Monday, July 15, 2013

strike

On Thursday morning, Linnea nursed on my left side for 5 minutes, and hasn't nursed since as of today. She is 49 weeks old.

Our breastfeeding journey started out precariously, but after weathering the initial horror, random pain on my left side that lasted 6-7 weeks, intermittent biting, and a late round of mastitis, I took for granted that we'd able to coast to her first birthday, and I could start weaning her. No more pumping! No more having to be home in the evenings so that I could nurse her before bedtime!

The flaw in this plan, clearly, was the assumption that I would have control over when the weaning occurred. Clearly, eleven months was not nearly enough time for me to get to know my daughter.

Now, whenever I try to get her to nurse, she howls, arches her back away from me, and squeezes big crocodile tears out of her eyes. It takes a few minutes to calm her down. Even though I was not particularly attached to nursing in a "MAH BABEE IS GETTING MAH LIFEFORCE" kind of way, it was truly devastating to receive this type of reaction suddenly.

Books, websites, lactation consultants universally claim that babies don't wean before 1 year. That this is a nursing strike, that a baby who won't nurse can't nurse, blah blah blah. And yet there are forums and blog posts and whispered conversations with other mothers experiencing the opposite. Some nursing strikes last for 1-2 days. Some last for 2 weeks. There are recommended techniques. Bathing with your baby in a relaxing way seems a little challenging with a super active almost-toddler banging her toys on the shower door. Lying in bed all day with her with our shirts off would be great if I weren't working full time and/or needing to do household chores. Sneaking a boob in the mouth while the kid is asleep or nearly asleep seems a little, I don't know, rapey.

And how long do you persist? It feels like after a certain point, you're almost bullying the kid into nursing again. "Fine," the baby sighs. "If it will make you happy, jeez."

Linnea is clearly going through some stuff. She's started walking, she's figured out how to put things in other things (instead of tearing things to shreds, or as Whit say, "making big things into little things is her superpower"). She may be teething again, but what eleven-month old isn't? At the end of the day, it doesn't matter why something's happening, just that it's happening and we have to support her the best we can.

I am mournful, however. I knew weaning was coming soon, and had made attempts to be more present during nursing in recent weeks. But I wasn't always consistent, and it kills me a little inside to know that during our potentially last nursing session, I was probably reading some BS about celebrity gossip or trying to order something off of Amazon.

In the meantime, instead of a glimpse of the sweet, blessed end of the pumping tunnel, I am currently pumping exclusively. I'll probably keep offering for the next few days, but will probably just let it go after that so I don't freak her out. I'm not quite ready to transition her to cow's milk, and so for the next 2-3 weeks, it's eep-oop, four times a day. Ugh.


after a monster 4 am nursing session, 6 weeks old


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