Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nursing Strike

This post is about breastfeeding. If that's not your thing or if you happen to be a guy who reads this, you might not care to read this post :)

So, nursing. Alaina is coming up on 10 months old, and she's been a great nurser from the get-go. No issues. Plus, she's my third child to nurse. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm a nursing expert (really, I don't think I would ever call myself at expert at anything -- haha), but I know what I'm doing. Nursing my third child to a year old shouldn't be an issue.

My plan with Alaina was to nurse her full-time for a year. At that point, I would gradually wean her. While extended breastfeeding isn't something I really see myself doing, I wasn't going to get in any big hurry to wean her either. With Jude, I was kind of anxious to wean him right around a year because I knew we would probably be ready to get pregnant again sometime shortly after his first birthday. I wanted a couple of months to not be pregnant OR breastfeeding. Well, that didn't happen :) We got a wonderful surprise several days before Jude's first birthday when we found out that I was already pregnant. I'm so glad that the Lord's plans are not always our plans, because I wouldn't trade my little Lainey girl for anything. I don't think I ever nursed Jude again after getting that positive pregnancy test, though. He was only nursing about once a day at that point, and I was so overwhelmed with the thought of being pregnant again sooner than we had planned that I just was ready to be done nursing. By that point, he was over it too, and weaning him was extremely easy.

All that to say, my plan with Alaina was similar in that I wanted to nurse her for a year, but since we have no plans for another pregnancy anytime in the near future, I was going to take my time with weaning and just kind of follow her cues. Everything was going just as planned..... until last week.

Alaina has two teeth on the bottom, and she might be getting more. I'm not really sure. For a few weeks now, she been biting some while she was nursing. It was mostly after she had slowed down and was getting full. If I paid attention and watched her closely, I could tell when she was about to bite and just take her off before she did. If I happened to miss the sign that a bite was coming, she wasn't biting hard, so it really wasn't a big deal. Uncomfortable, but not awful. Well, sometime last week, that all changed. The occasional biting went to constant hard biting, and I never knew when it was coming. She would literally be in the middle of eating, and she would suddenly just chomp down. And then she would jerk her head back while she was still chomped down. It. was. awful. I knew she didn't understand and wasn't trying to hurt me or anything, but a few times I yelled out in pain before I could even stop myself. Plus, I was SO tense the whole time she was nursing just waiting for her to bite. After a few days of that, she just decided that she was D-O-N-E. Literally, she just quit nursing. She wouldn't latch on at all, and it actually made her really mad when I tried to get her to latch. I'm thinking that me yelling in pain a few times and being so tense must have scared her, and now she just isn't interested.

At first, I wasn't overly alarmed. Jude did something similar when he was right around Alaina's age, and I ended up giving him pumped bottles for several days, and then he went back to nursing with no trouble. I assumed Alaina would do the same, so I just started pumping and then giving her the pumped milk. She sucks that down with no issues. It made me feel slightly better to see her chewing away on the bottle too -- it's not just me. HAHA! Anyway, I try to get her to nurse every time before I pump, but she is just NOT having it. Once or twice, I have gotten her to latch on and eat for just a few seconds, but after she takes several sips, it's like she remembers that she doesn't do that anymore, and she clamps down and won't continue. It's been almost a week, and I'm starting to worry that she's really done.

Thankfully, I have a lot of breastmilk frozen, and if I continue to pump some too, making it to a year on just breastmilk shouldn't be very hard. It's just SUCH a pain to pump. I'm not excited about the prospect of doing it for weeks. Plus, it's just a pain to have to deal with bottles when that's not what you're used to and you're not really prepared. For example, we don't have a bottle warmer (and don't even THINK about offering Alaina a cold bottle -- horrors!), so we have to run the milk under hot water to heat it. No big deal, but it is time consuming. We only have a few bottles, so we're constantly having to wash bottles and then there's also all the pump equipment to wash. My pump only does one side at a time, which is great for just occasional pumping, but when you're pumping full-time, it's annoying that it takes twice as long. Wahhh, I know. I'm going to keep trying to get Alaina to nurse, but I think she's just decided that she likes the bottle, and I really don't have high hopes of her going back at this point.

After all of that complaining, I have to admit that there are a few positives to this situation too, though. I just have to look a little harder to find them ;) For one, it's just easier to be more "scheduled" when your baby takes a bottle (in my opinion). I know exactly how much she's eating each time, and taking a bottle is really only about getting her fed. And that's NOT to say that feeding her a bottle isn't a sweet, bonding time. I enjoy that special, quiet time just like I enjoyed my time nursing her. But when we were nursing, sometimes I would just nurse her for comfort or to calm her down when it wasn't actually time for her to eat. But now, I'm not about to go heat up a bottle and get everything dirty just to comfort her, so it cuts down on the "unscheduled" feedings, and I just find other ways to comfort her now. I use the word scheduled loosely because I'm not really a scheduled person, in general, bottle or not. Haha! But it's nice to just basically know exactly when she's going to be ready to eat. We were kind of getting to that point with nursing too, though, now that she was older. Anyway, another positive is that I think I'm going to start pumping less if she hasn't picked nursing back up soon. Right now, I'm basically pumping every time she eats, which is still about 4 times a day (she was nursing 5 times a day, but since she's been taking bottles, we've been able to spread the feedings out some). I think I'm going to start just pumping 3 times a day, and then as she gets closer to a year, I'll go to twice and then just quit. Which leads me to the biggest plus. If Alaina continues to just take bottles, I'll probably be done with breastfeeding sooner than I would have been if she had kept nursing. Since we have so much milk in our freezer, there's really no reason for me to pump up until her birthday. I'll just see how our freezer stash holds up with me pumping 2 or 3 times a day, and when I'm sure that we'll have enough milk to make it to the one year mark, I'll quit pumping. You would think this would make me sad, and in a very small way, it does. But mostly I'm just looking forward to the break. I've been either pregnant or breastfeeding since October of 2009 when I got pregnant with Jude. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't going to be nice to not be doing either for a while ;)

So, that's where we are on our breastfeeding roller coaster right now. By next week, this could all be obsolete, but I wanted to record my thoughts either way. What's funny is that when I started thinking back, I realized that this is about the same age that Aubrey "self-weaned" and also the same age when Jude started biting and we had a little bump in the road. I don't know what it is with my babies and that 9 or 10 month mark?? The important thing for me is that they get breastmilk for the first year, and yes, it makes my life easier if they just nurse. But if I have to pump full-time in order for them to get breastmilk, that's what I'm going to do!


The Niemeyer Nest said...

I do not think you are being whiny at all! Breast feeding is easier than bottles once you are used to it! My body never pumped well since my kids were not great at the bottle. You deserve a break after three pregnancies and nursing. Hope everything works out like you want!

Sarah Denley said...

a) This post made me a little upset. Simply because I feel SO disconnected. Like how long has it been since I've actually seen that child's sweet face (or yours)? I don't like having to read about major things like this on your blog, friend ;)

b)It's crazy you said that when you "started thinking back", because when you mentioned it in your Week in Review post I literally immediately thought "Oh my gosh. An Aubrey repeat!".

c) It's so awesome you have such a nice "stash" and can pump relatively easy (you know what I mean- I know it's a HUGE pain). I just don't think I could have ever pumped enough for either of my kids. So that's a definite benefit.

d) I had to click through to write you this novel and it reminded me about your header. Let me know if you've found anything you like background wise and we'll figure something out!

Meghan said...

What nursing bra brand do you like the most? I am pregnant and plan on nursing. I can't find any nursing bras with good reviews. I thought I would ask you since you have a lot of experience. Also, do you use the medula pump? If so do you think it's worth the money?