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Aug 04

My Breastfeeding Story, Part 1

I think it’s World Breastfeeding Week.  I could be wrong, but there do seem to be a lot of stories out there about nursing.  I have nursed all of my children, and had very different experiences each time.  This is the first story.

I was late to the party, so to speak, with mothering.  And by the time I got there (Jessica was born a week before my twenty-ninth birthday), I had a lot of preconceived notions about what I’d do as a parent.  A lot of those got thrown right out the window (she was a pacifier girl from the beginning, and I swore I wouldn’t do that) but nursing was one thing that went exactly the way I wanted it to.  She had been born via emergency c-section, after twelve hours and four minutes of labor (because a contraction woke me up at 6:28 a.m.).  By the time I recovered enough to be able to hold her, I was so head over heels in love with her.  More than love – I NEEDED her, in a way that I hadn’t ever needed anyone before.  I didn’t feel right unless I was holding her at first.  Nursing felt so natural, of course it was how I was going to feed her.  I wanted to be with her all the time, and nursing on demand meant that I got to have her with me.

By the time I went back to work, at fourteen weeks (got two weeks extra for the c-section), nursing was well established.  So well established that she stopped taking the bottles after the first few days and would simply go on a hunger strike until I came back to nurse her.  I’d nurse her in the mornings, come back at lunch and nurse her again, and then she’d sleep until I got there to pick her up.  I was never more grateful than when my boss laid me off when she was three months old.

I don’t remember any struggles with Jessie and nursing.  I had thrush, but it was easily treated, and not much of an issue at all.  She used to fuss before sleeping (and by fuss, I mean scream hysterically and refuse to nurse), I’d have to trick her with the pacifier to calm her down enough to get her to latch on.  Of all of my babies, Jessie was the least interested in nursing.  She was much more into the pacifier as a self-soothing tool.  She nursed, but she did it because that’s where the food was – and that’s very different from how her brother approached it.

We started solids at four or five months, and she… just loved it.   She gradually tapered off nursing, a little bit at a time, until she got to eight and a half months.  Then she was done.  Just done.  If I had known then what I know now, I might have tried harder to get her back to the breast, but at the time, it felt like it was just the natural progression.  She was done.  I had to respect that.  We switched to formula for a few months and then I transitioned to regular milk.  Her weaning process was entirely Jessie-led, and so incredibly easy.  I was never uncomfortable, she tapered off so gradually and slowly that my body just adjusted.

Jessie is still my most difficult sleeper (she still fights sleep like it’s the enemy) and oddly enough, is still my only child who will happily skip a meal if she doesn’t like the presentation.  She used her pacifier until she was four or so, and gave it up reluctantly (which should have been a clue as to what weaning future children would be like…).  But nursing her was so blissful, and I’ll never forget what those first few weeks were like.  Because I was recovering from surgery, and had no other babies to chase, I was able to literally just sit and rock her all day long.  She’d nurse and drift off to sleep and I’d rock and read and then we’d repeat the whole cycle.  It was fabulous.

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