I’ve run across several good blog posts lately about nursing (this one from Like Mother Like Daughter and this one from Call Her Happy are at the top of my head right now) that have helped me reflect now that I’m nearing the finish line with Gus. He’s 11 months old today, and things seem to be winding down a bit in the nursing department. I’m sure we have a few more months to go, but we’re close enough to the end that I think I can finally see the forest for the trees.
I am so grateful to my mom and my older sisters for being my “collective memory” as Auntie Leila puts it, and for making nursing normal to me. I think that, more than anything else, was the driving force behind my sticking it out with SK. I struggled so much with nursing her. After experiencing a long, painful labor ending in a c-section (and then some other very trying times right after she was born) I ended up being totally dependent on a nipple shield that a helpful nurse at the hospital provided us with. And I was so humiliated! I already felt like such a failure after having that first c-section, and then to be dependent on the shield was such a blow. I tried to get her off of it but eventually I just let go and accepted the fact everything was working fine with the darn thing. Now looking back, I can see that the shield really wasn’t a big deal.
The bigger deal for me with nursing was being blindsided by the all-consuming nature of it. I had just finished 9 plus months of being pregnant and then a traumatic birth, and now I was supposed to somehow recover mentally and physically whilst still being attached to this needy little baby 24-7? I was not prepared for that. I was not prepared for the fact that you are on call all the time, there are no subs, baby wants and needs you! And then to add insult to injury, you lose half your hair! That motherhood 101 course… it’s a doozy.
So, this time around with Gus, I was more prepared in some ways. I was determined to do things without a shield this time, and I succeeded! … after 2 and a half painful months. Gus has a bit of a tongue tie, which we had checked out by the pediatrician and a specialist who both told us that it was minor enough that he would grow out of it. And they were right, he has, but those first couple of months were incredibly painful. Between that and the fact that he would nurse every 2 hours on the nose, all through the night for the first couple of months, Dave was ready to hop in the car and buy some formula. I was a mess.
Nursing can be so tough! I have friends who don’t struggle much with it at all, and I have friends who struggle greatly and are not able to nurse for long, if at all. I try to be encouraging to women who are nursing because it’s so worth it, it’s worth a try, it’s worth the pain and the sleepless nights. Like Rosie said in her post this morning, just wait a few weeks and things will be better. But also, it’s okay to get help. It’s okay to use a nipple shield, or a pacifier, or to pump or to supplement. These aren’t moral issues; you have to figure out how to make it work for you.
Now here I am almost to the finish line of my second nursing marathon. This is my sweet spot emotionally and physically with nursing. He’s not nursing a ton anymore, so I can get out for hours at a time without him, but we still have our sweet moments together after naps and at night. I don’t take for granted the fact that Dave and I will have more kids; Gus might be my last baby, so I’m soaking up his babyhood. But at the same time, I’m ready and I’m grateful for the break coming soon. And he’s getting ready to take off on those chubby legs of his!
[A certain fluffy towhead interrupted the writing of this post to, you guessed it, nurse.]