Tag Archives: breastfeeding

The minor heartbreak of growing up

This morning at about 6am, my 2 year old woke up and called me. It was way too early for her to be up but she wanted “up” so I took a chance and brought her back to bed with me.

She hasn’t slept with me in the morning since early December when I stopped letting her nurse in bed with me for an hour. It was our last nursing session of the day. Since, she has been set against sleeping with me in my bed, even when I kind of wanted her to (especially when it was too cold in the apartment last week).
However, this morning she willingly came into bed with me, started pulling up my shirt…and then I think she kind of realized she couldn’t nurse. Like that part of her life was really over. She laid there and pet my boob for about 10 minutes and fell back asleep against it.

The amorphous “they” say that growing up is a long series of letting go. It’s tiny fragments of a heartbreaking odyssey.

I wanted to be done nursing for a long time, pretty much after month 8 I was ready to move on. But my daughter loved it so, LOVED it. And I had a hard time taking away the one thing that had been such a constant source of comfort from the moment she drew breath. It was nutrition, security, a sleep-inducer, a coping mechanism for sickness, and a reset button for emotional distress. It got us through take off and landing ear popping and kept her quiet during concerts. It put her to bed every single night for 2 years. I said I was going to quit after a year, but when she turned 1, there was NO way she was going to let me. I said I’d “revisit” the issue at 18 months, but even then, she still needed it at bedtime and during the night sometimes. At 2, we started trying to put her to bed without it, but she still needed it to stay asleep in the early early morning hours.

I nursed her for 27 months, 2 weeks, and a day.

It’s probably fitting that our last time was on the bed that my husband and I had in college, the one he first told me he loved me on, which is currently living in my in-laws blue guest bedroom. I didn’t know it would be our last time, but that’s probably for the best. I think I was half asleep anyway.

It’s the end of a chapter. Even if I never really enjoyed nursing as much as I thought I might, I’m so glad I did and I’m actually pretty proud of myself for making it this far.

And I’m proud of my little girl for growing up, even if it’s sad letting go.

Has this blog discussed boobs enough yet?

May I please have my boobs back though?

I have been nursing so long now that I am starting to forget what it was like to wear a normal bra, a shift dress, have a day where I don’t have to hold still and have someone chew on me for an hour or longer.

I can’t really say how many times my daughter nurses in one day, thanks for asking Dr. Pediatrician. It varies greatly. Today? It was about 700 times. I know this because around 2pm, I pretty much gave up rehooking my bra tabs. Other days, I start to feel optimistic that we’re almost done because she’ll go most of the day without demanding it.

And she never “requests,” she demands.

Occasionally, I can distract her (Squirrel!) or bribe her with a sippy or a real cup of cold water or milk. We don’t give her any kind of juice and I almost never refuse to let her nurse if she absolutely insists after these tricks.

And I’m a huge sucker (or is it suckee?) in the morning when I just want to sleep a little longer and I know that she’ll just stay in bed with me for a little while if I just give her boob access. Partly this is due to her waking up too early and if she won’t go back to sleep, the whole day is miserable. But a lot of it is just me, being tired.

I haven’t completely decided to quit cold turkey, and I am pretty sure I couldn’t do that anyway. I have successfully eliminated nursing between bedtime and about 5am, so that’s something I guess. I fully expect it will take until she’s 2 to wean. After 2, then we’ll have to reassess the situation and I may have to start getting a bit more pushy. By which, I mean making my husband dress up like Elmo and run into the room every time she demands to nurse.

Weaning vs. Potty Training

My 16 month old has a fair amount of curiosity about the potty. I’d like to work with that. I haven’t outright DECIDED that it’s time to “potty train,” but it seems like a good idea to start making some positive habits.

My 16 month old also has many night-time nursing sessions. I’d like to eliminate those. She doesn’t need them and she is capable of going back to sleep without them. The problem is, when she decides she wants to nurse in the middle of the night, there is no deterring her. We’re not just talking about a “few nights” of unhappiness, this is full-scale hysteria and I’m pretty sure I’d scar my kid for life if I tried to make her quit cold-turkey.

In the battle of Weaning versus Potty Training, I fully expect the latter to win soundly.

It seems slightly ridiculous to me that I’m even thinking about moving my kid out of diapers when she can’t even get through one night without nursing at least a few times. Isn’t this weird? Am I putting the cart before the horse? Am I crazy?

The last one was rhetorical.

Right now, the biggest sleep challenge we’ve had since we got home from our travels is Being Set Down in the Crib. This hasn’t been a problem for almost 8 months. It has sometimes been a problem in the middle of the night (usually around 3 or 4am when she wants to go to bed with me), but not at the beginning of it! I’m at a loss. I’m just hoping it’s a phase because I don’t really know how to deal with it other than to just keep trying to get her to lay down and go back to sleep.

A voice in the back of my head keeps telling me this is the moment where my daughter will start hating me just a tiny bit. If they say that motherhood is a long process of letting go, then my kid is going to hate her mother because the one thing I know about her for sure: she doesn’t want to be let go of.

A Wednesday Morning Vignette

Give Me ALL Your Boob Now!

It’s 5:46 AM. For the past two hours my son has been climbing all over me and terrorizing my person generally and my boobs specifically.  He wants to nurse while laying next to me on his stomach, then he wants to lay on top of me, then he wants to kneel next to me, then he wants to lay on his back next to me. All of these configurations are apparently unsatisfactory because after a minute or so he keeps unlatching, letting out a few whines, inventing some new impossible position, and going back in.

In 14 minutes I need to get up to get ready for work.

In case there was any question about who is in charge…

If I remember my art history correctly, it was suggested that one of the interpretations of this famous work of art is that without the help of clothing to show the relative station of the women pictured, the famous “nipple pinch” was shown to indicate which was superior.* The women shown are actually sisters. Do you always hurt the ones you love?

Anyway, I have to tell you that I’m pretty sick of nursing. My kid is pretty attached to it and so, like so much else, everything revolves around her. I was hoping that she’d tire of it, learn about the fun world of food and it’s infinite variety, and eschew my single offering. Alas, the nursing continues. And the biting. And the scratching. And the pinching. And lately, the pushing and writhing.

It was during a delightful pinching while I put her to bed tonight that this painting resurfaced in my memory.

I tried not to laugh.

I am not sure my daughter knows she pretty much “owns” me but as we press on to the terrible 2’s, I think she is starting to realize it.

*The Louvre website also suggests that the pinch is a reference to the afflicted sister being pregnant with Henry IV’s illegitimate son. Anyone who’s been pregnant will know, you do NOT PINCH A PREGNANT WOMAN’S BOOBS. I bet there was hell to pay after this portrait sitting…

Wardrobe dysfunction

Sometime around my 5th month of pregnancy (the golden age after the nausea and before everything hurt), it occurred to me that I would soon be breastfeeding a baby around the clock and that this was going to have some serious impact on my clothing choices, but I underestimated how much so.

Leaving the whole giant issue of nursing bras aside, you kind of need to be prepared for this whole breastfeeding-friendly clothing thing and I’m not sure that any guides or classes or FAQ’s out there really make a serious point of this. Sure, there are “nursing tanks” and “nursing tops” and even the occasional “nursing dress.” And there IS nursing sleepwear, but seriously, who buys it? Don’t we all sleep in ragamuffin oversize shirts with our baby attached to us like a leech for the first several months. But on a practical level, you can’t turn your whole closet into specialized nursing apparel, nor would you want to since most of it is well… yawn.

For the first few months, since I wasn’t going anywhere super fancy, I rocked the jeans (for awhile maternity, then regular) and t-shirts (I am, as you will probably learn soon a huge fan of the J Crew embellished tee). At home, I was lucky to leave pyjamas if I didn’t have to. But as the months flew by and the seasons changed, it became clear that huge sections of my closet just weren’t going to work. Dresses that zip up the back, up the side, or are fitted shifts where the shoulder won’t come off without taking off the whole dress, those are right out. And there’s more: tailored/fitted tops that are too hard to get up in a hurry, sweaters that are too scratchy against a baby’s cheek, jackets that have to be taken off and seem like just one unnecessary step when you have a crying baby, button down shirts that now don’t fit because your boobs are ridiculous, all clothing made from delicate fabrics that could easily stain, tear, snag. The list goes on.

And I know Julia can attest that this situation is only made worse by having to adopt a corporate-workplace attire. I’m sure it’s delightful to wake up having had only one sixth the sleep your body needs and have to make logical and rapid choices about what will look acceptable and what will also allow rapid boob access so you can pump while you do several other things. It’s like some kind of horrible flip-side of being a stripper: you need to get your top off quickly and easily but you can’t wear anything flashy, you aren’t going to have any fun, you’ll probably be in a dull room, but hopefully, if things go well, you’ll still get paid.

For myself, I have found myself in a few awkward situations where I wore the wrong thing out, ended up unintentionally far-too-close-to-naked or frustrated myself and the baby trying to deal with clothing. And anyone who’s been there knows how much fun it is to be standing up in a gross public restroom holding several bags and trying to get a flailing baby to eat and you can’t. get. your. stupid. shirt up… and then something falls off your arm, you are losing grip of your coat, your arm muscles are burning, then suddenly the diaper-bag is in a floor-puddle and it’s so gross and you kind of want to cry…

Now that I’m a year in (golden boobies, as the ladies over on babycenter call them), I might have all of this under control now: what to wear for various occasions so I will not embarrass myself or have to have a wardrobe assistant just to get the job done. I’m hoping to achieve the liberation that is 100% closet freedom (a fully weaned child) by next summer. In the mean time, hang in there pretty shift dresses! Momma will see you again. Enjoy your back-of-closet hibernation!