Flashback: Breastfeeding at 15 Months, an Update from 7/2013

To continue my celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2014 I decided to republish blog posts from breastfeeding at 15 months from  my old blog http://www.itzybellababy.blogspot.com. This post is from July 2013. I was over a year into my breastfeeding experience, and the story shows me how far we have come.

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I knew when I got pregnant, that breastfeeding was the only thing for me and my baby. I researched, read everything I could, and was certain that even if I had issues, I was going to work through them.

I wasn’t so much interested in the process, per say, but I knew that the milk I made was the best thing, the most dependable thing I could feed her. I also felt that as long as I was staying home with her, I would try to keep breastfeeding as long as it was working for us.

My first goal was 6 months, then 12 and I haven’t really set a goal past that, as I was planning to return to work, and was not sure how I would feel then. So, initially, I took an awesome class with a Lactation Consultant, who I also engaged as my Doula, and I felt confident in my choice.

I had issues the first couple days, and I will not deny that I gave in to the Doctors, when my giant baby ( 11 pounds, 11 ounces) lost more than 10% of her birth weight the first few days. I was on anti-hemorrhage meds, and it took 5 days for my milk to come in, and at their bullying I broke down and gave my baby formula for about 2 weeks. We did make very conscious efforts about how she got it. Not from a bottle. And always after I put her to breast for as long as I could tolerate it.. sometimes up to an hour, sometimes longer.

When her Dad was giving her those little droppers of formula, I was pumping. Even if I got a few drops at a time of that precious colostrum, she got it. We where lucky, that as soon as my milk came in, it was plentiful and she never got nipple confusion or denied me. Things were still tough. She fed almost continuously it seemed, as newborns do.

I honestly have very little memories of that time. I didn’t sleep even when she slept those 20-45 minutes a few times a day. But we managed to work it out. Fast forward- over the next 10-12 months, that baby breastfed consistently every 2-3 hours, every day of her life.

There are only a handful of days over the past 15 months where she has slept more than 6 hours at a time. Only 2 or 3 of those days in the past month or so. I pumped off and on, and she got pumped breast milk sometimes at social events when mom wanted a glass of wine, or the few times we left her with family for a few hours. I would say though, that our breastfeeding relationship has been really good for most of these months. Teething, and some colds featured some bitey days and demands that were harder for me, but I really grew to enjoy the process, in a way I hadn’t realized I would.

So I have been actively trying to get a job for the past 7 months. I have to admit, it is not going well. I have had more interviews than I can count, and my anxiety has spiraled. As time goes on, I feel not only am I less interesting to an employer, I also feel my work knowledge may become dated. I do try keep up, but it is not the same as working.

I also have had some mental stress about how I will keep up breastfeeding at work. My baby has been slowly, slowly decreasing her feeds over the past 3 months or so, but we are still on the high side of what others are doing at this age. She eats 2 big meals a day and we snack all day, so I know she is getting good nutrition from me, as well as solids. I only recently have added regular, non breast milk liquids to her diet (almond milk with added protein, whole milk rarely and water.)

My period had returned about 4 months ago, and I have noticeably less milk past my monthly ovulation. My let down seems slower, and my baby is less satisfied with our sessions than she used to be. I tried lactation cookies, fenugreek, pumping, and a few other suggested supplements to try to boost my supply during those 2 weeks. But nothing really has helped. I talked to a lactation consultant, and she agreed I was doing all I could, but really, it is hard to increase your supply at 15 months unlike those early months of breastfeeding.

I felt discouraged, but I kept at it anyway. So this month, I have been having a lot of issues with baby. She has been a little growth spurty, teething and is starting to test her toddler limits. She only will breastfeed in our bed, laying down, in spite of all the places we used to do it. She refuses to adjust her latch most days to a nice comfortable position that does not leave teeth marks on me, or even scrapes me. I have consulted many sources on how to reposition her and other techniques, but she is stubborn. It has been painful to say the least.

Prior months we had bitey issues, but we worked them out.. this month, not so much. She is cutting 2 molars, and 2 other teeth right now, so I get that it is a hard time, and may pass. It also may not. But I have to say, that my patience feels thinner for all of this. I feel a tremendous amount of guilt about that. I really want to be able to say that I let her wean, and that we will do this as long as she wants, but there is a part of me that is really considering weaning.

As I mentioned, we had a few nights this month where she actually slept longer than a 5 hour stretch. It was bliss. Good heavy dinners I think helped, but I can’t make her eat anymore than she wants. I just offer variety and hope. I did get a little desperate one night and popped a bottle of whole milk on her, after she nursed me raw for about a half hour- which is a lot longer than she usually nurses these days. She loved it. She slept from 9-4am. It was bliss.. So I thought we would try again. And again. I also started this for naps. Nursing first. Always, and if she wanted more, I gave it to her. I was careful not to let her see the bottle though. Today, for her nap, I made the mistake of letting her see the bottle of pumped milk I defrosted for her. I have a few ounces that will be “expiring” and I didn’t want to waste it. We laid down to nurse, but she could see that damn bottle and when she didn’t get letdown in 40 seconds, like she wanted, (it usually takes a few minutes these days,) she started crying for that damn bottle. I gave it to her.. and cried while she drank it. I felt pretty bad. She started to doze off a bit, but I actively offered the breast to her, and she took it, begrudgingly.

I felt even worse. When I do go back to work, she will be going to daycare. I read so many stories about how babies get sick so often there. Especially initially as they are being exposed to so many more germs and such, than they normally would staying home. I also weigh in that most of those babies are on formula. I know that my milk protects her, as long as we are nursing, and not just getting frozen pumped milk. I want her to have that immunity. I want her to be healthy.

I am not sure where it leaves me. I feel like she may not miss the nursing if we stopped. That milk is plentiful, comes from an endless source and is instant. She does not seem to care if its my pumped milk, whole cow milk or almond milk. That makes me feel even worse. I really feel like it would make my life easy to not have to ever start a job and worry about pumping and lugging milking supplies about. If she was younger, I wouldn’t even consider weaning before I started working, but at 15 months, I feel more like I might be happier to do that.

I will most probably be working with chemicals in my job, wherever it may be, and it gives me a lot more pause while nursing, than it would as a regular person. I know all the risks, and where the hazards are. That is my job to control those for everyone, but that doesn’t ever really mean zero exposure to anyone. I add this to my list of justifications in my mind. I don’t know what we will do. .. I am just not sure I feel like weaning is the right thing for me. I do not want to be selfish. I have been so giving and self-sacrificing the last year and I take a certain pride in that. I know I have done the best I could do in every situation, with her in mind at every turn.

I do not want to look back and say- I should have.. I really have been so confident in my choices so far…this is new ground. I just know I want to make the right choice. One where I will not feel guilty later for stopping too soon, and wishing I hadn’t. I know that there is only one choice that alleviates my guilt, and that is to let her decide. Hmmm…

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