Been thinking about writing this for awhile, but I thought I’d wait and see what happens next, as I initially thought ATOTB would be a four part series, and that part four would tie up loose ends, offer some reflection, and end the series.
But here I am–BG is just shy of 14 months and I’m *still* breastfeeding.
A teacher gifted me a plaque for my birthday when I was in the first grade. It read something like “God helps those who help themselves” with a drawing of a little girl in a garden. She wasn’t even my teacher–she sent for me to come to her classroom, and presented me with this little plaque. I was surprised, and I felt very special and loved. I proudly hung the plaque on my bedroom wall. I now wonder why she chose me–maybe God spoke to her?
Those words stuck with me.
My ability to EBF my daughter is nothing short of miracle, given my challenges. But I have endured. I have done everything in my power to go this distance with my baby. And bless her heart–my BG is a tenacious little creature and she did her part too.
To continue where I left off…
At around 10 months, I got mastitis *again*. $@&#!
I was really not f*cking around so I asked Dr. Angel for antibiotics, and I took them for a good 3 weeks. I asked for pain meds too–not Tylenol 3 because I hate that sh*t–and he gave me Norco (which I only needed until the antibiotics kicked in, maybe 3 days). I was in A LOT of pain. Nipples were all sorts of inflamed and I could hardly stand to nurse BG.
BG was teething her top teeth, which is what caused the infection in the first place because she broke the skin around my nipples, and it just wouldn’t heal. I’m a 2x veteran of nursing with open wounds/mastitis now.
In order to heal, I had to pull her off when she latched in a way that irritated/put pressure on my wounds. BG would scream and cry, not understanding why I was denying her. I had to try all sorts of weird positions to prevent new injuries and heal the old ones. We were both miserable.
Oh, and Mr. MLACS was living/working in Texas so I was 100% on my own.
While all this was happening, I was desperately trying to convince BG to take a sippy cup. Up to this point, she was only taking the breast and I was exhausted of nursing her *constantly* throughout the day. Around this time I ran out of f*cks to give if anyone was offended about me nursing in public. BG was too big for a nursing cover and I had lost any inhibitions I initially had. Granted, I tried to be discreet. If anyone was offended they didn’t have the balls to tell me.
Then one fine day, she just up and decided to drink from a sippy cup!!! I was overjoyed! This was just as I was healing from the mastitis, and I think we were both ready for the change.
This was a real game-changer, because if she was just thirsty then she would take a sippy cup, and nursing went from being her main source of nutrition and hydration, to primarily a source of comfort. BG still nursed a lot, but we could go a couple hours without (whereas before we could not).
I was not ready to start giving BG milk (doc said to wait until 12 months and that was also my gut feeling) so she just had water.
BG’s appetite for solid food increased as her nursing decreased, and she started to want to feed herself. So I started giving her finger foods in addition to purees (around 10 months). She started eating puffs, avocado, banana, etc.
I’m not sure exactly when (around 11 months?) but I had been feeding BG squeeze packs of organic food–I would put them in a dish and then spoon-feed her. But I decided to just hand her a squeeze pack one day to see if she could figure out how to drink it, and she sucked it right down!
This was another game changer, both good and bad. Good–because BG could now feed herself and I didn’t need to spoon feed her (also they are great to carry around in the diaper bag for meals on-the-go). Bad–because BG started rejecting me spoon feeding her, and to this day I have a bunch of freezer burnt puree cubes in my fridge. I even bought refillable squeeze pouches to serve my homemade purees in, but she turned up her nose. Hurumph.
Up to that point, I had been feeding BG homemade pureed chicken stew and beef stew for protein. But then she turned her nose up at those–I think the texture annoyed her. So at this point (circa 11.5 months) I decided to introduce organic whole milk yogurt squeeze packs at breakfast, for protein. BG loved them! I watched for a reaction (to milk protein) but the only thing I noticed was she pooped more often, so no adverse reaction.
I then tried organic whole milk in her sippy cup, but BG wasn’t into it.
BG’s first birthday came and went. I started to notice some things–she went from looking quite thin, to looking bloated. Her face and tummy became quite round. But that was not a problem for me, just an observation. The strange thing is she would have a flat tummy/normal face when she woke up, and then become bloated during the day. I also noticed that she would start straining to poop in her high chair immediately after she ate her yogurt. Like her face would turn red and a vein would pop out on her forehead, and I would go pick her up and soothe her to relax her bowel contractions–this was a red flag. I emailed the doc to ask if she thought BG might be dairy intolerant, and the doc said I could try taking out dairy for 2 weeks and then slowly reintroducing it to see. But since dairy was BG’s only real source of protein (she poo poo’d meat/poultry and was fickle about beans) I hesitated.
We went for BG’s 12 month check-up at 13 months (bit delayed) and again I asked if she thought BG was having issues with dairy, and again she said I could try omitting it (apparently I was hoping for another answer). Doc said she really doesn’t need milk, especially since I’m still breastfeeding.
Luckily, I didn’t have to make the decision to omit/keep dairy, because BG started refusing the yogurt. It seems she tolerates a modest amount of cheese or dairy cooked into foods (like quiche) but reacts when there’s too much. This is exactly how I am with dairy, so I shouldn’t be surprised.
I should rewind and tell you that from the point that she started taking the sippy cup, her frequency of nursing dramatically declined. At this time she had also become more mobile, so she was distracted by cruising and playing. We have now dwindled down to nursing upon waking, nursing to sleep for 2 naps, and nursing at bedtime. I only rarely need to nurse her in public, and it’s purely for comfort. Not only has the frequency declined, but so has the duration. BG would “camp out” on my breasts–seriously, she would nurse for hours and stay latched while she slept (we co-sleep). Nowadays she *might* nurse for 30 minutes if she’s teething or otherwise uncomfortable, but generally 10-15 minutes is the max.
I am still taking Domperidone for my milk supply. When BG stsrted taking the sippy cup I weaned down to 4 pills + More Milk Plus at night. Now I take 2-3 pills + More Milk Plus at night. I’m not sure I really even need the Domperidone anymore.
I have mixed feelings about weaning.
On one hand, I miss my body autonomy. Sometimes after a long day spent either catering to BG’s demands *or* incurring her toddler wrath when I do not capitulate… I am SICK of her and do not want to be touched. Inevitably, these are the nights when BG can’t get to sleepand insists on nursing (while thrashing around) for an hour. And I grit my teeth and let her, because I’m tired of dealing with her. But after 30 or 45 minutes of her tugging my nipple in every direction, I cannot stand it and I kick her off the boob. Then she wails. Which drives me insane. And I either switch boobs and let her try again, or let her cry herself to sleep while pushing her away from my boobs. It’s pathetic, and this happens fairly often.
On the other hand, I love bonding with her. The nursing relationship is unlike any other. As she and I are both striving to gain independence, these quiet moments together are more rare and precious. Currently we are laying on the bed; she is latched and sleeping. Her little body is pressed against mine. My nose is grazing the top of her head. Her hand is on my chest. We are one. I feel whole. I feel peaceful. I feel grateful.
I am not ready to quit.