Thursday, May 5, 2016
People tend to freak out when you talk about nursing. It's such a taboo subject for some reason--I suppose maybe because people feel super strongly about it, one way or another. I'm not that way and I never was. I definitely did want to nurse Charlotte if I could but if I couldn't, I wasn't going to be too upset (or at least that's what I said). It is what it is, right? We had some trouble starting out but I was determined to give it my all and after a few days (and one hospital stay with TONS of help from the most amazing nurses around and a house call from my sweet friend Casey who is a lactation consultant) C and I were able to figure out the whole process and settle into a routine. This routine was both the hardest thing I have ever done and at the same time the easiest. I always knew where her food was and I made as much as she needed (but not much more), thankfully. There was relatively little prep and when she was on just milk only, we spent no money for her food! Of course being a working mama made it a little more difficult since I had to pump and think way ahead in order to make sure she had enough milk for the length of time I was to be away from her, but I managed. Looking back I don't know why I didn't just have the mindset that it would be totally fine for her to have a little formula here and there, as I think formula is just fine. Planning ahead sometimes was really hard once she started to eat more. I would have to "ration" the pumped milk to save enough if I wanted to be gone for an extended period of time so I would have to come home early from work so I could feed her instead of her nanny giving her pumped milk. I was considering trying out for the Olympic nursing team when I planned an entire week of work around pumping enough milk so I could go to the Bama v. Tennessee game in Tuscaloosa (and she was already eating baby food at this point). It was especially hard for me to wake up with her every two hours at night for days when she would go through a growth spurt. She hit the 4 month sleep regression and growth spurt when I was at the beach for 10 days. I spent literally 4 hours on the beach, as the rest of the time I was nursing her every 2 hours day and night or sleeping. Formula added into the equation would have really really made things easier--even just one bottle in the night so Forrest could feed her while I slept for more than an hour at a time. But no, I was her mommy and I could feed her so I was going to feed her. I felt like since I could do it I needed to because there were some mommies that couldn't do it and they wanted to and I was lucky to be able to. Oh well--hindsight is twenty twenty and I did not die--should there be a next time hopefully I will be much less rigid! Charlotte nursed exclusively for the first 4 months of her life. That was all me. I was actually really really proud of myself since we had a rocky start. That girl grew and got so fat and roly poly and it was all because of me! When she hit that 4 months growth spurt that nearly sent me to the psych ward--we realized then it was time for baby food! She didn't care for cereal but she did love everything else. She still nursed, and I'm surprised to say that I don't remember the frequency any more. I think she would nurse (or take a pumped bottle) when she woke up, then before lunch, and before all naps and before bed and of course during the night. She on her own would drop a feed, starting with the one at lunch and then the one first thing in the morning and of course the one before naps when she dropped those naps. After a while, with the introduction of more and more food, she was only nursing before her afternoon nap and before bed and during the night (she has never been a great sleeper and I can never get around to writing that post). In December, after a small meltdown from exhaustion, I finally admitted to myself that she was a little too attached to nursing. If Forrest got up with her in the night, at first she would scream and be mad and want me. After a day or two, she would just take her bottle and settle right to sleep. If I got up with her, she wanted to nurse and have me hold her for hours. I knew this was not the way things needed to be, especially at 10 months old, so I had to make a hard decision. I stopped nursing, cold turkey, on New Years Eve. I knew, probably a few months earlier, that nursing had become a terrible crutch for her but I wasn't ready to let it go. I was so worried she would be sad or mad at me. Turns out, she didn't seem to mind. I gave her a bottle before her afternoon nap, and she was fine. Forrest got her at night for a few nights in a row and gave her a bottle and she was fine. When I went in at night after that with a bottle, she was fine. I was so relieved and a little annoyed at myself for not trying earlier when I knew I should have. I guess I didn't want to be seen as a quitter (I hadn't made it to 12 months), or lazy (since the decision was really made because I was exhausted). However, the decision was the best for HER and that's what matters. She immediately started sleeping better and took to whole milk just fine! I was amazed at how quickly my body stopped producing milk and went back to it's regular size. I still forget I can order salads for my meal (eating lots of green veggies would upset C's tummy), drink more than one glass of wine at a time, or do things like getting a spray tan. I still catch myself counting the hours I will be away from her, planning my outfit for easy nursing or pump access, or worrying about where my pump is. As hard as nursing was, I definitely would do it again, with some major tweaks in there. I loved the bonding and closeness I shared with her for all those months. I liked knowing that I was doing something great for her (and my own) health. My words of advice to all the moms out there would be do to what you think is best for your own baby..there is no contest or prize for who can nurse the longest or most. If it works, it works, and if it doesn't, it doesn't. Don't get caught up in all the clutter out there telling you what you should do and how...just listen to yourself and your baby. Don't decide you are going to nurse for 12 months, or 5 times a day or whatever--just set loose goals and reevaluate often. It's ok to change your mind at any time, adjust your plans midstream, and take one day at a time. Don't read a bunch of stuff online--talk to a few friends who have nursed and listen to them--real experience is the best teacher. Ask a nurse or lactation consultant for help--they are typically very passionate about their jobs and are very happy to talk to you. It's ok to talk about it and most importantly ask for help!! I struggled silently for a long time when a simple conversation with someone would have made me see some adjustments needed to be made and that those adjustments weren't "failures". If you decide that nursing is best for you and your baby--good luck! I'm supporting you all the way and you can ask me any questions!!