Thursday, June 4, 2009

If These Boobs Could Talk

Before Mason was born, I decided to breastfeed. I don't know why--the cost effective nature? The health benefits? My controlling personality? Who knows... I Googled books and decided that "So That's What They're For!" would be my boob bible. It was great--funny, informative, well-written. I had decided to commit, persist and be a nursing hero.

So as the story goes of course, preemie, NICU, me on meds not compatible with nursing, pumping and dumping round the clock for two weeks until....

The day came that he could nurse. And he actually did it.

Wonder of wonders, this should be recognized as a miracle. Anyone who knows anything about newborn babies knows that it's 1 kid in 1000 that will spend two weeks bottle feeding and switch to breastfeeding. Not to say it was easy--it wasn't--freaking hard would be a much better description. You will recall my commit, persist and nursing hero declaration from the beginning. But soon enough he got he hang of it, I got the hang of it and before you knew it he was 10 months old, still nursing, and I was pregnant again.

Due to Mason's preemie status, I was immediately pressured from all angles to wean him due to the new pregnancy. I held off for a month, and weaned him at 11 months. It was sad, a little, but I knew there was another nursling coming 'round the bend.

Cole was born the nursing champ. I swear, if there was a contest on nursing, he would win it, hands down. It was great! Until.... he got sick, calorie counting became an issue and he refused to take a bottle. Or a sippy cup. Which basically sentenced me to a life of a little man hanging from my boob.

Months and months I tried to get him to take a bottle or a cup. I bought every brand, every variation. Frustration doesn't even begin to describe it. Tried formula, pumped milk, cow's milk, water, juice, beer... only kidding about that last one. Just checking to see if you're paying attention.

Finally, right around his first birthday, I broke him. And you'll never guess how. I put Nesquick in his milk. Judge me if you will, but he finally drank it, and after a week or so on the chocolaty goodness he would drink anything from his prized sippy cup. And so he joined the ranks of the weaned. And boy, was I glad that struggle was over.

Which brings us to Miss Lila. She didn't eat for four days after she was born. Stubborn little thing. The lactation consultants at the hospital had all been laid off, save one part timer who never stopped by to see me. She didn't have enough time to see everyone, and I wasn't a new mom so I was low on the priority list apparently. I had no help, but I knew we'd be fine--my will was stronger than hers. If she had been my first baby, I would have definitely given up. Pressure came from all angles that shall remain nameless that I should give her a bottle. No, she'll eat when she realizes she's hungry, which was confirmed by the Good Dr. W. (who everybody who knows him know he knows everything). : )

Sure enough, Day 4 rolled around is seems she realized she was hungry because she started nursing. Like I said, my will was stronger.

I had learned my lesson (the hard, hard way) with Cole and offered her a bottle more often. Somehow in the haze of having three small kids with a husband who works out of town, I fit daily pumping into my schedule and built a little freezer stash. It was prized.

It didn't take long to realize how much LilaGirl loved her bottle. She's see one and bounce shake jump cry wretch to have it. So I hid them, and continued to nurse her. I would hear from time to time someone speak of how her baby "weaned himself." Baloney, I thought. I rank that up there with people claiming to not make enough milk, which is about 1% of the population of mothers. But that's another post. There came a point around seven months that I thought how quickly she would wean if I let her. But I didn't. I struggled with her, and it sucked. (Pun intended? I'm not sure.)

And once again we have come to what seems like the theme of all my stories--how each of my kids has been so different. The boy who nursed despite the odds. The boy who wouldn't give it up for gold. And the little girl who loved her baba.

But the point of this whole diatribe is that a couple of weeks ago, Lila was weaned. I swear she felt like she won a victory, but I'm probably reading into this a bit. But I'm almost certain I saw a little smirk of victory on her face as I handed her the baba that morning...

Pardon me, but I don't feel sad. Not happy, but not sad. Relieved, perhaps. I have spent nearly three years of my life lactating. Much longer and I might very well begin to moo. I know more about milk production, storage, health benefits, cost effectiveness, pumping, increasing supply, support, criticism, nursing strikes and growth spurts than I ever though possible. I am my own personal La Leche League. And truly, I believe it's extraordinarily important. BUT, I counted it up, and there's only been four months out of the past five and a half years that I haven't been pregnant or lactating, and boy do I deserve a break.


The Manrings said...

oh congratulations. loved reading your words and to hear your breastfeeding stories. its hard to find any fellow breastfeeding heros out there anymore. you should feel proud for how you have nurtured and nourished your three little ones. you do deserve a break...seriously. yipppeee for your big one year old! samantha's still holding on to her opposition to the sippy cup, maybe i should try some chocolate too? heehe

Ashley said...

Lindsey--seriously, try flavored milk or Pediasure. Pediasure is very good for them anyway. There's also chocolate soy milk, and a zillion kinds of flavored non-cow's milk at Sweetbay. They'll do anything for the sweet stuff! LOL Also the soft top Nuby cups were all three of my kids' favorite first sippy cups. I think they are the easiest to drink from because even if they just bite down on them, milk comes out.