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weaned.

hi my name is bananie. i am a lactating mother. i last breastfed my child nine days ago. i am pretty sure that nine days without nursing warrants official wielding of the term “weaned”, right?

i wanted to nurse jude until she was 2. then i got pregnant. and i realized that jude would turn 2 three months before i gave birth. the likelihood of tandem nursing seemed pretty high. and daunting. and holy hell my boobs sure did hurt from all those pregnancy hormones.

i thought that jude might wean herself, that my milk would completely dry up or change flavor. however, she held on with gusto. she only wanted milk at night, before bed, and usually for less than 5 minutes. sometimes, she’d have a moment on the couch in the morning. it was all comfort, little to no nutrition. and though i remained hesitant to let those precious moments go, the act itself was becoming more physically uncomfortable.

a few weeks ago, jude’s nose was stuffy for several days, which meant even less nursing. i took that time to introduce a sippy cup of water or milk at bedtime. she didn’t really ask to nurse. [quick digression– bedtime these days looks like this: i read jude a few books, we turn out the lights, she has a little milk, and then she asks to go into her bed. i cover her up, say goodnight. the end.]

and then the weekend of awful sleep happened in dallas. she regressed a bit, wanted to be babied a lot, and in the middle of the night she wanted to nurse. i did what i used to do in a cosleeping situation: i whipped out a boob for her and went back to sleep. she fell asleep while nursing, and proceeded to BITE THE FUCKING FUCK out of my nipple. i yelped, squeaked, squawked, tried to unclamp her. but she was out cold and wouldn’t let go. jude has never been a biter, thank GOD; this was a total sleep-chomp. but the pain was ridiculously intense, and came only hours after she accidentally pinned my nipple to the bed with her elbow while throwing a tantrum. i’m guessing that the experience was akin to a good kick in the balls. i was immobilized for a bit.

…and sore for days after. too sore to nurse, in fact.

when we got back from dallas, jude wanted to nurse again. she asked for milk at bedtime, and when i offered her a cup, she clarified her preference by pulling up my shirt. when simple distraction no longer worked, i pulled out my trump card of no return: sorry, baby. mommy’s milk is all gone.

the first time i said it, she looked at me quizzically, but when i immediately offered a cup of milk, she was totally fine with option number two. nine days later, she sometimes forgets and asks for mommy milk, but all it takes is a reminder, and she is okay. no tears. no tantrums. in fact, at bedtime most nights, she is opting out of beverages altogether, and just wants book and bed.

so. yes. jude is weaned, just shy of 22 months old. i am so proud of our breastfeeding relationship, that we made it last this long. i already experience nostalgic moments with an air of wistfulness and finality. a montage of jude nursing through the ages plays through my head with a soft glow. it abruptly ends with these thoughts: she will never nurse again. that season is over now.

i grieve a little bit, feel a bit of relief to have my boobs back for a few months, and i celebrate what a rousing success we’ve had. i’m more at peace with the change than i thought it would be. and the best part? she snuggles me for the snuggles alone now. there’s no ulterior motive of, “if i get close enough to mommy, i’ll totally score some milk”. she just wraps her arms around my neck and goes limp on my growing belly. bliss.

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so. yeah. i’m still breastfeeding. i forget that you all don’t see me nurse my large baby every day. silly me. the last thing i probably wrote about the subject was this dirgeful post.

i don’t pump anymore. my boobs are definitely crosseyed pancakes. but jude sure does love them. she still giggles maniacally excitedly at the sight of them. i thought i was surely drying up, but no. i’m clearly producing enough to keep her happy. most mornings, she’ll snuggle up next to me on the couch and nurse while watching dora. on my days off, she’ll nurse for a few minutes before taking a nap or going to bed for the night. when she is done, she pats them and nuzzles them and says, “allllll done”.

you could say that i still nurse on demand, and you would be right. mostly. jude went through a phase in which she demanded the boob in inappropriate places. like, the grocery store, while i was pushing the cart. she would try to lift my shirt, and i would say “not now” and she’d scream. and then i’d be that parent, which isn’t all that bad, honestly. that parent usually ends up with an aisle all to herself.

mostly, jude is discreet about her requests to nurse anymore, but i am not averse to breastfeeding in public, or in front of friends and family. it is strange to be on the receiving end of that judgmental look i’ve heard about for so long, but i try to ignore it. the question, “how long are you going to breastfeed” isn’t so much inquisitive anymore; it carries the distinct tone of worry that i may well be nursing a kindergartner if don’t wean her now.

i know that jude is not going to nurse forever. i never thought she’d disengage from the boob as much as she has, all by herself. trusting my instincts has never steered me wrong in my small time as a mom. i am confident that what little milk i have left is keeping h1n1 at bay, when friends all around are succumbing. and as jude languishes through the slow emergence of molars, i know that my breastmilk soothes her. i also think that nursing helps jude work through the emotions that usually manifest in tantrums. nursing is her stiff drink at the end of the day.

on the whole, i still enjoy breastfeeding. i love the quiet moments alone with my daughter, when she snuggles in cozily, and is once again my baby. i see that baby less and less, and it is a comfort for me to be present and savor those moments. i am preparing myself for that fast-approaching day when she will decide she is done. but, as of today, i am in no hurry for it to come. i am simply grateful.
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dry.

the girls, they are deflating and fast. i peek down my own top to see pancakes with nipples. and jude, she suckles back and forth and back again, with such enthusiasm, only to get what? a sip? a trickle? i can’t tell. she sits back, points at my chest, and signs, with a knit brow, “more. more. more.” but there isn’t any more.

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gimme sugar.

this amazing shot was taken by our dear friend m last weekend, and clearly illustrates my daughter’s can-do attitude when she wants to nurse. any bit of exposed flesh will do.
Picture 2

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1. i’m done pumping at work, i think. making 3ish ounces per day just isn’t justifiable for all the time and effort spent hooked up to the bovine machine.
it’s the end of an era. i wonder if i’ll ever play solitaire on my ipod again. i also wonder how much longer i will be breastfeeding, period.

…can’t dwell too much on that. or the fact that jude will be a year old in less than a week.

2. planning a wedding–however small and casual–is complicated. anyone know a fambly friendly judge in iowa city?

3. here’s a really cute pic of jude kissing her crying cousin, carlitos. does this mean she’ll be an empathetic big sister some day sooner than later? hmmm…
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my daily life lately has been all about constant editing and improvisation. work demands have included a weird schedule with even weirder-timed pumping breaks, and my supply is suffering. my left breast seems to have all but dried up over the past few days. picture me in a tshirt, right boob huge and left one non existent. the girls have not been so lopsided since 6th grade, when i stuffed my bra for about five minutes, before they grew from training bra to a d cup.

i’ve been combatting the um…inequality…by pumping as much as possible (after replacing the membranes. oh powerful suction, how i missed you!), as well as keeping jude latched on my left side more than usual. i’m hoping things will even out soon. my right side always produces more than the left, but this is ridiculous. i don’t like operating at half capacity.

little j is all about solid foods these days. she shakes with anticipation when we put her in her high chair, and her affection for her fancy spoons is rivaled only by things such as applesauce and cereal. she only really nurses undistracted late at night and early in the morning anymore. she needs absolute silence and, preferably, darkness, in order to stay latched. otherwise, there is a sensory world all around her that demands her attention. distractions are so very frustrating for both of us. for me, it’s like trying to pee, but feeling painfully bladder shy. for jude? i imagine it feels like being about to take a big bite of a juicy burger, and then someone asks her a question. over and over.

i digress.

so yeah. solids. solids = less nursing. less nursing = less supply. less supply = supplementing with formula because i’m not producing enough to meet little j’s needs during the day. this cycle is depressing me. a lot. breastfeeding is at the top of the list of Ways I Feel Like a Mother. yesterday, when after 20 minutes of hardcore pumping, one of the bottles was still bone dry, i nearly lost my shit. i felt like i was losing the only firm hold i have in meeting jude’s needs. because i’m gone so effing much. i kiss her sleeping head every morning, and come home every night to a cranky, tired baby who is about ready to go to bed.

i know i meet her needs. she loves me. she is connected to me. but nursing is the tangible proof of that. and when faced with the possibility of losing that integral part of our relationship now, i panicked. i cried. i made h feel sad and helpless because there is nothing she can say to make it better. and then she went out and bought me new membranes. she brought jude to work so i could nurse her over my lunch yesterday. this morning, j snuggled in bed with me and nursed for two hours before i had to get up and go to work. and i’ve pumped often and long today.

the good news is that i’m still producing milk. and i know i can keep my flow going. and the other good news is that it’s now my job to find non-nursing ways to feel bonded to my child. i think it will involve a lot of snuggling, sharing baths, and copious praise for her near crawling pushup skills.

wednesday baldness.

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woes and such.

this weekend was nothing short of lovely.  little j was quite snugly with me, and we spent a whole lot of time napping together.  she kept herself in bright spirits, happy to be wherever she was, so long as there was a boob nearby, and i spent hours sniffing her head and making her giggle.  

monday was apparently rough for her, however.  i think j is still getting used to the transition from my presence to my absence, from boob to bottle.  h said that she was fussy all day, and would wake up in the middle of the nap with a panicked wail.  her demeanor totally changed when i got home, and she spent the whole evening on the boob, sneaking in smiles and coos when she wasn’t suckling.

meanwhile, my milk supply is dwindling.  i pump as soon as i get up in the morning, as well as 3 times throughout my work day.  each day, i’ve watched my output (as it were) lessen by about an ounce each pumping session.  my morning pump is usually the most productive: 13-15 oz, and this morning, it was 10.  during the day, i can usually get about 7 oz each time, and yesterday i pumped about 15 oz total.

i’m pretty confident jude has enough milk at home for today’s needs.  but she consistently drinks 25-30 oz during the day.  what if i can’t keep up?  what if my supply continues to dwindle?

to make the milk go a longer way, we’ve started adding a bit of organic rice cereal (1 tsp) to a bottle or two a day, and though little j seems to love it, her digestive system has a hard time keeping up.  she was crazy constipated one day last week, and consequently, we had to put some apple and pear juice in her bottles to help her along.  (she loved this btw.  she is realllly into sweet things.)   it worked, and she’s a happy pooper again, thankfully.

oh, and did i mention that she’s starting to teethe?

so yeah.  my supply.  i’m trying to drink enough water at work.  i’m eating well, and thanks to jude continuing to sleep through the night, i’m sleeping about 7-8 hours.  i really don’t want to have to resort to supplementing with formula if i can help it.  for all you presently or formerly lactating ladies, any suggestions?

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