On June 5th of 2009, I gave birth to my very much wanted and loved surprise baby girl # 3.
If you knew me then and before you know the struggles I had with breastfeeding. It was not one of those relationships that came “naturally”. In fact, I would argue that with #1 and #2 it was anything but natural. Then my #3 came along and something changed in me. Maybe it was my high risk pregnancy or just being a 3rd time mom I just felt differently about nursing. I stopped listening to others tell me what, when and how to do it and just really focused on Anna and I figuring it out together. I let go of the idea of formula being a failure and breastfeeding being the be all end all. I had so many regrets with #1 because I got so caught up in what everyone else was telling me and what I thought I was doing wrong. With #2 the relactation and the pumping. That when it came time for # 3 I knew I could handle whatever happened. When she arrived it was natural. My guard was down and I knew the importance to the anti-jkb and the possible side effects of that and the mobile NICU in Fort Wayne being on call. So I followed my motherly instincts and it worked. She and I never struggled. In fact, most anti-jkb babies struggle with jaundice and #3 barely showed any signs of it. Only once did I break down and provide formula or a bottle. That time wasn’t because I didn’t think it was working. It was because I wanted to go to bed early. Ironically, she refused. She never has had a bottle ever. She never had formula.
So as with most things society or well meaning family and friends say, “Have you thought about when you will be done?” Or sometimes they would be so blunt as to say, “She doesn’t need that anymore.” All of which I feel like was met with respect by myself because honestly it was always my and#3’s decision to make. It wasn’t one that would be dictated by when others gave it up or what some book tells me was right. I knew the benefits of going past a year so I set a goal of 15 months. That came and passed and then goal became 18 months. My doctor was so wonderfully supportive and my close friends, those that I shared the info with were incredibly supportive. But no one was more supportive than my own husband. Who went out of his way to support me in this. He knew (took the time to educate himself) the benefits of us continuing and loved what nursing was able to do for both # 3 and I.
Eventually the questions stopped coming from others and maybe it was because they already knew the answer or maybe even didn’t want to know. I never was embarrassed or ashamed to say # 3 is still nursing I just honestly never felt it was anyone’s business. Besides we were far passed the nursing in public stage. In fact, really the only time the nursing took place was sometimes nap and for bed. The longer it got the more we wouldn’t do it. Sometimes she would go a full week and she would not ask once. Sometimes she might ask three times a day. The goal always was to do a gentle wean or what some call the don’t offer – don’t ask. That is pretty much how we have operated since about 17 months.
Now here we are two weeks away from her 2nd birthday and she hasn’t nursed for over a week. You ask how this time is different right? We have gone weeks before. After the last time I knew it was the last time. I just felt it in my heart. Three weeks ago I started on meds that counter act my milk supply. The doctor that prescribed them thought they might be the perfect helper in my gentle weaning process because of what they do. He seemed to operate on the theory of once the milk is gone, she will be too. Again another educated and supportive doctor that complimented my nursing for two years because most don’t. I look at her and I am so proud of myself and my accomplishments with her. But all the kudos go to her. I feel like she showed me the way and how to just have faith in myself that I could succeed at this if I just followed my own instincts. That is why I never got deterred. I knew what I was doing for her was right. She is a happy well adjusted toddler with amazing educational skills and I can’t help but think I had something to do with that.
Had I decided not to nurse #3 until she was two I would not have gotten the joy of hearing her ask to nurse. She would chase after me saying, “Nenebop”. The girls and Daddy all knew when #3 shouted this what it meant. I would not have gotten to witness her fall in love with her first stuffed animal, the Boppy or “bop” as we all so lovingly called it. I would not have gotten to see her nurse the same at almost 2 as she did as a newborn which is with her foot placed upon my chest/neck as if to pin me down. I would not have gotten all those wonderful moments of seeing her as she drifted off to sleep or nap time. I would not have gotten to see her giggle as she tried to talk while nursing. I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of teaching her about not biting and that it is inappropriate. More important out of any other benefit is the time I was forced to sit down and enjoy this miracle so that there was never any regrets. Every child is a miracle, but she is truly a miracle for us in so many ways, so that is why I waited.
Isn’t She Lovely (Stevie Wonder)
Isn’t she lovely
Isn’t she wonderful
Isn’t she precious
Less than one minute old
I never thought through love we’d be
Making one as lovely as she
But isn’t she lovely made from love
Isn’t she pretty
Truly the angel’s best
Boy, I’m so happy
We have been heaven blessed
I can’t believe what God has done
Through us he’s given life to one
But isn’t she lovely made from love