Posts Tagged ‘nursing’

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Weaning

June 20, 2013

I am heading to a conference across the country in about 10 days. I am looking forward to it – I’m not extroverted, but I enjoy the chance to pretend I am sometimes, to talk up my workplace, to learn from others’ ideas and passion and persistence. I get to see some of my best friends from college and hang out and sip grown-up drinks. I am doing committee work I really like, and will be able to meet other librarians I know and smile, and tell them that I’m tenured as of July 1. Which is so much better than having to hustle for job opportunities!

I have new clothes. I will be getting my hair cut and possibly colored, and I’m hoping to sneak in a pedicure (I always say I’ll do this and I never do). I am putting together my conference schedule and my folder of receipts and documents to take with me.

And I am weaning Dot.

It occurs to me that my conference prep is not like other people’s conference prep.

She is three years old now, my Dot, and I know that one of the reasons I’ve nursed her so long is that I never got to nurse her brother at all. When she was tiny, I needed her with me, all the time, especially when she was sleeping. I was terrified that she’d die in her sleep, and I would wake up in the night, put my hand on her belly and send thank yous out into the darkness, over and over. She breathed.

I’ve calmed down a bit – I let her run across the grass at the parks, let her climb the highest and scariest slides and zip down like the daredevil she is. I take a certain pride in the fact that my efforts to keep my fear from making her afraid seem to have been effective. My girl runs and climbs and plays in the mud, and has a fine collection of three-year-old’s scrapes and bruises (mostly on her shins). We don’t care about getting her clothes dirty, or her hair messed up. She plays with a whole heart and I watch her with my own heart throbbing in my mouth, trying to make peace with letting her run free.

But, at night and in the early mornings, for the past three years, she has been all mine to snuggle and guard and hold and keep. At night, her tired, warm little body nestles, her mouth seeks, and after some restless wiggling she relaxes. In the morning, nursing is what eases the way between sleep and waking, the way we welcome each other into the day.

That’s the poetic aspect, anyway, the part I love. There’s a lot of twiddling and pulling and shuffling, sometimes some teeth and some grabbing. I have to wear padded bras or I will embarrass everyone in my workplace with not just headlights, but high beams. And I inevitably fall asleep just minutes after Dot does, meaning that I’m stumbling to the bathroom to remove contact lenses and wash my face at 2:30. I’ve been ready to stop nursing for a while now.

This week, we stopped nursing in the morning. She knows that her milky is going away, that for right now it’s going away in the mornings but that soon it will be going away all together. So far, it has gone something like this:

  • The first day she woke up very early, cried and cried, went back to sleep, slept in late (and we let her), cried a little  more. Then we indulged in breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks before school. Her teachers, who know what’s going on, reported that she had a really good day at school.
  • The second day, she woke up at the usual time, cried and cried and cried, got up for a while and snuggled with my on the futon. Then she told me she was sleepy and wanted to go back to bed. I completely fell for this, and took her back to bed, where she tried very hard to convince me it was nighttime instead of morning. And then she cried and cried. Apparently she had kind of a rough day at school.
  • Yesterday, She woke up at the usual time, cried and cried, and then reluctantly got ready for school, but we did head (again) to Starbucks for breakfast at her request. I hope she hasn’t figured out that there’s not much she can’t ask for just now. She had another rough day at school.
  • And then, this morning – she woke up, asked for milky, and then when I told her we weren’t having milky in the mornings, she got very quiet. She asked me some questions about growing up and we talked about some of the things she can do when she is older and bigger. I told her a story. I sang her a song. I said, “You are my darling baby.””Well,” she said, “sort of.”

Oh, Love.

I hope the trajectory holds true, that it really is getting easier for her, that when I scoop her up this afternoon, I’ll hear that she had a great day. I hope that when I leave for this work trip, it will put N in a better, easier place. I think it’s very likely that these things will happen, thank goodness. But it’s harder for me than I thought it would be, to let go of this part of her babyhood and this part of my mothering. Maybe in a month or so it will start to feel like the relief I was expecting it would be, but for now I have to resist the urge to hug her tight and damn the sore nipples and slow the growing up as long as I can.

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Sleep-deprived query

January 7, 2011

I’ve just spent way too much time online confirming what I already know. No matter what anyone tells you, there’s no magical and quick way to get your baby to go to sleep easily and when you want her to.

Dot is currently in transition – new room at daycare, new baby friends, new teachers. Also we’re coming out of our relaxed holiday break schedule into a time when it’s actually important I show up to work on time. These changes may account for a lot. I’m trying to be patient.

But after three nights of having my nipples gnawed on* for actual hours by my wee little darling, I feel compelled to ask –

Do I give up on nursing her down after, say, one hour of trying and failing, and just let her run around until she wants to sleep? Or is consistency important enough that I should lie back, think of England (okay, I’m not British, but you know) and let her go at it until she conks out?

My brain says, “Consistency is good.”

My boobs just say, “Ow. Ow. Make it stop.”

Also, if you could please lie to me and tell me that none of this means I’ll never have sex again, I would appreciate it.

And yes, it is a bit strange that I can’t swear convincingly but am somehow perfectly able to discuss my nipples in public.

 

*She’s not actually biting, but she does have four new teeth and while I thought my nipples were Teflon-coated at this point in my life it turns out that, after 45 minutes of consistent nursing per side, they’re not.

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Milk teeth

December 2, 2010

The day after Thanksgiving, Dot put a plastic toy in her mouth and I heard a soft but distinctive click. She has a tooth. I have named it Bitey and am hoping that the name turns out to be an antonym for what is really a very gentle and mild little milk tooth.

She is now ten months old and we’d become big fans of baby orajel two days before, so the appearance of a tooth or two shouldn’t be that surprising.  She is growing up.  She is getting teeth.  This is what babies are supposed to do.

This is what babies are supposed to do, but my first didn’t do these things.  He’ll never grow up.  He’ll never cut his teeth on plastic toys and messy (but apparently delicious) teething biscuits.  So it still comes as a shock sometimes, the inescapable fact that my daughter is beginning to move from infancy to toddlerhood.  I want to tell her to slow down.  I want to tell time to slow down.  I want to tell her, “Grow, grow!”  I want to see who she becomes, this funny, busy, shrieking pterodactyl baby of mine.

This week I started the process of weaning.  It’s going to be a long process, partly because I’m emotionally attached to nursing her and partly because she turns her little nose up at formula.  Right now the care center is starting to mixing some formula in with her breast milk.  In a few weeks I plan on cutting out one of my two daily pumping sessions, which I’m looking forward to in spite of the fact that I know it’s the beginning of the end.  Because, seriously? I think my breast pump is named Gertrude.  I see her as a strict disciplinarian of the German school who would whack my knuckles with a ruler if she could.  “You must pump!” Whack! “Pump or your baby will starve!” Whack! “Why aren’t you pumping more milk?” Whack!  Whack!  Whack!

I realize, of course I do, that I’m projecting a lot of my own feelings about pumping onto poor Gertrude who has, after all, been a great help to me and to Dot.  The pressure to hook myself up twice a day, the guilt if I miss a session, the worry if I don’t produce enough ounces, the inconvenience of having to schedule my workday around events my coworkers would really rather not know about – these things have probably changed my relationship with breastfeeding for the worse.  I’m grateful I can do it, that I have the means and opportunity and skilz (I think pumping while answering email or ordering books constitutes skilz).  I know lots of moms who’d like to nurse their babies can’t.  I know what it’s like to have milk and no baby to nurse.

So I’m desperately grateful that I have someone to do it for, that my daughter is here and beautifully alive and vigorous and hungry.  But that gratitude feels like a burden sometimes.  How dare I stop?  No, seriously.  That’s an honest question.  How dare I?

I dare because it feels like it’s time.  I dare because my baby is now sprouting teeth and thinking of walking.  She’s happy and healthy and well-nourished, and I feel like it will make me a better mother and happier person to divest myself of pumping-related stress. I’d like to think that these reasons are good and that I won’t feel guilty, but I know that won’t happen.

A couple of my coworkers were joking today about how Dot is “definitely a first child,” and it made me rock back in my chair and hold my breath.  She’s not my first.  I hate it when people erase Teddy that way.  But they’re not entirely wrong; she’s my first living.  She’s the first I get to see grow, the first I can feed, the first I can nurture, the first I can warp for life.  I hope this is the right decision, and it feels like the right decision, but this parenting a living baby is new to me, and it might not be.

Wish me (and Dot and Bitey) luck.