Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We're Done Here - when your 10 month old breaks up with you

I've nursed both of my bio-babies.  LB nursed for 17 months without a hiccup (in fact, she was an excessive nurser).  So, when SP was born, it was pretty natural and the whole process came back to me easily.  In fact, it was easier than the first time around because there were some things about nursing that have a learning curve, like good latch and positioning. 

It never dawned on me that SP would not nurse to the 1 year mark and beyond.  Two years old is kind of my mental cut-off point, although I've never had a 2 y/o melting down and just needing a nurse/cuddle, so I can't really say if I would've called it quits before or after the 2 year mark.  I certainly wouldn't have pictured calling it quits at 10 months.  But babies are these funny creatures.  They have a mind of their own.  You know that free will God gives us?  Sometimes it's so annoying that it's there at birth....wouldn't it be more reasonable if it kicked in after potty training? 

SP was never the constant contented nurser that LB was and I struggled a lot more with my milk supply.  No matter how often I nursed, I just couldn't produce enough milk to have anything "left over".  SP is a voracious eater and was hard to content.  We started introducing food early, around 5 months, with rice cereal and she mellowed out a lot.  By 8 months, she was eating more than the 18 m/o.  My sister-in-law calls her the "little truck driver".....although she can eat enough that the comparison might offend some truck drivers. 

I didn't think my little eater would give up on any form of food.  Until the week before she turned 10 months.  She had a couple days where she bit me a lot.  My response to biting is pretty mild....I gasp a little and try to keep nursing. However, I may have been given the world's most sensitive children, because both the girls have BAWLED at my gasps.  After a couple days of hard teething and biting me during nursing, SP would simply cry every time I tried to get her to nurse.  We thought maybe it was a phase we could outlast.......in addition to sensitive, I might also have the most stubborn children (although I could probably find something on YouTube to prove me wrong on both counts, I'm sure).

SP refused to nurse.  Multiple attempts, multiple times a day for two weeks resulted in nothing but tears.  However, she would happily chug a bottle of formula, juice or breastmilk, didn't seem to matter to her.  I pumped for two excruciating weeks.  I'm not one of those women who can keep a milk supply going by pumping, so I started drying up pretty fast.

In an effort to avoid this, I turned to supplements.  I found a recipe for lactation cookies.  Since my oldest has a peanut allergy, I don't cook with peanuts, so I substituted the peanut butter for chocolate nutella spread, added raisins and applesauce instead of butter/oil.  This helped to sustain my milk supply longer than I think it would have gone otherwise, but SP still refused to nurse.

Lactation cookies - made as bar cookies, because I simply do not have the patience for rolling cookies.
I had an aha moment when I started to really evaluate my reasons for pumping and trying to force the nursing to last longer when I was talking to a friend.  She mentioned that with a tendency towards PCOS symptoms, it really is just harder to make milk.  This got the wheels churning in my head and it made me start thinking about my motives.  When I thought about how long I would keep trying, the thought kept occurring to me that part of my motivation was so that I could be that super-mom that was so hard-core she was able to keep a milk supply going through ALL odds a crazy long time. 

In other words, pride.  I was torturing myself and SP about trying to go back to nursing out of pride.  I know that breastmilk is best, obviously, but when I really examined my motives, I wasn't concerned for her health.  She got 10 months of high-quality milk and SB survived just fine on a year of formula, as have countless other babies for whom breastmilk was not an option for a variety of reasons.  I knew that with her willingness to take a bottle, formula wasn't my preferred situation, but she would still be a thriving little girl.

I had to step off the crazy train and stop the madness.  After a talk with my husband, I stopped pumping and bought SP some formula (I forgot how expensive that stuff is!)  We have about 6 more weeks until her first birthday when we'll be switching to milk and a big chunk of me still laments not being able to get her straight from breastmilk to all table food.  But, for me, nursing is difficult on my health.  I can't diet AT ALL or my milk will dry up.  Exercise is required constantly to maintain my weight and nursing makes my body cling to every calorie I eat, rather than shed weight like I just won the weight-lottery.  So, except for the first few weeks, I don't lose any weight when I'm nursing. 

I still weigh about 9 lbs more than pre-pregnancy (and about 50lbs more above my goal weight), so SP's refusal to nurse was really an early gift.  I miss the nursing, I miss that baby snuggle time, but it is a gift that I now have the time to focus on my health....and hopefully prepare my body for the next baby.  Hubby - don't read the parentheses - (also, not nursing is starting to give me the energy and desire for another baby) I'll know from the thump on the floor when you pass out that you read the parentheses anyway...

So for now, I'm trying to work out lots, limit my calorie intake and get projects done around the house.  Ripping out the kitchen floor would count as working out, right? 

In the last week since I've stopped pumping, I've lost about 4 lbs (I lost a couple in the two weeks I was pumping as well).  I definitely have the "mummy tummy" still, but there's nothing like a difficult break-up to make you lose weight!

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