When you were a little girl did you imagine the kind of mama you would be? I did. I have to admit I do not remember all of my musings, but I do a few… I thought I would be one of those mamas that would take my maternity leave and then be thrilled to leave my kids at daycare while I went to work. Wrong. I hate leaving my kids and we are praying about how we can change things…but that is not for this post.
Back to the type of mama I thought I would be. I remember one time I was dressing my baby doll, I was probably 7 or 8, and I put her on her head to get her pants on. My mom saw it and told me “you can’t do that with a real baby.” Well, I have found she was kind of right and kind of wrong. You don’t put them directly on their head, but they start moving a lot earlier than you expect, so you have to dress them while they put themselves all over, sometimes I think they will end up on their head.
What I did not ever consider was whether I would nurse my babies or give them formula bottles. I was not nursed and only those “natural people” we knew did any of that. You know what I mean? The ones who used honey instead of sugar, had healthy tasting snacks. Those people.
Fast forward many years. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 15. You can not control most risk factors for MS, it is most prevelant in women, in climates like Michigan, in Middle Class families, etc. It is wierd. But there is at least some research that at one point said those who were breastfed as babies were less likely to develop MS. So I decided since I could not control many of the other risk factors, that I would “at least” nurse my children.
Fast forward more years. I went into remission from the MS and my husband and I decided we would like to start a family. And our first daughter was born. The first 2 weeks of nursing were hard, really hard. And then we got into our groove and it was great!
Caitlyn was exclusively nursed or given pumped milk until 9 months old. My milk then dropped significantly due to my bonus pregnancy with Sue, so we supplemented. Man I hated it. I cried. I felt so bad that Caitlyn was not getting to nurse as much as I had planned. But she was happy to nurse part-time until 11 months old, when she weaned on her own. At the time I thought I had failed her, but later learned it is normal for nurslings to wean when mama is about 18-20 weeks pregnant as the milk changes taste.
So fast forward 20 weeks and 3 days…and Sue arrived. I really thought since I had just weaned a baby that nursing this time would be like old hat. But I felt again like all thumbs; like I had never done this before. It caused some stress. Okay, I’ll be honest, I felt like freaking out. Thankfully the lactation consultant and my midwife calmed me down. They assured me it was normal, that I was not the only learner here…nursing is natural for babies, but there is still a learning curve.
Then the next two weeks were hard again. I kept saying to my hubby, it gets better right? And he said over and over, yes, in about two weeks. And you know, it did.
And this time I pumped milk like a crazy woman. I wanted to make sure I had plenty and I did. Sue did not have cows milk regularly until 20 months old. Now, I have nothing against cows milk, but I had the stash and my Sue is very small for her age. She thinks gaining weight is optional. She can out eat her sister and still sits around the 3rd percentile for weight. Breastmilk is great for just such a child as ounce for ounce it has the most perfect caloric load for a little one. The milk can be used completely by the body, everything it takes in can be used, rather than taking in fillers that are eliminated.
Now fast forward to 27 months old. My Sue still loves nursing. Does she get much nutritionally, no. It is a comfort thing for her. She is an incredibly confident, confident child, but a couple times a day she likes her mama minute. When I first found out baby number 3 was coming, I was incredibly sick for several weeks. I wanted to wean Sue soooooo bad. But she would have none of it. She would cry so pitifully. The only way to deal with it was to put her in her room, and it just seems wrong to “punish” a child for wanting to nurse, so we made it through mama being sick with the baby and now we are back to nursing some days, other days she gets too busy, and that’s okay.
I am again just about 18 weeks along. It will be interesting to see what happens with Sue. Will she wean like sissy did? Is she even getting enough milk to realize the change in flavor, I doubt it. So I don’t know how we will proceed. I really don’t. But I know that right now my heart is not ready to force her to wean. I have held a strong belief in child led weaning since I was pregnant with Caitlyn. And that has not changed…so it is as much a “dilemna” for mama as it is Sue. And I am very glad there is nothing really forcing me to make any decision at this moment. So I continue to think about it, weigh my options and pray. We’ll see.
Please feel free to ask questions about nursing, pumping, etc. I love to help mamas with nursing, whether it is a challenge they are facing or trying to decide what is best for them. I love it.
And just so you don’t forget what my cuties look like, here they are: