Thursday, May 22, 2014

Snapshot: Nursing 14 Months Later

The first days, weeks and even months of nursing your baby can be so difficult, and that may even be an understatement.  The questions never seem to end: Is my baby latching right? Is my baby getting enough milk? Not enough milk? Did my milk come in? My boobs/nipples hurt so badly- why? Is my baby gaining enough weight? Is my baby eating enough? Should I supplement?  How much should I pump before I go back to work?  And on and on....

Needless to say, this is a stressful time for new moms.  I can say, however, that once you make it to baby #2, this time is significantly less stressful and less overwhelming.  Most of the questions have been answered before.  There may be new issues, however, you now have the confidence to deal with those and move forward.

A plateau of sorts is then reached in your nursing relationship with your baby.  In my experience, this happens around 3-4 months.  Everyone knows what they are doing and how to do it.  You go back to work and figure out how to navigate the working-pumping life.  You introduce solid foods and baby adjusts their nursing needs accordingly. And life goes on, a routine develops, and life becomes normal-ish. 

Fast forward to today. We have made it to 14 months and 15 days of nursing.  I am extremely proud of this for a few reasons.  With my first child, CJ, my milk supply suffered a drastic decline around 7 months and I had to supplement with formula until he self-weaned at 13 months and 7 days.  I have always felt guilty (and yes, I know I shouldn't) that I was not able to exclusively provide breast milk.  With my second child, EM, I also had a decline in my supply around 8 months but was able to recover enough to not need to supplement.  And I have secretly (I guess not anymore!) relished in the fact that EM has never had a drop of formula.  Its probably one of my proudest accomplishments, second to my natural child birth.

So, what does nursing a 14 month old look like?  We nurse when she wakes in the morning for about 5 minutes total.  Since I am currently unemployed, we then nurse after her nap for about 5 minutes.  Some days she does not want this after nap so we skip right to snack time instead. And finally, we nurse for about 5 minutes at bedtime.  That's it.  Its been this way for about 3 months now. It's pretty easy and requires hardly any time at all which totally works for me.  Because of my current (un)employment situation, I have seen no reason to change this as long as its what she wants.  I offer and if she wants it - great - and if she refuses - that's fine too.   

I do see signs here and there of her starting the process to self-wean and I am completely at peace with this.  While I realize that the opinions can vary far and wide on this subject, I have always been of the mindset that when my babies are ready to stop, then I will stop, as long as they are making that decision.  I have a hard time with making that decision for them. When will this end?  I don't know.  But for today, I am feeling good about where we are.
If she could talk, she would say, "more milky!"

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