Tuesday, October 23, 2012

179 weeks/45 months/3 years 9 months

179 weeks
45 months
3 years 9 months

That's the time I've spent nursing my children during my lifetime. I'd hoped to add at least another 18 months onto that. But it won't happen.

one of the few photos I have of her nursing
A, at just 7 months old, is done nursing.

I am grieving for the loss of this part of our relationship. I again (like with B at 4 months) was not ready. I fought this from happening since July.

A Bit of History

I breastfed my oldest for just 6 weeks. But the fact that I did it was an awesome thing to being with. I was 16 when she was born, and most teen mothers don't even try. But I did and she was able to get the antibodies the breastfeeding provides in the first 6 weeks. For this I'm proud. I tried and succeeded as best as I could when others don't.

With my oldest son we only made it 3 weeks. But again the odds were against us. I had no support, was in a horrible relationship, and he, from birth, had a bad latch. 3 weeks I struggled to do what I could but without anyone to turn to it was easier and less stressful to just go to a bottle.

With little girl number 2 I was more committed. 3 months and I felt satisfied. I was going to work, part time, so it felt like a good place to stop.

Little girl number 4. I wanted to get to a year. I was committed, even had a breast pump. I went back to work when she was just 3 weeks old. It was supposed to be just part time but I very quickly got thrown back into more hours. At 4 months old she started to refuse, my milk supply started to drop, I tried everything I could to keep it up and pump so she could at least have breast milk in her bottles. But it ended too soon.

Son number 2. Our relationship is my most successful relationship, not the longest but what we overcame was huge. He was born at 34 weeks, 6 weeks early, and spent his first week in the NICU. He had no health problems due to his early birth but needed to learn to eat. He started with a gavage tube to eat, then onto learning to nurse and suck from a bottle (all breast milk during this- I pumped mass quantities for him). He came home on the bottle, me still pumping and teaching him to take from the breast. After about a month at home most of his feedings were from the breast and at 2 months he completely weened from the bottle. Where he stayed until 9 months, when he went on a nursing strike and I ended up weaning him to a bottle (pumping for a month) and then onto formula. We went from bottle feeding and gavage tubes to breastfeeding successfully for 9 months, a triumph.

Son number 3 took to breastfeeding like a champ, every two hours until 10 months of age, when I needed a bit of a break and supplemented a few formula bottles. He weaned from the bottles at a year and we continued breastfeeding another month. My longest breastfeeding relationship.

Son number 4 didn't nurse right away at birth, he took his time to get good and hungry, our first nursing session was a good 12 hours after birth. After that he nursed every 2-3 hours, and would sleep through the night without nursing from then on (yes I'm saying he slept thru the night since birth, but I'm paying for that now at 1.5 as he's an early riser.). I became pregnant when he was 6 months old and my milk dried up pretty quickly. I was able to accept this without much guilt, I had to nourish myself, the growing baby and him some how and something had to give.

A nursed immediately after birth, but like son number 4, she slept thru the night from early on. And nursed every 2 hours during the day. We were doing pretty well until it got really hot here, at the end of June. Then I felt she wasn't getting enough, I wasn't making enough. Both she and I were sweating constantly and I was drinking at least 2-3 cups of water an hour. But she looked as if she was getting thinner, was eating every 30 mins, and seemed to be still hungry after nursing. My milk supply was not increasing as it should've. I began to worry. At this time a few other things happened that didn't help, my older kids went to my mom's to visit for the month, and dh started to work multiple double shifts in a row- leaving me home, without support, caring for 4 small children alone. I'd sit down to nurse A and would literally get mobbed by the others, she and I were a jungle gym. I was struggling, I sought help in the form of advice from my online community, and received loads of it. But I still didn't have any at home.

As she seemed to get thinner, I knew I needed to be giving her more. She was 4 months old and my initial thought was to start some solids and water, that I didn't want to do formula and bottles because I had a feeling it would hamper her nursing. But I also wanted to make sure she was getting what was best. I had two options solids or formula. I went with formula. Very quickly she started to prefer them, and I fought with her to nurse for 2 months (trying very suggestion, tip and piece of advice out there, listening to her scream/cry for up to 30 mins before I couldn't take it anymore and would break down and just give her the bottle she wanted) before I came to accept it as it was and go with what she wanted. We were able to keep nursing a bit, slowly she'd refuse more and more nursing sessions. We were down to just twice a day, both at night when she was sleepy. But a week after turning 7 months she is now even refusing that. It's been a week and she hasn't wanted/accepted the breast once. 7 months 1 week.

I completely regret not following my instinct and just starting some water and solids, just waiting out the heat a bit longer before trying/adding formula and bottles. I had known in my gut it would happen like this. My girl is so independent give her an inch and she'll run (heck she's trying to walk at 7 months old!). The solids and water would not have be nutritionally  as good for her as the formula, but the formula she's on now is not as complete as the breast milk she would've still been getting now.

And I do harbor some resentment towards the load I was given during July. Had I'd had more hands on support and not have had to do it alone I wouldn't have put her needs on the back burner. I will probably hold that for a very long time.

A is my last. I had this vision of us nursing until 2, at least. Being my last baby I wanted that bond, babyhood to last as long as possible. But like many things with A, I'm learning to have no expectations. Sometimes that is good. Sometimes not. I get to see surprises and I get to walk through grief. I am grieving over this loss.

But I am looking to walk through it. And as a consulation prize I get to get a tattoo sooner than I orginally thought. Now just to find the exact right one, and the money.

Her 1st feed

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