My experience with my daughter as my second child was so very different from my experience with my son, her older brother. The differences are mostly good, some controlled by me and others beyond my control. The most positive differences were from her delivery, a VBAC, to her first moments outside of the womb, immediately placed on my chest and latched on to nurse. I was ecstatic and relieved about her entrance in the world. It was like night and day when compared to the delivery of my son. I felt empowered, I was super woman 😄💪 and knew in my spirit that this journey of motherhood Part II was going to be an interesting one.
One of the disappointments that I faced with the beginning of my journey with my son was having to supplement breastfeeding with formula. I wasn’t as informed as I thought I was about the facts of breastfeeding. For example, not realizing that I should not determine the amount of my milk flow on the amount of milk expressed through my breast pump, especially in the first 2-3 months because the baby’s suckling extracts milk differently than the pump. I would cry after every pumping session because I would let down less than half of the bottle, which was about a little over 1 ounce, after 15 mins.of vigorous pumping. So, during my pregnancy with my daughter I decided to thoroughly investigate everything I needed to know about breastfeeding and tune out everyone’s opinion on what I should do, because of course they were heavily involved with unsolicited advice the first time around with my son. I was confident in what I learned and with my husband’s support I decided that I would exclusively breastfeed.
My daughter did not have any challenges with latching on and I felt like I was in complete control and proud of how well the journey was going. I introduced solids at about 6 months and I started to watch for signs of her weaning off on her own because that is what my son did. He was officially weaned off at 7 months. I actually took it personally when he stopped. I felt rejected. He refused to nurse, he began to act confused, as if he had no idea how to nurse anymore, so I just let it go and he continued to be formula fed. However, my little princess decided otherwise and 6mths. passed, 9mths. came and went and it didn’t seem like baby-led weaning was anywhere near her thoughts. I was beyond surprised and had no interest in mother-led weaning (deciding to stop nursing before she gives me signs that she is ready to do so) or abrupt weaning (discontinuing all breast feeding suddenly-basically, cold turkey). I was confident that she would stop on her own by her 1st birthday, but here we are at 14 months and there is no sign of her giving it up! Which simply means putting a deadline on weaning, especially as a stay at home mom, without any sickness or new medication that could be harmful to your baby IS A JOKE! My breasts are not my own, smh!
My daughter currently drinks almond milk, water and diluted juice in a sippy cup or a regular cup. She doesn’t care to drink from a bottle. She currently eats table food excluding foods that include nuts and I haven’t given her eggs as yet. Her appetite for the most part is good, but there are some days where it feels like all she wants to do is nurse all night or constantly throughout the day and that can be very tiring and draining for me. She takes two naps a day and most of the time she wants to breastfeed to sleep, including at bedtime. I have attempted to give her warm breast milk in a sippy cup to help her fall asleep, but she rejects it, especially at bedtime and has an attitude/mentality of “mommy you know better, where are MY BOOBS”, smh. She thinks she owns me and sometimes I honestly feel that there is some truth to that, smh..
Lately, which is the last month and a half she has wanted to nurse, just because, which has made me adopt the title of being her “snack bar”. Seriously, she is snacking on me for about 5 minutes randomly throughout the day outside of when she wants to sleep. Oftentimes I can’t get a lot done because she wants to cuddle or nurse. I adore my children and I especially love the cuddles and kisses and I am proud that I have been able to give her nourishment for such a long period of time. However, sometimes it can be exhausting and it has put a damper on my social life with some extended me time, family, friends or with my husband. Ladies night, includes her. Mother’s Day outing this year included her too, because unlike my son who I sent to grandma’s the night before for an overnight visit, she couldn’t go because she would give hell for bedtime because she expects to nurse to sleep.
Of course people have to continue to give their unsolicited opinion/advice. “You’re still nursing”!, “Whoa, she is so attached to you, when do you get a break”, “How do you expect to go back to work in the new year if you are not starting the weaning process”, “When will you be able to take getaways for a few days if you are still nursing”, “She will eventually bite you while nursing, so maybe then you’ll stop”, and many, many other “lovely” remarks. They are not in my shoes, but somehow seem to think that weaning is necessary at her age and simple to do. They believe that I have complete control on “cutting her off”. Some of these comments, believe it or not, are coming from people who have my best interest at heart. They don’t realize that their words don’t speak life into the situation, but just create unnecessary worry and add anxiety to my feelings about the process of weaning. No one understands my plight (including my husband, who attempts to empathize and be supportive), except another breastfeeding momma with a similar situation. This is why I have written this post because there is another momma who may be going through this or will go through it and needs to know that they are not alone and can be encouraged by how I tackle this challenge.
So how will I deal with this ? I have to commit to being persistent on my thoughts and convictions of what is best for my daughter and myself. Choosing to breastfeed your baby is not just about them, it is about the momma too. Your confident or anxious thoughts about it affects your milk flow and even your baby’s ability or attitude about breastfeeding. I believe this, not because of the research, but because of my 2 polar opposite experiences of nursing my children. Regarding those people with unsolicited opinions/advice, I have to tune them out, respectfully say thanks but no thanks to their advice, and as I said before do what’s best for me and my child. Last time I checked, my body and unmistakably my boobs do not belong to them. They don’t even belong to me. When it comes to breastfeeding they belong to me and my daughter and when she gives me those cues to stop we will. They are our boobs.
When I have to get away she will have to scream bloody murder if that is what will help her deal with my absence, well really the absence of our boobs, it’s inevitable. When I decide to return to work it will be our journey to take, our time to face the music and I will not feel guilty for choosing baby-led weaning, mother-led weaning or partial weaning (gradually eliminating some feedings, not offering, but not refusing). I’m sticking to the plan of NO PLAN!