Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Milking It!

There was not a lot with either of my pregnancies that went easily. From the time I conceived my daughter I was in pain. I had a small fibroid that was fighting for the blood supply from the fetus. It was an agonizing battle but after a month of nights doubled over uncertain if the pregnancy would actually stick, the fetus won and the pain went away. A week after that I began my Hyperemesis Gravedarum causing nausea and vomiting until week 16. At week 13 I had lost so much weight I went on a medication in hopes that it would stop the vomiting and help me gain weight. Instead it caused me to have jaw lock for a whole day. By then I was both dehydrated and exhausted. I definitely did not have the natural glow some women speak of during pregnancy. In fact I felt quite beaten up by the whole thing.

When I was pregnant with my son I knew what to expect so I didn't touch medication and I had an IV drip twice a week to prevent dehydration. I didn't have the fibroid problem, or have hours of jaw lock but I spent day after day throwing up. Each morning it felt like groundhog day and that time was not on my side. I developed much empathy for those who live with chronic illness or constant pain. Nothing in your life feels the same as it once did when you are distracted my the intensity of discomfort. I spent as many hours as I could upright with my then three year old daughter, and I took as much help as I could from friends and family. It was a difficult time for all of us, but I knew eventually it would end. Unlike truly ill people my suffering would hopefully result in something beautiful. With that hope I tried to keep my eye on the prize and stay as patient as I could.

I wouldn't say labor or birth was easy either time but they were relatively uncomplicated. Both babies took a while to get with the coming out part so I was late and labored long both times. It was challenging but manageable and I was able to have both births without pain medication. I wanted to avoid anymore medication complications since I seemed to be in the small percentage of people affected by all the warnings in the small print. I also wanted to try it naturally. It was not easy but I gave birth to two healthy children both of whom latched on to nurse straight away.  I am aware how difficult nursing can be in the beginning for so many new mothers, and I am sensitive to the feelings of wanting to breastfeed and not being able to, and how hard that must be. I did finally have one thing go easily and I was grateful, I was relieved, and I was in love.

Nursing was such a special gift of closeness between me and my babies. I loved how it was a built in quiet time several times in an otherwise hectic time of adjusting. It was amazing to me how my body was able to produce nourishment for this infant. I marveled at how calming it was for both of us during feeding times. I felt the oxytocin and it indeed gave me a wonderful blissful love for my babies. I was a big advocate for nursing and had no shame where I nursed. I didn't have the biggest boobs so I felt covered my my baby when nursing in public. I never had a fabric shade because I didn't want to hide my baby under it. I was proud and if anyone stared I stared back.

I nursed my daughter until she was two. I didn't plan on going that long in the beginning but as one approached I knew neither of us were ready to be done yet. When she was eighteen months I began to wean her. One feeding at a time and over the course of a few months she was weaned. My horomones post weaning went crazy and similarly to pregnancy I had a rare reaction. It took me a while to learn but I know now that my body is extremely sensitive to hormonal shirts. I should start praying now for what I will have to endure during menopause.

When my son turned two I began the same weaning process. More carefully this time and again with the knowledge that it might be challenging for me hormonally. I tried to drop a feeding and he was so resistant. I tried to change the times of when we nursed around but he was too stuck to his routine. I let it go to revisit a few months later. At that point I nursed him three times a day and no matter how many ways I tried I was unsuccessful at dropping one. We also kept moving then. Four moves in a year and a half so all the changes were excuses to keep something the same for him. Suddenly it seemed he was two and half. I was then ready to push for one less feeding and eventually got down to a single one before bed. He treasured that time though and no pun intended but he milked it. He would drag it out so long to the point that I was more than ready to end it. I was stuck for a while on how but with his third birthday coming I knew it was time.

My husband and I went away for a weekend. A necessary first for both of us, but a hard first for my kids. My son surprised us though. I prepped him and explained that he will be three when we get back and that he won't need to nurse anymore. I pointed out babies nursing and explained how they needed it but big boys got to eat real food and even candy. He was staying with my sister in law and nephews and when we called in to say hello he would say "I'm not sad, I a big boy." When we came home that Sunday he told us that he was a big boy and that he doesn't nurse. We were impressed but when we got home that night he went right to the chair to nurse and begged. It was so hard for both of us that night to accept that things change and that babies grow up. He pleaded, and determined to stay strong I explained that he was big now. He cried and said that he wasn't three yet and that his birthday wasn't yet so he was still two and half. So young and already so good at arguing. We made it through that night without nursing, and we haven't since. He is officially weaned. We both are doing very well. He still asks for it, but knows its over. I hold him and cuddle a lot now. We are both going to need a bit more time accepting babyhood is over. In the end I am proud I nursed as long as I did. As this chapter of my life comes to a close I will remember the start of motherhood sweetly and hope that if new mothers after me want to and are able to nurse I hope it will offer them the same joy.

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