Category Archives: Breastfeeding

Wean Me Gently

by Cathy Cardall
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I know I look so big to you,

Maybe I seem too big for the needs I have.

But no matter how big we get,

We still have needs that are important to us.

I know that our relationship is growing and changing,

But I still need you. I need your warmth and closeness,

Especially at the end of the day

When we snuggle up in bed.

Please don’t get too busy for us to nurse.

I know you think I can be patient,

Or find something to take the place of a nursing;

A book, a glass of something,

But nothing can take your place when I need you.

Sometimes just cuddling with you,

Having you near me is enough.

I guess I am growing and becoming independent,

But please be there.

This bond we have is so strong and so important to me,

Please don’t break it abruptly.

Wean me gently,

Because I am your mother,

And my heart is tender.

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I really needed to read this poem. A fellow breastfeeding mom posted it on a forum that I belong to online. I’ve never met her, but boy am I ever grateful to her for sharing it.

I’ve been trying to start weaning Jesse for several weeks now with little success. I tried “cold turkey” and all that got us was a lot of crying (on both our parts). I’ve been feeling just “done” with breastfeeding lately and I wanted to end this on a good note. There are days when he’s happy with nursing only before naps and bedtime, but then there are days where he needs me seemingly all day long. Then of course there are other days when he falls asleep in his high chair or with Daddy and doesn’t need me at all. I guess this is how it’s going to go for us. Eventually it’ll dawn on me suddenly that it’ll have been several days since we last nursed and I’ll be sad for this piece of our relationship to be over. At least that’s how I’m hoping it’ll go.

Smack in the Middle Kind of Day

Today was a tough one…

Forgive my brash phrasing, but I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put away wet. From the moment the kids woke up this morning I’ve been “on” without a break and now I’m exhausted.

5:30 am . . . . . Jesse wakes up hungry. I sit up in bed and feed the baby, browsing Facebook and Google Reader on my phone to stay awake.

6:30 . . . . . Put the baby back to bed, try to catch another couple of Zzzz.

7:00 . . . . . Jeremy comes in the room and everyone’s up now.

7 – 9 . . . . . Shower, dress both kids, feed both kids, do my hair and get dressed, re-dress Jesse because he drenched his first outfit in spit-up. Run around the house looking for baby shoes, don’t find any.

9:15 . . . . . Leave the house 15 minutes late, head for our Tuesday playgroup.

9:30 – 11:30ish . . . . . PLAY PLAY PLAY. Well, I wrastled Jesse a bit, tried to keep an eye on Jeremy, tried to carry on several conversations with my friends as they played with their well-behaved children. We had a great playgroup meeting this morning, but I left tired.

12ish . . . . . Walk in the house and immediately start making lunch. Fight with Jeremy to eat the lunch. Lose the battle. Feel quite defeated by the 4-year old because he won’t eat cheese. [What kid doesn’t eat cheese? Seriously. I thought most kids’ diets are made up of about 90% cheese or something.]

1 – 3 . . . . . MORE PLAY. Wii games, Don’t Spill the Beans (which Jeremy refuses to play correctly), books, baby toys, a couple episodes of The Spectacular Spiderman (the kids cartoon). All the while Jesse absolutely will not stop pooping carrots and wails anytime he is put down for even 3 seconds.

3 – 5 . . . . . Jason goes to work, I am left unrested with two kids who don’t think they’re tired. I finally coerce Jesse to sleep, turn on some Veggie Tales for Jeremy, and start working on my menu plan for the week. How two hours went by so quickly, I have no idea.

5:00 . . . . . Jesse wakes up angry because I tricked him into sleeping. [I know, those of you who know him are confounded that Jesse could ever be angry. Let me assure you, he has my red-headed flash temper and when he gets angry, he is angry!] I take nearly an hour to feed, console, rock, bounce, sing to, and otherwise attempt to pacify the small one. Eventually something worked, or perhaps several of the things acted in unison as the sun passed exactly into the correct succession with other celestial bodies and a shaman somewhere in the world took pity on me and said a blessing – however it happened I’m grateful. During the pacification attempts Jesse whacked me in the eyebrow with a maraca, kicked me in the throat, alternated between pushing away from me violently and pulling toward me via my shirt and every facial feature (eyelid, lip, cheek, earlobe, nose and neck), all the while yanking my hair constanttly. Oh, not to mention he bit both my nipples really hard, with teeth!

6:00 . . . . . Cook dinner while working with Jeremy on his homework book and doing my best to keep Jesse from losing his $h!t because he’s strapped into his highchair. Throw in realizing that our computer chose to wig out and I find a blue screen of death staring at me. I successfully restarted is normally, but I really didn’t need that tonight.

7:15 . . . . . Jason comes home, we eat dinner as a family and he goes back to work. This 30-minute stretch is the most calm we had all day. It’s, no kidding, the calm before the storm. The only breather I get before the children go postal.

8:00 . . . . . At this point Jeremy is very nearly vibrating with exhaustion as he is overly tired and his little 44-pound body is doing it’s best to expel every last bit of energy before he collapses. Jesse is in exactly the same boat but one-ups his brother just slightly by refusing (still) to be put down at all. I allow Jeremy to play two rounds of Wii boxing because he desperately needs to release the last of his energy which is boiling just below the surface. Jesse is furious because he is trapped in his toy corral. (Jeremy does a lot of hopping and moving around while boxing, the last thing I need at this point is for him to squish his little brother.)

8:30 . . . . . Pajamas and a book (of course he chose a long one). This is usually the best part of the night because Jeremy gets quiet and cuddly. But, let’s throw in a big ol’ except right here – Jesse is wound up like a tangled yo-yo and tries to leap from my arms to attack the book. I try to nurse him while I read; he holds on with his teeth while simultaneously pulling away from my chest (who knew nipples could stretch so far!) to get to the book that I am holding an arm’s length away (my arm’s length). I let out a cry of pain and frustration, Jesse releases a cry of anger, and Jeremy covers his ears with his hands. I close my eyes, breathe, and count to 5. I hug my boys close to me and finish the book.

9:00 . . . . . I tuck Jeremy into bed. He gives Jesse a hug and kiss and says “I love you brother.” My heart shatters.

9 – 9:30 . . . . . Jesse gets some nursing. He fell asleep about 5 minutes in but ate heavily in his sleep until his chunky 24-pound body took a deep breath, shuddered a little and gave up.

10 pm . . . . . I have not been this tired in SO long. I contemplated just falling into bed fully dressed, but I needed to get this out or my mind didn’t have a chance of shutting off.

All this time I have been also considering what I wanted to do to relax before going to bed:

  • I could knit, that always feels good.
  • I could take a soothing bath with the new lavender bath salts we made at MOPS last week; that would calm my mind.
  • I could read over and try to answer the questions from last week’s bible study.
  • I could watch a mindless chick flick; that would drown my thoughts.

Then I thought of all the things I need to do:

  • Clean the kitchen (again). I already put the plates and things in the dishwasher and ran it, but the pots and pans are still on the stove.
  • Install and set up some security for my blog. Though I have thrice now un-hacked my website, I don’t particularly like doing it as it aggravates me highly.
  • Pick up the house; there are children’s toys strewn everywhere.
  • Finish Frank’s laundry.
  • Start planning next week’s MOPS newsletter.
  • Write today’s post for the Mobile Spouses’ Club blog.
  • Review this month’s budget. Have we totally blown it?
  • Unpack the suitcases from that Christmas trip we’ve been home from for two weeks now.
  • Call my mom and grandmother to thank them for the birthday cards I received a week ago.

That list could go on for quite a while. I think all I really wanted to say here is that some days are good days, and some days are bad. Some days are smack in the middle and seem to leave you the most tired of all. A mother’s work is never ever done, but sometimes the kitchen can stay messy til morning, your blogs and newsletters can wait til the weekend, a home that houses small children will never be perfectly picked up, the laundry will continue to grow. Eventually we’ll wear all of the clothes out of our suitcases, I’ll wash it, and put it all away in our rooms. It’s too late to call folks now, so it’ll have to wait another day (again) (sorry Mom!).

Right now Mama is tired to the bone. I’m going to leave all those things for another day, take a hot shower, and go to bed. Tomorrow we’ll start all over again. I’ve got a morning bible study class which will be a wonderful two hours for me for a few reasons: 1) I’ll see several of my good friends; 2) someone else will watch my children for a while; 3) and lastly, I’ll spend some time getting some much-needed spiritual refreshment.

And now, finally, “Goodnight ya’ll!”

Can I Give It Up?

I’m addicted.

I don’t know if I can break this habit.

What will life be like without it?

I don’t know if I’m ready to let go.

Can I just do it a little longer?

Breastfeeding has me hooked. I’ve written before about my nursing junky, but now I’m the one who can’t seem to adjust.

Jesse’s growing so fast and developing so well, I really have nothing to complain about. There is no problem with Jesse at all. His doctor was very pleased with him when we saw her for Jesse’s 6-month check-up last week. He’s doing better at sitting up, continues to be very engaging and talks (babbles) nonstop, and he’s been trying to grab the food from our plates for probably two months now. Jason and I have given him small samples of applesauce, mashed carrots, and peas, but not enough at any one time to replace a full meal. Lately we’ve been thinking about really starting him on meals of baby food. I thought, “Absolutely! Jeremy was eating full mashed meals by this age and did great!” Jeremy was also a formula fed baby, so everything was different.

By 6-months of age Jeremy was sucking down about four 8-ounce bottles of formula a day, sippy cups of water, and having full meals of oatmeal and fruit and veggies and mashed meats. Not to mention the almost constant snacks of Cheerios, flavored puffy things, teething biscuits, graham crackers, and animal cookies. He was a big eater as a baby, but was always within the 90-95th percentile on the growth charts.

Jesse just had his half birthday a week ago and has had almost none of the above. He has been almost exclusively breastfed except for a couple of formula bottles early on (which he hated) and the occasional bottle of pumped breast milk while he’s in the nursery at church.

A few days ago I was having a low-flow day and couldn’t pump more than an ounce all day. I felt bad, but we had to ask the nursery worker to try to give Jesse a bottle of formula “just to hold him over” until our Wednesday night class was over and then I’d come right in ready to feed him before we left for the night. A couple of hours later and I rushed back to get him. When I walked in I saw a happy smiling boy bouncing on Miss Michelle’s lap. I asked if he ate anything and she replied that he sucked down the entire bottle of formula without a fight. I know it seems silly, but I felt rejected. I know Jesse still loves Mama more than some silly old bottle, but the logic in my head can’t reason with my heart.

Ever since then we’ve been giving Jesse a handful of Cheerios every now and then while he’s hanging out in his high chair. More of them wind up on the floor and in his lap than in his mouth, but he does like them quite a bit when he does get one to it’s intended destination. Even that little bit of solid food in his belly over the last few days has affected my milk supply. I haven’t been engorged in the mornings as I have been every day since he was born, and Jesse’s been nursing less frequently so I know I’m not making as much.

Today I gave him a sippy cup for the first time. It had just a little bit of water in it (maybe 2 ounces at most). He played with it more than anything but once he found his mouth with the sipper, it was all over. His eyes opened wide, he smiled, and he went after that thing with intensity. It’s one of the short, round Nuby cups with two handles and a big soft mouth at the top. The sippy piece has to be squashed a bit (bitten) for any liquid to come out. This kind was Jeremy’s favorite. It was also my favorite because it only has three easy-to-wash pieces. Jesse loved it! I don’t think he got much water in his mouth, mostly all over his shirt, but he enjoyed the experience.

I was torn. I enjoyed watching him play with his new toy and I was excited for him that he was moving on to a new milestone of drinking from a sippy cup. However, part of this mama’s heart was sad because this means he’ll be nursing even less than he already does. We’re already down to only five or six times a day at most. We’ve gone as few as four times on his extra sleepy days.

I know it’s mean-spirited, but can’t I just say no to the solid foods and sippy cups and keep exclusively breastfeeding for a while longer? I know plenty of moms who have done it for a year before giving their kids any table foods for meals (just snacks). Jesse is showing all the signs that he’s ready to amp up his diet, that’s great for him but sad for me. I can’t be selfish and I really need to let him explore food, it’s just really hard this time. Jeremy and I had a different kind of bond. He never had any breast milk and though we bonded over the bottle and he counted on me for food in that way, it’s not the same as how Jesse quite literally receives his nourishment from me. It didn’t make my heart at all sad when Jeremy moved on to solid foods because I didn’t feel like I was losing out in the deal.

Summed up, this is it: Jesse is six months old, 22 pounds, showing all signs of readiness and desire for food, and wearing clothes made for a child twice his age (and growing out of them already). It is time to let him eat other foods.

I know in my head that letting him move on and take the occasional bottle of formula and chow down on snacks of table foods will be good for me too. Since we’ve been doing this I’ve been able to enjoy a few sermons from beginning to end and attend evening classes without interruption. I have to say it was nice to be able to do those things without having to worry and stress myself out over pumping enough milk like I did when I went out with my girlfriends from lunch until dinner for a bachelorette party a few weeks back. When Jesse was a tiny baby who slept all the time it was easy to just take him with me to those things, but now he’s awake and playing all the time – much too disruptive for a class setting or ladies night out.

Like I said, I know these truths in my head, but my heart refuses to believe them. My heart yearns to keep up the breastfeeding for as long as possible and hang the rest.

Mama Needs Water

I woke up at 6:30 this morning with a raging headache brought on by being slightly dehydrated yesterday.

When I felt the headache coming on as I made a batch of cupcakes last night, I realized that I had only drank three glasses of liquids all day. A little glass of juice with breakfast, some iced tea when we got home from running errands, and another glass of tea with dinner. To try to combat the headache, I downed a big glass of orange juice before bed, thinking that the sugar would keep my head from hurting too bad while I tried to sleep.

Well, it worked all night, but by the time the alarm went off this morning my head was hurting pretty bad and I was a little dizzy as I sat up. The boys and I took it easy this morning watching a couple movies and playing with Jeremy’s new toys from his birthday. I’m feeling mostly better now, but still dragging. I managed to get breakfast and lunch on the table but I haven’t accomplished any laundry or dishes.

The cupcakes we made last night were intended to be shared with our friends at the Mommy & Me group. With Jeremy still coughing, sneezing, and sore legs from his five shots at his check-up yesterday, Jesse dealing with croup at night and a minor earache, and then my slightly dehydrated state and tiredness, we skipped Mommy & Me. Now we’ve got lots of miniature and a dozen big cupcakes and no one around to help us eat them.

I really need to get into the habit of making sure I drink enough. With Jesse constantly growing and getting all of his hydration and calories from me, this big boy of mine could take me down in a hot second by quite literally draining me of all my energy. In other words, he’ll get what he needs and leave me dried up and hungry without much to keep myself going to chase Jeremy around.

My diet is pretty healthy. I make about 80% of our meals from scratch, about 10% is boxed (like mac & cheese, the occasional frozen pizza, and pasta), and we eat out about 10% of the time. We eat good food around here and always have plenty, but I’m horrible about drinking enough. I’m supposed to be drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day. Generally I drink 3, one with each meal, or sometimes four if I drink while making dinner (it gets hot in the kitchen standing at the stove). Most of the time I feel fine, and “drinking to thirst” will usually get you enough liquid to stay hydrated. However, sometimes we run around doing errands all day, I’m wearing Jesse in my Moby wrap sweating in the Southern heat and working off extra calories carrying the boy and walking faster than normal to keep up with Jeremy and I forget about that bottle of water that I tucked into the diaper bag.

Any ideas to keep me from getting dehydrated again? I feel bad for keeping the boys inside all day because I just wasn’t up to getting out of bed and driving over to hang out with other kids and moms this morning.

Breastfeeding Gurus

Yesterday I woke up with my left breast being swollen bigger than it’s ever been (bigger even than the week after birth and my milk came in *like whoa*). I latched on my boy and was surprised by some searing pain as he fed ravenously for the first time in 8 hours. When he let go I noticed a little white bump on my nipple and since he deflated the left side some I could feel a big hard painful lump in the underside. I mashed around softly and could feel that lump taking up at least a third of my breast and going all the way back to my chest wall. Commence 6 am freakout!  I dealt with double mastitis early after Jeremy was born almost four years ago and I really particularly didn’t want to have to go through that again.

Anyway, Jesse went back to sleep as he always does after gorging himself on his early morning pre-breakfast. I began scouring the Breastfeeding sub-forum on Coastie Chicks to find some answers. It was so bad that I couldn’t even rest my left arm against my body. I had to hold it out to the side a little like a chicken wing. I couldn’t hold Jesse with my left arm (where I usually hold him, since I’m right handed) which was incredibly inconvenient.

Everything I was reading led me to believe it was a plugged duct and that the best thing to do would be to keep feeding him from that side as well as gentle massage and warm compresses before feeding. We did just that. For every time I fed him on the right I put him on the left side twice as often. He was getting frustrated after about five minutes on the left side and wouldn’t feed as long, assuming because the clog was keeping him from getting as much milk as usual from that breast. Since the lump was deep in the left underside, the football hold especially helped because his little chin was pointed toward the lump and basically massaged it as he fed. We don’t normally do it football style, we prefer cross-cradle, so Jesse was kind of confused when I set him up this way a few times throughout the day.

At one point in the early afternoon it got worse because half a days worth of milk was now added behind the clog and I was hurting pretty badly. I took a nice warm shower and rubbed the hell out of that side. The shiatsu masseuse I used to see had nothing on my mad skills yesterday. I was getting in deep, rubbing down to the ribcage!

During his after-dinner feeding around 7:00 I could tell that the lump had shrunk some. Thank goodness! I thought that if I slept lightly I’d be able to keep myself from rolling onto my left side and tomorrow we’d be able to work on it some more. Jesse woke up from his post-dinner cat nap and was starving, so I skipped his bath (which we normally do around then) and fed him from the left again. I can distinctly remember when I felt the clog clear. It was like a second let-down from just the one side (I usually let down on both sides at once no matter which I’m feeding from). Jesse unlatched and gave me this bewildered look, smiled, and I could see all of this extra-thick creamy milk in his mouth. He latched back on and went after that boob like I’d never seen. I was kind of taken aback. I’ve never been “motor-boated” by my son before, it was funny and a little weird. He stretched his neck toward me, mashed my breast with his free hand, and moved his little face back and forth.

When he was done he popped off and laid back on the boppy pillow with this fully satiated grin, milk dribbling from the side of his mouth, and huge round belly straining the snaps of his pajamas. Jason took him to his crib and I started feeling around – the lump was gone! The clog and the pain were both completely relieved! Jason was laughing at me because I was bouncing a little on the bed telling him over and over how “Oh my God, honey, it’s gone!”

Thank you everyone who contributes regularly to the breastfeeding threads on my beloved Coastie Chicks. Special shout-outs to Becca, Sue, Sarah, and Yogini (sorry, I do not know her real name). I figured that if the clog was still giving me issues after a day of working at it that I’d go back and post some questions of my own, but there is already such a wealth of knowledge there that all it took was reading through some existing threads to find the answers I needed. Those ladies are fabulous and wonderful and all the good adjectives that I cannot think of right now because I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude. If I could, I’d send them all some big huge bouquets of flowers:  Love you!!

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Even though I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting three of the four women I mentioned above, they are all near and dear to my heart because anytime a mom has a breastfeeding question they are always spot-on with their advice. Having knowledgeable people willing to help even though you’ve never met in real life is certainly a Finer Thing!

Jesse’s Game

We’re playing a little game this week. It’s called “Starving Baby”. Usually Jesse will eat for a solid 10-15 minutes, unlatch, and we’ll pop him into his swing or highchair to hang out while I do stuff. Every now and then though, he’ll fall asleep but continue dream-feeding for a while. Normally I relish in the 30 minutes to an hour that it sometimes takes to feed my boy; sometimes I fall asleep too and we take a little nap together. Nice!

However, we just moved into a new house. About 75% of what we own is still in boxes throughout the house. I haven’t gotten to do much unpacking because my sweet little baby has decided that he is absolutely starving yet very sleepy. He is convinced that he is starving every hour or two and then falls asleep and dream-feeds each time I nurse him. Basically that means I’m sitting on my butt on my couch for half the day. Another quarter of the day is spent cooking and attempting to keep my half-boxed kitchen clean. And the last quarter of the day is spent sleeping and bathing and occasionally leaving the house.

Dear Jesse,

I really really love the special one-on-one time I get while feeding you, but we are tired of living out of boxes and the laundry pile is astronomical. Please go back to your quick feedings once in a while so that I can wash us some underwear, get rid of these boxes, and bake us some lemon bars. Thanks ever so much!!

Love,
Mama

Nursing Junky

The other day I volunteered to take a home-cooked meal over to a new mom. I was running late and needed to hurry out of the house. As it would happen, Jesse had been napping soundly but woke up hungry right when I had to leave. I didn’t have time to nurse him, much less pump a bottle for Jason to give him. I figured one formula feeding wouldn’t hurt him, we keep a small can of powder on-hand for emergencies. I mixed up a bottle and headed out.

When I got back almost an hour later, Jesse was calm but had eaten less than an ounce of the formula bottle. Jason, on the other hand, looked a bit frazzled. Apparently Jesse hated the formula so much that he fussed angrily and spat it all over Jason’s face.

I sat down to nurse the boy and he was ravenous. With one hand he even gripped the front of my shirt as if trying to make sure I didn’t leave again. After he was finished he gave me a huge, lopsided, sleepy grin.

whistling Jesse

I've yet to snap a photo of Jesse's grin since I never know when he'll flash me one, but this is another cute face he makes often. Looks like he's either trying to whistle or blow me a kiss.

My son is such a nursing junky. 🙂