Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Growing Up is Hard to Do....

We visited with our Pediatrician this morning and I just love the nurse practitioner... I've mentioned her before. We had another conversation I have secretly been dreading, although I constantly announce how ready I am for this nursing situation to be over. As of this Saturday the Nugget will be ready for Whole Milk. From the very beginning I was committed to nursing because I could not do it with Sugar Mama. We were in a different financial situation and I couldn't afford a serious pump and did not know cheaper options were available to me, so Sugar Mama was on formula. At the time I did not regret this decision and really don't "regret" it now.

Once the Nugget came along I was determined to do it. There was a sense of pride when I pumped that small amount into an ounce bottle the first time and when I walked into the NICU and was greeted with a congratulations as if I had saved many lives the pride was flamed. I spent every day at the hospital where they provided me a hospital grade pump and then I pumped once in the middle of the night with my smaller pump and transported my small amount to the hospital to give the Nugget when she ate during that week. I was nervous how I would do when she came home, but for that short time I was able to pump enough to give a formula bottle every other feeding and they supplemented with formula during the other feedings.

On the very day she was to come home from the hospital I had pumped enough to put her exclusively on breast milk and I had never experienced that level of pride. After feeling, with Sugar Mama, that my body was unable to care for my babies like it should have; it felt great to provide exactly what she needed. And because the Nugget was unable to get a good latch I pumped for the first six weeks. In the wee hours of the morning I would feed her a bottle with breast milk, lay her down, and then stay up and pump for 15 - 25 minutes. It was ExHaUsTiNg...but necessity was driving me, and on a more superficial note the money I was NOT spending was more than worth the sleep deprivation. When I tried to nurse her latch was so terrible I would bleed, and discouraged would result in giving her a bottle. Some mornings when the night had been more than I could handle I would pump 16 ounces in a single sitting... I had storage bags for days in my fridge...

Until around 5 weeks when I noticed that my pump was not pulling as much milk as it had once been. I was nervous... I did not want to switch to formula now.. 6 weeks was a long time to go then turn around and give up. So I researched ways to improve milk production... can you say gross?, and tried to get the Nugget to nurse. Finally when it seemed my pump would no longer be strong enough to pull my milk she FiNaLlY latched on. I even rented a hospital pump for back, when I went back to school.. I know crazy right? And because she cried so often I stopped drinking caffeine. I have had only Crangrape juice and water since she was 6 weeks old, hoping this would tone down the crying and increase my milk, the crying did stop, but the milk did not increase. She did so great with the nursing and I pumped so rarely that the rented pump was returned and I had stated for the first time "I will be so glad when this is over... I will certainly not miss it".

About 2 months into exclusive nursing I overheard a woman say something about nursing while laying down. I have to admit that being discreet in public was hard. Before I get emails or comments about how beautiful and natural breast feeding is and I shouldn't have to be modest let me say:
I agree with you.. I too think it is beautiful and natural. However, on any given day I am not interested in seeing your bibi's, and certainly not in a private moment like feeding your child. It's a personal choice and everyone is entitled to how they feel...
Having said that...I fumbled a lot and found it difficult to do in the same room with anyone I didn't want to flash, so laying down didn't seem feasible either.. but I tried it, it worked, and we were doomed.

I nursed in the bed all too often in the middle of the night, and so the Nugget and I spent most of our time together.. I was unable to leave her anywhere is except with my Mother In Law came over to sit while I went to school. This was for short periods of time before the Hubs came home, but as soon as I walked through the door, both she and I were ready to nurse. This was our only time apart and I was starting to resent my decision. I loved school, my hubs, and my girls, but the chance for just a few minutes of alone time were slimmer and slimmer by the day, until she was so attached I could go NO WHERE, including the bathroom without her. "I am so ready for this to be over and certainly will not miss it". It took until February of this year before I would really address my lack of sleep and how it was not only affecting me, but her and our entire family.

You can read the blog about sleep training and how I was reluctant to take that step as well. FYI sleep training works.. I did it and could not be happier with the results. It took about a month of routine and practice to get her going to be and sleeping. She was like a different child.. the crying stopped for the most part, and she was happier. I was happier too, and the sleep was definitely helping. It wasn't even until about a month ago when the hubs started putting her to sleep while I was busy that I noticed she was going to bed without nursing. For about 3 months before that I was missing the bedtime routine with Sugar Mama... we always ate dinner...had baths.. got dressed, and read a book-prayers. The hubs always had to do it because after the Nugget had her bath I was nursing. "I will be so glad when this is over and I will certainly not miss it". And then I didn't need to nurse at night anymore... and just recently I've noticed that she has practically weaned herself. She only nursed about 2 - 3 times a day and for very short periods of time.

I have been counting down to this weekend for 11 months now... feeling like I can't wait for it to be over, and now it almost it. I am so NOT over this and I certainly WILL miss it. I am excited about the freedom no longer nursing will present.. she will be able to be watched by someone other than me, because her milk will be coming from someone else, and this will mean a bigger school load, but that freedom doesn't feel so free anymore. It's a sad thing when the grow up. The hubs and I have had a lot of conversations recently about the Nugget being out last child... if that is the case I am glad I had the experience of both nursing and not, but if she is not the last, I will nurse again. It was time consuming, often frustrating and exhausting, but in the morning when she and I can spend those few precious moments alone I know I did the right thing. And it's not for everyone, but one day when she's moving out, getting married, or having children of her own I hope she understands the decisions I made.. just as I hope Sugar Mama understands the reasons I was unable, but that I loved her just as much.

It may not be cold turkey... I may still nurse and give her regular milk, most importantly it will be what works best for her. And I have recently said to the hubs "I wonder how I will feel the first day she does not nurse at all"? Tears are welling up as I write this and I laugh internally at the thought that something I was so over from the very beginning is really over and a sense of loss comes from an unexpected source. She's never really mine, she belongs to the Lord first, and then I get to borrow her for a short time before some man.. (ugh) comes and takes her from me to have a life of her own.

Today I am Thankful for:

The borrowed and permanent moments he gave me with the Nugget during these 11 months. My body for doing what I asked of it, and the bitter irony that my nourishment gives her the things needed to grow and one day be too grown to be under my wing.

I saved my children umbilical cords... YuCk I am sure you are exclaiming, but I could not throw them away... I was powerless, I had to keep them and when the Nugget's fell off the reason behind it finally hit me... those little black, crusty, gross pieces are the VeRy last things that kept those girls JUST mine. When I (and the Lord) were the sole providers and I shared them with no one. How could I throw those away? So I placed them in a Ziploc bag and tucked them away in memory boxes and hope, like all the other stuff, they will understand why I made the decisions I did.

P.S. I did not forget Sugar Mama... she is my first and we had our moments of reflection when the emotion seems to strong to put into words. After all in all accounts she was never to be here, but this is a moment reserved just for the Nugget and I, and for that I am also thankful. Precious memories the Lord reserves for each child, knowing one day I will need to look back and have those filed away to share.

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