Hello small boobs: The end of my Nursing story

I nursed J until he was 14 months. I was also 5 months pregnant at the time.  (which is another story all together).  With him, I was ready to be done, and so was he.  It was uncomfortable, and just plain annoying when he would “nurse”.  There wasn’t really any benefit either of us were getting out of it at the end.  And when he slept through the night the first night I stopped nursing him, it was like divine intervention.  It was time, and probably had been for a while.

When C was born, I realized that nursing is hard even the second time around.  I didn’t have issues with my production, but a newborn is still a newborn.  They have to learn how to nurse, just like your boobs have to adjust to having a little one attached to them almost 24/7 for a while.  It’s an adjustment all around.  Even when you know how it’s supposed to work, it doesn’t make it any easier for the first few weeks.  It still hurt like hell for the first 2 weeks.

I planned on nursing C until, well I didn’t really have a length of time.  I figured it would be similar to what happen with J and that the right time would be obvious.  Turns out, it was only obvious to her!  The day after her 1st birthday, C came down with a cold.  The night she refused to nurse.  The next morning she also refused.  And at naptime, it was a no-go.  I figured it had something to do with her feeling not so great.  In the meantime I had to break out my pump.  While she wasn’t nursing a ton, she was nursing enough that my boob’s went back to feeling like they were going to explode by the morning time.  Did I mention I hate pumping?  I thought I was done with that!

After 48 hours of no nursing, I was really starting to doubt that C was ever going to go back to nursing.  I kept up the pumping 1-2 times a day though, just in case.  One morning I got her to suck down 3 oz of pumped milk from a bottle…but that must have been a total fluke.  That was the last time she ever drank the magic milk.

The next day, I got a nasty virus that landed me with a 104 degree temp and in the ER for dehydration.  Turns out C being ready to stop nursing was right for both of us.  She moved onto drinking regular milk with no hitch, and I was able to take some much needed meds to get over the virus.

The sudden and unexpected, cold-turkey stop to it all left me a little sad though.  I wasn’t ready to stop nursing.  Not in the same was I was with J.  But, in the end, it all worked out.  Just goes to show that no one’s journey with breastfeeding is the same.  Every kiddo is different, and everyone’s struggles with breastfeeding – whether at the beginning, middle, or end – is relevant.

And now?  I’m remembering how little my boobs are when I’m not pregnant or nursing! Ha…

 

Breastfeeding 101 – How it really works

When I was preggers with J, I took the class Breastfeeding 101; where they teach you how to breastfeed using a stuffed boob and a plastic baby doll.  (Like somehow that actually relates.)  They also show you lots of pictures of other women with their little one perfectly suckled onto their full bosom. This class makes it look so easy.  What they don’t show you is the cracked and bleeding nipples, the bloody pink milk, and the sheer number of random strangers who will be privy to your used-to-be-private parts. Needless to say the class didn’t do much other than show us a bunch of pictures of boobies and babies.  It doesn’t matter how many times you practice the correct latch with that plastic baby or stuffed boob – it ain’t gonna translate.  So, here’s some things that breastfeeding class should teach you instead:

Lesson #1: Full Exposure
With the number of random boobies you will see in a breastfeeding class, it should be your first hint at how many total strangers will see, grab, and massage your boobs the moment that your little one makes their appearance from your other previously private area.  Especially if this is your first baby, get used to the idea that you will have nurses, lactation consultants, doctors, your husband, and probably even your mother “helping” you to get that baby latched correctly.  And by helping, I mean invading your personal boob bubble.  Don’t worry, you will be so focused on your new little miracle that you won’t even notice how many people have now seen your ta ta’s.

Lesson #2: Full Time Job
I hope you didn’t plan on leaving the house, showering, or ever leaving the couch for the first few weeks.  While it’s really awesome to spend all that time with your new little snuggle bunny, you will soon learn that breastfeeding is a full-time job in itself.  Those little piggies want to be fed (what seems like) constantly.  Yes, they sleep and poop too, but I swear the “eat” part of the equation accounts for at least 75% of their daily routine.

Lesson #3: Get Out
Once you get past the first few weeks, you’ll eventually fall into more of a routine.  You’ll hopefully have the latch part down, and you won’t feel like your nipples are about to fall off anymore.  Now it’s time to finally venture out of the house.  Since you haven’t left your couch for the last 14 days, you’ll be desperate to see the outside world.  But seeing as how you’ve gotten used to your routine of feeding your little one in the comfort of your own home, now you’ll face the whole new challenge of learning to feed in public places.  Consider this, one of the best things about breastfeeding is that it’s mobile…

Lesson #4: Let down your guard
The first few months of breastfeeding in public you’ll insist on using one of those cover-up’s specially designed for this very thing.  Let me just say, as soon as your little one learns to grab with those 10 tiny perfect fingers, say goodbye to your beloved cover.  Sorry to break it to you, but no baby wants to be hidden behind a sheet when the world is happening on the other side.  And while you’ll fight (without much success) to keep your boobs hidden under this protective shield of fabric, in the end you might win a battle or two, but your baby will win the war.

Lesson #5: Quick Latch
Once you’ve accepted the inevitable – that your child refuses to be covered for their required regular boob-fix – you will slowly let go of the comfort of your cover. Instead you’ll figure out how to unleash your boob and get your kiddo latched in 3 seconds flat, thus avoiding a prolonged boob exposure to the gawking eyes of any man or judging woman within a 50 foot radius.  This comes down to practice makes perfect.

Lesson #6: The Gawker or Judge
You’ll discover that while your child’s head actually blocks the majority of the exposed boob, any onlooker who really wants to get a peek will do their darndest, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.  Cover or no cover, if there is boob present, you’ll have someone trying to sneak a peek.  There’s also the random onlooker who decides it is their business to judge you for daring to feed your child in a public space *gasp*. Give both of these types a sweet smile as if they don’t bother you in the least and let your little one take their sweet time finishing their meal.

Lesson #7: That’s Right
It is your right to breastfeed – anywhere, anytime.  Do it proudly, Mama’s.

Lesson #8: Multi-tasking
After a few months you will have the latch down to an art and you’ll be ready to take on the world.  OK, maybe not the world, but you will become semi ambidextrous as you’ll have to learn to type, write, stir, or use the remote with whichever hand is free at the moment. Baby may be eating, but life and productivity must go on…

Lesson #9: Not all it’s cracked up to be
At times you’ll feel like your entire day is consumed with feeding or pumping.  All the privacy and mystery of your boobs and nipples has gone out the window.  Your nipples have doubled in size, and while your boobs have also grown, they will eventually shrink back to their pre-pregnancy size (sorry men).

Lesson #10: Savor the Moment
Like all things little and lovely, time passes too quickly and your little one will be done breastfeeding before you know it.  You’ll blink an eye and suddenly those days are long past.  So as cliché as it is, savor the moments when your sweet baby is nuzzled up against your chest. There will come a time when you miss it terribly, if even only for a moment.

To wean or not to wean

As J approaches a year old, I have been asked by many people when I plan to wean him from breastfeeding.  I’ve also asked myself this question.  When I was pregnant I knew that I would breastfeed for at least a year, but haven’t given it much thought after that original decision.

I wholeheartedly agree with and believe the vast benefits that breastfeeding has for infants.  J has never had any illness other than a slightly runny nose, never had an ear infection or any other health issues and I am sure this is in large part due to breastfeeding.  I know that breastfeeding for some mama’s is extremely challenging either by lack of time or milk production levels, and I feel very blessed that I have not had to endure this struggle for the last 10+ months.  Which is part of my hesitancy to decide when to wean J.

I don’t feel like I “need” or “have” to wean him.  But I also realize that with planning to expand our family soon, I’m not sure how the logistics will work if I were to continue to breastfeed J while pregnant or beyond.  It wasn’t until recently that I was educated on the fact that some mama’s can continue to breastfeed both their young children along with their infants in what they call “tandem breastfeeding”.  I had no idea that was even a possibility.  But I’m also not sure that I could do that or would want to do that with my kiddos.  Partly because when your little one is really little, for the first 3-4 months, I felt like all I did was breastfeed.  My boob was out of my shirt and attached to J more often than not during those first few months.  A blessing, yes…but extremely exhausting at the same time.  The idea of feeding two kiddos simultaneously is kind of nerve wrecking for me.

With cows milk being introduced at around a year old, I feel like maybe that will aid in the weaning process too.  Although I know there are plenty of ideas and opinions out there about the ill effects of cows milk on infants too…so I’m not using this as my only reasoning behind deciding to wean or not to wean.

So when then?  At this point I plan to just see what happens.  Maybe J will decide that he’s not that interested anymore….although I don’t see any sign of that yet.  And until he starts sleeping through the night I doubt that this will happen on his own accord.  Or maybe when baby #2 is on the way and I’m too big around to nurse J comfortably that’ll be when I really push the weaning.  Although I haven’t the slightest idea of how to go about that either.

Until then I’ll take full advantage of the snuggle time I have with my little guy, as we all know those days get fewer and further between as the grow into big boys 🙂

baby snuggle

(J at about 2 months)

Peek-a-Boob

What is it about people (mainly men) and peeking when a woman is breastfeeding?  There is an entire industry built on helping a woman keep covered up while we breastfeed.  I get that while in public there is only so much that you can do to keep yourself covered, and even if you are covered it’s pretty obvious that you have your boob out underneath that pretty designed cover-up.  There’s also a whole social movement now days about a woman’s right to breastfeed in public (without a cover).  And I must say that during the early days of learning how to feed J in public my boobs were probably the subject of a lot of gawking.  Let’s face it, anyone who has breastfed a crying and wiggling munchkin in public has probably flashed more than their fair share of strangers.  I’m sure I have.

Early on in the adventures of breastfeeding when the little ones need to eat every hour or two, making it feel like you constantly have you boob out for the world to at least partial see (or imagine), you get used to people staring (or pretending not to stare) and I was so preoccupied trying to get J to actually latch on that I didn’t care who saw whatever they saw.  But now that J eats only a few times during the day there’s much less chance that I’ll need to breastfeed him when I’m not at home or at work.

At the office I have a door that closes as well as curtains on my window and blinds on my door as well.  So when J is feeding, I turn off my lights and close my door etc.  Apparently that is not enough to deter my co-workers or clients from thinking that I’m doing something worth peeking at.  Even with the knowledge that I have a small child who is either sleeping or eating when my lights are off and my door is closed, the men I work with can not resist the urge to peer through my window.  It’s like I’m a fish in a tank.  Even if I close the curtain to my window, it’s almost instinctual for them to try and catch a glance at what’s going on in the dark room.  Or as my hubby puts it – “men will try and see boob no matter what.” Oy.

So we came up with this:

Image

 

“Door closed? Lights off? Then Lauren is UNAVAILABLE.  Please do not peek in the window.  Please do not tap, wave, knock, whistle or scratch at the door.”

Guess we’ll see if it works! Silly men…