Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Extended Breastfeeding, A Photographic Trip Down "Mammary" Lane

My Absolute Favorite Nursing Picture (no filter)
Hayden 2 1/4 Years Old

 As I round out what I know will be the last baby I will ever have the pleasure of nursing, it is bitter sweet.  It is literally making me tear up right now thinking of the last time he will nuzzle in, and as he says, "Ma, ah boo, ah drink? Dee Doo!" which in his beautiful little language means "Mom, can I drink your boob? Thank you!" 
He is a polite nurser that one.

Here we are just minutes into meeting each other, learning to latch on

A few days later my milk came in, he clenched his little fists so hard and pulled his little elbows in he was so excited to have mama's milk

 Here he is moments later drunk on milk

(Special thank you to my beautiful photographer twinnie Julia for capturing the above three shots)

I have ZERO pictures of me nursing my first son, Sam. Perhaps I didn't realize how precious those moments were, or how one day I would wish I had captured them, or maybe I was shy of exposing my breast. They say you learn so much from your first born. Never a truer statement was ever uttered. Sam was a dream nurser, he latched on immediately, and we got into a rhythm.  He was, as we say in our house, " A Boob Hound" like his younger brother, I stopped nursing him after 18 months. We joke now about how he would still be nursing if I had let him.  I always regretted weaning him before he was ready, and frankly before I was ready.  Being a first time mom, I let people and their opinions, and society in general get inside my head. Did it hurt him? No. Did it make him any less close to me due to not nursing him for as long as I wished? No. What it did do was give me a stepping stone. Something to learn, to grow.  I didn't stand up for myself or him, and because of that I have been so lax in setting a deadline with Hayden. Just as Sam's birth was a learning curve for the future birth of his brother, I learned from him and our experiences. We grew together, and I love him for that. As hard as I am on myself for allowing people to steer me in directions that I might not know will effect me down the road, he doesn't judge me, hell he doesn't even remember. Something about having guilt for things as a mother that we think will harm our children.  Sometimes we have to just let it go and learn who we are along the way, just as they find themselves.  We all grow together.

 Sam the day he blessed our lives in 2004

      Hayden will be three in July, I plan on nursing him until his third birthday at the latest, or until he gets bored with it.  I have been asked numerous times, by many people why I don't just cut him off,  including his pediatrician, who, when he found out that I developed mastitis a few months ago while we began weaning encouraged me to just basically get some cabbage leaves and call it a day.  To which I laughed it off, and continued to do as I did with my first son, nurse less and less until the milk just goes away.  No engorgement, no misery. 

      To be honest, I enjoy breastfeeding with every inch of my being.  I love being the only person that he wants at that time. To just have a few moments, a few times a day to reconnect, and gaze at each other.  I love the warmth of his little body against mine, I love how he laughs when he gets some milk in his eye, I love how he tunnels his hand up under my shirt so he can place his hand against my neck, I love how he loves it.  It is easy to just whip up my shirt before bed, and just lie there side sleeping/nursing until he slowly drifts off suckling.  It is a comfort thing, it is not a nutrition thing as he is older.  It isn't hurting him, it isn't going to leave him maladjusted in any way. I have received many a raised eyebrows about my extended breastfeeding, and also many pats on the back. I am not doing this for anyone except for myself and my son. Not to impress anyone, or disgust anyone else.

He always reaches up to make sure I am still there

Here he is, about one year old

Here he is on a day around five months old, I called in family sick because he wouldn't take a bottle due to him being sick. He only wanted the boob that boy.

See, shirt tunneling at it's finest (about two years old)

Seven months old, baby blanket firmly in his hold, gazing at mama


When Hayden was fifteen months old we weaned because I thought we were done.  I stopped nursing him for ONE FULL WEEK.  Then one night, as I was sitting with him giving him his night time bottle, he literally clawed at my shirt, took the bottle and threw it across the room, and then he suckled my, what I thought were empty, breasts.  Then all of a sudden he began swallowing. WHAT?!?!? What is going on here, I still had milk? I couldn't believe it. My sister walked in to find me nursing him, and both of our eyes were the size of saucers, both in disbelief.  I took it as a sign that perhaps we weren't quite done.  I started taking Fenugreek Supplement to help increase my supply, and nursed him as often as he wished until we got back on track. It was the best thing I ever did, and I don't regret giving into that little angry bottle thrower.  See, he wasn't quite done with me yet. 

This picture was taken the night he and I reconnected.  Contentedness at it's finest.

A few months later

It has not been all rainbows and fairies let me tell you...
We both had yeast within the first few months as he is a summer baby, I too had it with my oldest son.  I then had internal yeast which felt like pins and hot searing knives inside my breast which would cause me to literally double over in pain.  I had a slow supply in the beginning, and began taking Fenugreek (which worked like a charm), I work full time and would pump at work with a double pump that worked magically, but I could never let down well with a single pump.  He took formula in addition to my pumped milk if he needed supplements when I was working, but I provided plenty on my days home.  I developed mastitis twice, and was on antibiotics for the course. Nursing through it all helped me feel better quicker. We had our fair share of bites and nips, and aggressive nursing to which he received a stern talking to ;) and a yelp from his mama.

Some of our funnier shots:

 If you have ever breastfed while leaning over a car seat I feel for you.  Side note, if you have ever seen me or anyone else breast feed in a moving car, I too feel for you ;)

About three months old, smile nursing.  It's the best of the best!

Snackin' and Gazin' out the window at about seventeen months old.

Milk and Cookies, he literally just ate an Oreo, and came over for some milk.

Just chilaxin at about two and a quarter years old

Discrete nursing at the Baltimore Aquarium at almost 2 years old

Thinking about the day

Slowly drifting off to "nigh nigh"

Here is a picture I took this week when he went down for his nap. Who knows if it is the last one he and I will share, but I have enjoyed capturing our bond over the past almost three years.

For now I will begin enjoying his newest quirk, he caresses my face and stares in my eyes while he has his bottle before bed while I lie next to him listening the the lullaby station on Pandora.
P.S. Yes he still has a bottle, so shoot me ;)

I don't know how else to promote extended breastfeeding besides sharing my story. My only hope is that if you the reader can take anything away from this post it would be that breast feeding, just like number of children, and choice in spouse is very individual. It has to be something that the person doing it is comfortable with. PERIOD!

Thank you for reading my journey, please share the link with any breastfeeding mama you wish. Please keep the comments to positive ones~if you please.


Kathleen said...

Beautiful pictures! I plan to breastfeed my little guy as long as he needs. He'll be one this Friday. But already I'm being asked when I'm planning to wean him. Thank you for your post. It gave me encouragement to keep going as long as we both want and to not worry what others think.

Adirondack Patterns said...

Kathleen~that was so nice of you to say~congratulations on doing it as long as you have. Best of luck! Laura