A Wilder Side of Breastfeeding

This week is National Breastfeeding Week.  Or something like that.  And I just thought I’d chime in with my small experience.

I’ve been nursing Theo for almost a year now.  I am neither proud nor not proud of that fact, but I am grateful and glad, because it’s saved us money, and been a lot more convenient (usually).  But about that special bond we’re supposed to have…

We don’t, really.

This week, you’ll probably see lots of photos of mothers tenderly looking down at tiny infants who are gazing back with buckets full of love.  That’s not exactly how it went for us.   For about the first month, I would wince, and sometimes almost writhe while breastfeeding.  It was painful.  In an effort to improve his latch, I watched youtube videos on breastfeeding.  The women would gently settle their baby on the pillow, pull out their breast, and bring the baby (who was lying peacefully with her mouth open, ready and waiting) to her nipple, and the baby would eat.

Now, I don’t know if their babies were exceptional, or if mine was, but Theo did not lie still, all ready to receive his mother’s bounty.  He kicked and flailed his arms about, and although his mouth was open wide, it was shaking from side to side so quickly that I kept missing, and trying to latch him on by his ear instead of his mouth.

What ended up helping was getting all set up with my pillows, taking the baby, and immediately pulling one of his arms under mine and pinning it to my side to keep him in place as the other arm sort of pinned his legs down so he wasn’t as wiggly, and I could maybe get him latched on.  And when he did look up at me, it looked more like he was giving me a suspicious side-eye than gazing lovingly at me.

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It definitely got easier, and nursing went smoothly until about 7 or 8 months when he 1) got stronger and 2) started self-weaning.  Andreas’s mom said that Andreas stopped nursing at 6 months, and I could tell that Theo was losing interest.  Theo is not a cuddler.  He had places to go and things to see, and he couldn’t do any of that while nursing (though, let me tell you, he tried…ouch.).  After a couple of weeks of struggling and fighting to get him to nurse, I dropped a few feedings, and started giving more solid foods (with the doctor’s encouragement).  We also cut out night feedings around this time, and Theo, with the extra real food in his belly, and no more waking out of habit at night- SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT! Wahoo!

Now he’s down to nursing only in the morning and evening, which is incredibly freeing for me.  Not only am I happy about not having to wear nursing-friendly clothes all the time, and not having to worry about needing to be there for him at certain points throughout the day (Papa can do it, now!), but I am really happy that the wrestling sessions are reduced to twice daily.

The morning nursing is best, when he’s hungry and thirsty, and happy to see me.  But nighttime is still a struggle, and I have a feeling he’ll drop that before he’ll drop morning nursing.  He rolls away from me approximately ever 5 seconds, sits up, and crawls back,nurses for a few more seconds, rolls away, repeat.  It’s kind of exhausting.

I’m very thankful that I was able to breastfeed, and I’m not planning on stopping at any given point, but I’m happy that it’s only twice a day, and I don’t think I’ll be sad when it’s over.  I fed my baby, but for us, it wasn’t anything more than that.  And that’s okay.

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