Friday, November 14, 2008

Got Milk?

Spoiler Alert: This post may be just a little Too Much Detail for those of you who don't care to reflect on the nutritive value of my mammary glands. I'm just saying...

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Every kid is different, I know this. I have learned enough in this parenting gig to know that I don't know much, but I do know this.

Cecilie was a slow starter, but OH, once she got going? A champion feeder. That kid fed EVERYWHERE, anytime, all the time. My most vivid memory is of feeding her - standing up - on a bus in Rome, at Christmastime. (To be fair to the Romans, a nice gentleman did stand up & give me his seat, despite having the Best View On the Bus.)

I went back to work when Cecilie was 6 months old, and at that point she was eating huge amounts of food, all kinds of food, drinking out of adult cups (with mixed results) but refusing all formula, all bottles. She accepted no substitutes. All the Mommy-book chapters on 'Back to Work' essentially advise just staying the course, that eventually they'll come around. Not my girl. I faithfully pumped, with a hand pump, in a front lobby bathroom (as it was the only private restroom in the building!). Twice a day, EVERY day, I pumped. And nary a drop was drunk. But at night, hoo boy. Cecilie had an all evening feeding frenzy. When I got home at 6, she'd feedfeedfeed for 30 mins, and then eat her supper, and then feedfeedfeed for another 30 minutes at least as she drifted off.

Needless to say, I was able to nurse this crazy special girl for a long long time. 13 months long, ending the very week we moved back to the States.

Then there was Lars. A good size baby, a great feeder from the start. We had a few issues, but quickly figured them out & I was pretty confident I'd cracked this whole nursing lark. Clearest memory feeding him? On a speedboat, in the middle of Deep Creek Lake, in a rainstorm.

And happy it was, right up until 8 months when I went back to work suddenly. Another kid who wouldn't take a bottle, didn't think formula was The Formula for him. But being the easy going Middle Child he is, Grandma pretty quickly convinced him that bottles were the only drinks he'd be getting. Lucky for everyone, because I worked L-O-N-G retail hours and barely got home by 7 to feed him to sleep at night.

Again, there was the twice a day pumping. On the upside, at least this time I had an electric pump. On the downside, I was pumping in the backroom of a v-e-r-y chic furniture store. And then schlepping all this gear back and forth on Metro. Faithfully faithfully I did this, even in the face of ridicule from the young & fabulous gay guy I worked with. And then, by accident, someone at home spilled the beans: Lars was actually drinking formula for most of the day. There just wasn't enough milk. So much for bringing home the bacon....

From that day, it got harder and harder to keep giving it the old college try. Combine that with the profound guilt of being at work full time? Breastfeeding was a program that got Canceled Due to Lack of General Interest (on Lars' part).

Annika was going to be the Golden Feeder. The full-size, hit-the-ground-running, 3rd-time-around-Mom-must-be-an-Expert! Feeder. Again, a few hiccups to start, but we did pretty good. I didn't have the endless hours to sit & nurse like I did with Cecilie, I didn't have the 24/7 support of living with grandparents like I did with Lars, but we muddled through. It meant early-morning feeds with kids climbing all over the rest of me, it meant buying some unneeded toys at Target to ensure they stayed in one place whilst feeding in the cafe, it meant occasional total mayhem in the bathtub while I tried to nurse Annika at night.

No crazy Extreme Breastfeeding stories for her, I don't think, unless you count the sheer VOLUME of places I've fed her over the last 10 months.

There was the whole Allergy Drama, but even that didn't really put a damper on things. I was truly okay with giving up the eggs & dairy, because it helped me learn what I'll need to do for Annika. (Didn't hurt that I lost a fair few pounds skipping the cheese omelets either.)

To cut a rambling & pointless story short-ish, we did ok, my Baby and me. I didn't go back to work, I've been around to feed her whenever. But she's our third: a bottle is no big deal, being left with Grandma/Farmor is not that unusual, if Mom is out of time & can't nurse before we pick up Cecilie, then I'll just have to wait for another 20 minutes. As any experienced mama will tell you, when you stop paying attention, things start to slide. She started waking up - lots - at night, and losing interest in nursing in the day.

I'll be honest, I know she's my last one, so I was ready to feed her for as long as she wanted. However, there comes a time where I won't win any awards for being up all night with her. So I'm throwing in the towel, folks.

This has made for a bittersweet season for me. Every time I can get her to nurse, I try to memorize every detail, in case this might be my very last memory of nursing my kids. I'm making every effort to be present in this shift from mothering babies to mothering Big Kids, and treasuring for the last few days that tiny hand pat-patting my chest or reaching up to stroke my hair as she drifts off.

1 comment:

Lady C. said...

Beautiful!

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