For the next two months I am going to embrace nursing my 10 month old daughter. It just occurred to me that I only have 2 more months of our "special time" together. But the truth is I hate, hate, hate breastfeeding. And I have been hating it for the past 6 months.
She was a tough baby. From the minute she was born she screamed (or at least it seemed so). When she wasn't eating or sleeping she screamed. For 4 months. Screamed. As a newborn she was a voracious eater. And because I have a bigger kid I couldn't just sit around nursing her or even nurse her to sleep. Because if I ever did get her to sleep while nursing the minute I moved, wiggled, coughed etc, she woke up screaming and latched on again. Never mind that I had an active 'spirited' 3 year old who didn't understand the need to be quiet. I struggled getting her to fall asleep and stay asleep. I struggled getting her to take naps. And every.single.struggle I had I questioned the breastfeeding. Was she getting enough? Was my feeding schedule not right? When she wasn't napping I wondered if she was too tired to nurse? I pumped (while standing in the kitchen getting breakfast ready for myself and my 3 year old) and bottle fed her mid-day feeding because I worried the nursing/my supply/her tiredness was preventing her from getting enough milk to allow her to fall asleep and stay asleep. None of that worked. Eventually she just 'got' it with napping. Or maybe I did. Or maybe my supply increased. See? always blaming/wondering breastfeeding! And let's for a moment consider her intense separation anxiety (the earliest our pediatrician has ever seen), her inability/unwillingness (still) to take a bottle and the times I've been out and called home because she's inconsolable. Would she not have these intense issues that only I/nursing can soothe if she was bottle feeding?
Once I got her naps figured out she became aware do the world around her. That meant no more nursing in public because she was too curious about the world and every. single. sound she heard. That meant (and still means) we need to be home to nurse because otherwise I'm exposing myself to everyone so she can see who popped their bubble gum or sneezed or what color car drove by. That meant that even in her room with the door closed she could still hear when Nolan jumped off the bed upstairs and made a thump. Or when he yelled outside of her door. So even now, when she hears something she stops nursing, wants to sit up, turn toward the sound. And while she's turned around 'oh look, there are some books' and 'there's a picture on the wall' and 'is that facebook you're looking at your phone?' and I wrestle with her to get her back in the breastfeeding position so she's interested in nursing again all the while she's wiggling and whining and then 'oh, right, I was nursing' and latches back on. Or sometimes she doesn't and that's the end of the session/attempt. What this means is that at bedtime (the only time I nurse her to sleep) I sit in the dark with the sound machine on praying Nolan doesn't have a meltdowns right outside her door.
When she needs to eat she cries and whines and fidgets. Dave holds her, facing out because she straight-arms him in the throat while reaching for me if he tries to hold her facing him. And for some reason it seems like he is too close to me. That she is too close. While I rush around the house getting my nursing supplies ready: 32 ounces of water I need to drink at every feeding to keep up my supply, my phone to check email and Facebook, my kindle in case no one has played their side of words with friends, the sock filled with rice and heated to near burning to sooth my shoulder/neck pain from sitting and staying the nursing position. All the while she is whining and I'm the ONLY one who can do anything about it. In the morning, when she hears me come down the stairs she starts to fuss. When she HEARS ME WALK DOWN THE STAIRS. I can watch Dave, Nolan and Emily on the monitor playing happily, reading books and doing morning time snuggles and stuff but when she hears me (or smells me) walk on the stairs, she starts crawling to the kitchen and whining. I certainly can't participate in their morning playtime without Emily freaking out because she wants to eat.
Every day for months I suggested to Dave that I wanted to stop. I made lists of reasons why I should stop and why I should continue. Shamefully the top of my 'to continue' list was that I don't have to clean up from dinner. Yes. That was my best reason to continue. Well, that and that once you stop nursing you can't (well, I won't) go back. And what if bottle feeding is worse?! What if she starts screaming again, non stop like she did as an infant? What if she buries her face in my chest crying while all I need to do is whip it out and she would stop? Dave continued to support me. Continued to suggest that it was my decision and he would support whatever I decide. I gave it another 24 hours. Another day. Another week. Another month.
So here I am, two months away from my stopping point at 12 months. Emily nurses ONLY 3 times a day. I still don't like doing it (except for getting out of dinner cleanup and avoiding bedtime battles with Nolan.) She eats food, drinks formula from a sippy cup and is thriving. I wonder if I'd enjoy bottle feeding her more than nursing or would I have other things to whine about- bottles to clean, costs, etc. I wonder if I made the right decision. That's the trouble with this parenting stuff, I always second guess myself. I just got unofficial clearance from the nurse at the pediatricians office that I can introduce whole milk. It's early, according to guidelines but everyone is different. Every parent is different and every child is different. Something about this news made me stop and consider no longer nursing her. And while part of me is happy, oh so happy, the other part of me realized I've been using that time so unwisely! So my goal these next two months is to put the phone down. To look down at her, to admire her, to appreciate her. To appreciate this time together. This time 'off duty'. This time to bond with her. Because in 56 days I'm done breastfeeding. And while bittersweet, I can't wait.