July 24, 2011

feeling a little tender

hey guys, this blog post is going to be about nursing!
nursing? you say. back it up, girlfriend. i'm not nursing/pregnant/a woman/interested.
but guess what? i reply.
someday you or someone you love will be.
and then you'll wish you had read this.
you're welcome.

i will be the first to tell you that nursing is not easy.
in the hospital, i tracked down every staffer possible and asked them to watch cruz nurse.
even some interns.
even perhaps the guy who brings the food.
in the hospital, cruz seemed to eat like a champ and everyone was generally pleased with his progress.

at home, i kept a stack of nursing books by my side and vastly appreciated the presence of my lactation consultant mother.
and guess what? it was still hard!
so hard that cruz went about 24 hours without eating anything. and that was before i ever noticed that we were having problems. 
yup. it's that hard.

here are a couple of things i didn't expect:
  • the pain. oh the toe-curling pain!
  • the constant need for snacks
  • the absolute frustration of not being able to feed your baby correctly
  • the nursing and poop tracking charts that the hospital sent home with us. who knew you needed to write this stuff down? 
and one more:
  • i absolutely fell in love with nursing. love it. it is unlike anything else i have ever done in my life.
cruz and i have had our share of problems in our nursing relationship, but overall i have felt strongly that most mamas and babies will be able to nurse as long as they want to with the appropriate support (casual and professional) and education. 
i have planned to nurse cruz for a long time and have felt so good about that decision.

until recently.
cruz is popping in four teeth at a time, and as babies are wont to do, he wants to bite.
bite chew chomp gnaw
while we nurse he bites me until i bleed. 
every. single. time.

remember that stack of nursing books i own?
i have tried every anti-biting suggestion.
i have called la leche league.
i have talked to many many mamas.
our lactation consultant told me i had the hardest (haha, we're still laughing, right?) case of biting she had ever seen.
our pediatrician finally asked me to take a nursing vacation for three days.
if that didn't break his biting habit, i would pump for as long as possible, and we would start formula if necessary.

there have been a lot of tears over this.
cruz has cried too.
i don't really know why i've been so emotional over the potential end of nursing.
it will end someday.
before he goes to college, right?
i've been worried about the loss of those sweet, peaceful moments.
(well, the moments when i'm not nursing while watching Real Housewives)
i've been worried that my baby son won't really be a baby anymore.
So big and independent!

ok, guys. the truth is that while things change, i won't lose the connection with my son
(at least until he's a surly teenager).
clearly mamas don't need to nurse to bond with their babies.
i'm just feeling raw and vulnerable and you can just imagine how i feel when things don't go according to my plan. 
so can i ask you for a favor?
if you had trouble nursing or bottle fed or weaned earlier than you had planned, would you mind giving me some advice about how it went for you?
or maybe just some encouragement in general that we get back in our normal groove?
were you emotional about weaning or am i just crazy?


  1. B - My sister had to wean my nephew early due to a great, unplanned, free business trip to Portugal. She was thrilled to go, but it meant weaning the baby earlier than planned (he was 9 months). She really, really disliked nursing but was committed to doing it as she thought it was best for everyone. Even though she loathed nursing, she still cried and mourned when she weaned him. She said the emotional pain was not only unexpected, but completely overwhelming. The good news? She made it and had a good nursing experience with her next child. Hang in there -- you are in my prayers :).
    PS: Your mom is a lactation consultant? I'm future-JEALOUS! But I guess we'll be okay since my dad is a pediatrician :).

  2. Chrissy, thank you so much for your sweet words of encouragement and sharing your sister's story. This is all making me feel like I have a terrible case of PMS! For example, I started crying THINKING about Harry Potter the other day. Heaven forbid what will happen when I actually watch the movie.

    I think if I had a pediatrician parent they would block my phone number because I would be calling seven times a day. :)

  3. Hi Becca-
    We have a mutual friend, Zoe, who suggested I share my nursing experience in hopes that I could be an encouragement to you! My daughter, Emily, is now just over a year old. I had intended to nurse her for a year because I knew "that was the right thing to do". I ended up loving nursing (for the most part) and after a patch around 8 months where I was dying to wean her but succumbed to my husband's request not to, I was really ready to finish the full year. Emily had other plans! We had done 0 bottles til 7 months and were able to introduce one successfully around that time. Little by little, Emily started to show interest in that little plastic replacement and by 10 1/2 months she was clearly elated when a bottle was presented and not so excited to be staring at my chest anymore. That coupled with some painful biting episodes that left her calmly but firmly corrected resulted in weaning earlier than I'd hoped. I did cry over the early transition, but I also rejoiced in the fact that God had gifted me the ability (both physically and situationally) to nourish her for 10 1/2 months. Because Emily was born a month early, it felt like an extra important need I was able to fill. Even though the AAP now recommends a full year for nursing, the research I've read clearly points to the first 6 months as the most beneficial. So congrats, mama! You've done really well!!! I was sad about missing that special bond that nursing provides. And I did miss it once it ended. But Emily has been so happy to cuddle with me as she drinks her bottle and now (as a 12 month old) she gives me hugs and kisses all day long. And those sloppy kisses are just as magical and bonding at this stage as all the nursing moments were in the beginning. We are now trying to wean from the bottle and that process is NOT going as smoothly. I guess because Emily weaned herself happily from nursing and the bottle weaning is my decision. So I totally feel you on the sadness and frustration they experience when it's not something the child is doing on their own. I hope everything gets easier for you day by day no matter what ends up happening.

  4. Libby, thank you so much for your encouragement and for sharing your experience! It is always nice to know that we're not alone in this mama thing. :) I hope the bottle weaning continues to get better for you.

  5. Thanks for the post Becca as I'll soon be in your shoes!

  6. LB, you are welcome! I can't wait to see the recipes you develop while ravenous with breastfeeding hunger. :P Also, I love that you are naming your wee one Anderson. That's our nephew's name and it's so cool.

  7. Okay, straight up LOVE your blog! So glad I stumbled upon it. :) I am nursing my sweet baby Jackson right now and had only planned on going for 3 months, but am so torn on whether to continue or not. I'm feeling very emotional and torn about it?! Aghhhh!!! We'll see what happens.

    Anyway - love your blog. :) Just added you to my blog roll so I can follow along. What a PRECIOUS baby boy you have!

  8. Thank you so much!! Breastfeeding is so emotional, right? (On top of the other bajillion hormonal things we have to deal with!) I had no idea that it would be like that. Whatever you decide, know that I'm cheering you on! You will absolutely make the best decision for you and Jackson. :D


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