Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Separation Anxiety: Time to Remove the Boob?

As you may or may not know, Sam is a breast fed baby. When I was pregnant, I knew that I would breastfeed, but I kind of thought I would get sick of it at some point and switch to bottle feeding. Well, that never happened. During the 'ideal' time to introduce a bottle to a newborn, I had a wicked yeast infection on my breasts and was advised not to use my pump. Also, by that time, post-partum hormones had taken over my brain and every time I thought of giving Sam formula, my head would explode.

Disclaimer: I have NO problem with formula feeding. All mothers and babies are different, and they are the best judge on how to feed their babies. This is simply how we did it. My fragile mental status at the time made me believe that if I gave Sam formula, he wouldn't bond properly with me, and that's a load of BS. I was crazy, what do you want?

The result of all this insanity was that later, when pumping was an option again, Sam was old enough to know what he wanted, and it wasn't no damn rubber nipple. Every afternoon, we would try and give him a bottle. Upon insertion of the imitation boob into his tiny chew hole, we were met with a wailing that could only be likened to the howling of baboons. So after we moved here to Atlanta we gave up on the bottle feeding.

By the time Sam was six months old, he was already very experienced with a sippy cup. It would be a while before he could hold one on his own, but the kid would guzzle water from one like a thirsty hamster at a hanging water bottle. Unfortunately, water was, and continues to be, the only thing he would take from one. In fact, I may have the only child in the known universe who doesn't like juice. He drinks milk and water, that is it. And? The milk must come from the tit. Directly. I have a freezer full of bags of frozen boob juice that he won't touch. I've tried serving it warm, I've tried serving it in various types of cups, and now that he's older I've tried mixing it with whole milk. The result is always the same. First refusal and then bitching.

All along I was planning to nurse for one year and then consider the future. Well, the future is now, and I'm conflicted as all hell. In some ways, I really want to continue nursing. First of all, it's simple and what we're used to. There are no dishes to be washed, no cups to be spilled. Emotionally, I relish this connection I still have with my baby boy, and I think that since I've become pregnant again I have an even stronger longing to maintain this unique relationship. I only have a few more months to share with him and him alone.

Also, I initially was planning to wean so that I could cut lose every now and then if I so desired, but getting knocked up kind of put a damper on that plan, too.

On the flip side, my body seems to be taking a big hit right now from the combination of simultaneously being pregnant and nursing. I am always tired, hungry and thirsty. Always. Right now, I am eating cookies, drinking a 32 ounce glass of water and thinking about when I'll be able to take a nap. I eat all day long, and haven't gained an ounce. My OB has strongly recommended weaning by the end of the first trimester, which is three weeks away. I know that his opinion is debatable, but if I'm already feeling this drained (pun intended), I can't imagine how I'll feel once I'm six or eight months into this pregnancy. Additionally, SOB and I have been planning a small trip without Sam for months with the goal of completing our weaning by then. The trip is on February 18-20, but I just don't know if we'll be ready by then. Last week I started offering him a cup instead of a boob at two of his daytime feedings, but then he got sick. All he wanted was to cuddle and suckle, and all I wanted was to comfort my sweet sick boy. So we've been set back.

I have no conclusion to this rambling post. All I have is a head full of conflicting ideas and a heart full of taught strings being yanked in different directions. I know (or hope) that there is a supportive group of people reading this who may have some insight, some personal wisdom to share. Please do. Please.

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susan said...

Oh, how I wish I could give you some words of advice for how to go through this, but my oh-so-limited experience yeilds nothing worthwhile. When weaning LG, I learned to take it day by day -- each bottle (or in your case, cup) that he took in place of nursing had to be looked on as a success. If you want it, I'll be happy to email a copy of the plan that I came up with to you IF you promise to remember that it was successful despite a myriad of setbacks. Beyond that, I'll just send you lots and lots of good vibes that whatever you figure out will give you, your beautiful little boy, and the precious little one inside you the greatest peace and joy.

Lora said...

Like Susan, I've got nothing but support to offer you. Weaning was the strangest thing I ever did in my whole entire life. Stranger than childbirth, stranger than that one time in Tijuana...

I was so conflicted, hated the thought of formula, but loved the freedom, which is what won the battle in the end. Sure I snuck in a few "this-will-be-the-last-time-I-nurse" sessions, but we found new ways to bond. Sometimes I regret it, but there are so many other amazing things we do together that I get over it quickly.

DNA said...

So, I stalk your blog every now and then and Sam is just adorable! I was a little hormone crazy when my son, Spencer, was 3 months old and went on a nursing strike. I had just gone back to work and I wasn't ready to let breastfeeding go. I had to give him breastmilk. The thought of weaning sent me into tears and I felt like a failure no matter how much my intellect knew it wasn't so. But he weaned himself from me and so I pumped, and I pumped, and I pumped. Until Spencer was 10 months old I exclusively pumped. I can't tell you how hard this was, how much I struggled with it everyday, how much it sucked, or how I look back now that "it's over" and wonder: what in the hell was I thinking?? What I can tell you is this: take it a day at a time. It was always harder on me than it was on him. You will absolutely find other ways to bond, that are just as special and private. And he will absolutely still thrive and think you're #1. Absolutely.

Amy Jo said...

Thanks for all the kind words. It's been even harder than I thought it would be, but mostly beacuse he's been sick. All he wants is some comfort in the form of a boob. We're going to start in earnest next Monday!