn't nurse my older two, and if I have any regrets in life, that's pretty much it. It is a beautiful thing, even on the days I feel tied down and touched out.

Kudos to you! I'm interested to read what nursing a toddler is like as I ready myself to enter into that phase.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciated reading this post. My beautiful boy just turned 19 months, and we ended our breastfeeding relationship about two weeks ago. He was ready to move on, and even though I was mostly glad to be done, I was a little sad, too. It is truly a precious time between mother and child that can never be duplicated. Thanks for sharing those thoughts. Glad to know that I am not alone. I always felt a little weird explaining to people that I was still breastfeeding a 19 month old. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm too a passionate breastfeeding Mum- to my Lo who is 15 months- I also help other new mums to establish BF'ing in the early days.
I feel really sad when I see new borns being bottle fed- both mum and baby are missing out on something truly special-