Oct. 28th, 2009 01:26 pm
ste_noni: (Default)
I've been nursing for how long, now?  Four and a half years, total.  Monday, I had a very painful lump/spot under my arm.  It hurt enough that I was sure it was a lymph node and I was trying to hold my arm away form my body because it was painful.  Today, I finally went to the doctor, only to find out that it is almost certainly a plugged duct way high up.  It's funny because I know what plugged ducts are and I've had one before but because this pain was practically in my armpit, it never even occurred to me that is could be breastfeeding-related.
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So, I’m signing up to be a mentor mom at adopt_a_mom and I need to write up a nursing story.  I think my experiences nursing are peppered throughout my LJ, but I guess this is a good time to put it all down in one place.


I planned on nursing from the beginning.  I knew it had lots of health benefits for mom and baby and I was looking forward to the special bonding opportunity.  I was lucky – I had a great birth experience and I was able to put Ellie to the breast just minutes after she was born.  She was able to latch on and nurse on the left breast with no trouble.  We were less successful with the right, but I just decided to focus on what was working her first night.  While in the hospital, I got lots of advice on how to get her to latch on on the right side.  I tried a nipple shield, which worked well. 


Once we were sent home, I nursed Ellie every few hours.  On the third day, my milk came in.  That day, we also had her first doctor’s appointment and they asked if I wanted to see an LC.  Since she was already there, I figured, why not?  Well, she totally freaked me out.  She told me I was doing all sorts of stuff wrong (at least that’s what I heard) and that Ellie was in danger of losing too much weight. Basically, I had become engorged while waiting to be seen by the pediatrician and this worried the LC.  After working with me for over two hours, she finally let us go.  I was close to tears and feeling really down because she made it seem like Ellie was not doing well.  I went home and talked to my mom and my doula, both of whom encouraged me to pump when needed and focus on diaper output.  I worked on keeping Ellie awake long enough to get full and pumped on the right side (she still wasn’t latching on).  By the end of the first week, I felt like we had the hang of it.


I kept on nursing on the left and pumping on the right.  I was studying for the bar exam and Joe was redeploying to Iraq.  All that, plus a three week old baby was plenty of stress and I just couldn’t handle more stress about nursing.  Thankfully, Ellie got all the milk she needed form the left side and after about three months, I gave up pumping.  I was able to stay home with Ellie which meant that I didn’t need to pump at work and when my mom left, there was no other adult around to give her a bottle so we sort of fell out of that habit.


I’ve had a couple of nursing issues along the way – mastitis at about 6 weeks and 18 months and thrush around 13 months.  Not much to say about those except that it was the pediatrician who diagnosed the thrush (it hadn’t been bothering Ellie or me).  Also, the first round of mastitis was classic – fever, aches, chills, and a hard, red patch on my breast.  The second time just had the redness.  Each time, we were able to nurse/pump our way through it.

Because of the bar exam, Joe's deployment, and orders to move when Ellie was about 12 months old, I stayed home with her until she was 17 months old.  It wasn't my plan or anything like that, but it just worked out that way.  By then, she was only nursing 4 times a day or so and she didn't seem to have much toruble adjusting to no nursing during the day.  We continued nursing at bedtime/naptime, in the night, when waking up, and usually when getting home from work/school until just recently.

Ellie is now 29 months old.  We just night weaned last week.  She actually went to stay with my parents for a week (weaning wasn’t the purpose, but I thought it might be a side effect).  My nipples really appreciated the break because they have been very sore since I got pregnant back in May.  Anyway, Ellie seems to be successfully weaned at night – she has no complaints with Daddy putting her to bed.  She is still co-sleeping, but is happy to just cuddle up next to me at night.


I thought we might be altogether weaned after the visit with my parents, but yesterday she asked to nurse.  We are sort of in a “don’t offer but don’t refuse” phase.  I’ve decided I wouldn’t mind tandem nursing, but I think it will make it harder for Ellie to accept her little brother.  She likes seeing other babies nurse on TV/the computer, but it seems to upset her to see real babies nurse.  I’ve been working on helping her understand that she’s not the only nursling in the world – that other babies nurse, especially when they are very little.  We will see how it goes.


I’m looking forward to nursing a newborn again.  Well, maybe not the frequency that a newborn requires, but it’s just such a different experience than nursing a toddler.  I’m hoping to succeed in nursing on my right side this time around.  There’s a lot less stress in my life and I understand nipple shields and how they work a bit better this time


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Ellie and my dad are on a plane in Houston right now, waiting to take off and come back to Puerto Rico.  Overall, this trip has been a total success.  My parents loved having Ellie there, she apparently loved being there, and Joe and I really enjoyed the break from parenting.  Also, it seems that Ellie made excellent progress towards sleeping through the night without nursing and we are going to try very hard to maintain that once she gets home.  We have all joked that home will seem boring after visiting Grandma and Grandpa, but my mom also says Ellie is really looking forward to seeing us.

It's weird - I had major misgivings about going from "never spent a night away from mom" to a week away, but it did not appear to bother her at all.  According to my mother, there was no "adjustment" phase or any crying about missing us.  As for me, well,, leaving her at the airport was very hard, but this entire week, I was very happy to know that she was having fun and trying new things.  The first two days were the hardest, but then it got easier.

I think we will try to make this a bi-yearly event - although not next spring because we will be visiting my parents in February when the baby comes and then in May/June while Joe is in Washington.  Still, it's nice to have a small break and know with certainty that Ellie is enjoying herself and being well cared for.

I did have a few insights due to her absence.  First, I knew this, but having a child is the reason our house is always a mess.  It makes me feel better to know that I can still keep a house organized and clean, but that it is the little tornado living here that makes it impossible.  It's not just that she makes messes, but caring for her takes up that time that I might otherwise use to just straighten up.

Second, being pregnant is not what it wearing me down - it is being pregnant and caring for Ellie while working full time.  I think I could do two of the three just fine, but it's that third one that means I'm exhausted at the end of the day.

Third, I was always one of those people who thought of my dogs as kids.  I have no problem with people who refer to their dogs as their kids and I can see why they do it.  However, it really hit me this week, when we had just dogs and no kid, that dogs are about a thousand times easier than kids.  You walk them, feed them, and pet them occasionally, and they are happy.   And if you want to run out for dinner or to get coffee or something, they just stay at the house.

Finally, before Ellie left, she was nursing basically just at bedtime/naptime and if she woke in the night (which happened maybe 3 nights a week).  I was very sore from nursing while pregnant and there's no milk left.  Also, my brain knows that Ellie will like her baby brother better if she's not still nursing when he comes.  Despite all that, my heart is a little bit sad that I may have nursed her for the last time.  I guess I should focus on being glad that we got to nurse for two and a half years.  When we started, I had absolutely no idea how much it would mean to me.  I thought about it a lot the week before she left, so it's not like it's unexpected for me.  I didn't talk to Ellie about it, which I now regret, but I didn't think about it after she left.  Still, my mom said she didn't ask to nurse when I wasn't there and Joe is going to take over bedtime for a week or two here.  I'm hoping it's just me that will have to make the emotional adjustment and that Ellie is ready.  If she's just not ready, she can still nurse, but I'd like to avoid that. 

Well, my dad just called - the plane is due to take off in a few minutes.  Oh the coolest part of their return trip - because of my job, I have a airport ID badge that I've never used but it's supposed to let me in anywhere in the airport.  So, Joe and I are going to try to meet them at the gate.  I can't wait to see her!


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