Sunday, August 21, 2011

As quickly as it began, so it ends

Almost two and a half years ago, my beautiful girl was born and I immediately began nursing her. She instantly was a nursing pro and I was so proud--- great latch, the whole nine. But of course there was the screaming, the reflux, only nursing in certain positions and nursing for LONG periods of time. . . All in all, it was her comfort and to be honest, it was my comfort too. With my husband out to sea, living overseas, and with a newborn that screamed day and night, it was comforting to have SOMETHING that would quiet her for a little bit. My initial attempts at elimination diets did not work (I know now that I wasn't likely eliminating for long enough periods of time) and the doctors and lactation specialists kept identifying me as the problem. Too much foremilk, vegetarians can't have enough hindmilk (I set my milk out on the counter to watch it separate to test this theory. Let's just say my daughter has been ingesting cream from day one!), nursing too much, overreactive first time mama, etc etc ad nauseum. At five weeks old, I finally was signed up to have the visiting nurse come to our apartment to help with B. She left before the session was over, looking frightened and said there was nothing she could do for us. I never got any calls back.

Fast forward to the first FPIES reaction. My amazing friend who helped me through much of the breastfeeding process was the first to tell me that my plan of weaning by 12 months was not a realistic one. She told me that I needed to do whatever I could to maintain the nursing relationship, to encourage her to nurse when some mamas were trying to encourage their babies to wean to formula. So as months went on and I tried more adjustments and B failed more foods, it became very evident the role breastfeeding played in our lives. For both of us, it was a lifeline. It did feel strange to be nursing 8-10 times a day at 12 months and then at 15 months. We certainly got some looks, especially after moving back to the states. But again, this was what B needed and as all of you know, being a parent takes you to a different version of yourself, a version that does not give a flying fig what someone else's judgement is on your care of your child, if you know in your heart that what you are doing is best and is necessary.

We have been through a lot together. I am quite certain that half of the world has seen at least one or likely both of my breasts. (Coverups were just a recipe for disaster with this kiddo!) I am not certain that I have not been photographed with cell phones while nursing in public. I have nursed on planes, trains, beaches, sidewalks, at restaurants, temples, shrines, parks, grocery stores, and in front of random buildings. I have mastered the art of holding an infant parallel to the floor while nursing and walking with a bounce in my step so that she will settle down. We have an affirmed elimination diet in place that took many many months to hammer out and I know that if I stray from it, a reaction hits.

But tomorrow night will be the last night, the end to this complex, beautiful and often harrowing relationship.

I am scared. Maybe terrified on some levels. We just found out that the Splash is likely the cause of her random vomiting and her diet is far from complete, so going without a formula is out of the question. But as I watched her nurse tonight, I knew it was time. We will figure this out, we will build a supplement if we need to. We are lucky that there aren't a ton of holes in her diet and it wouldn't have to be a complete formula that we would need to build-- just like a customized version of her own pediasure or something similar.

I won't talk about formula for now. I won't talk about plans for the future, or what we lack or what we don't lack for B. Tonight I just want to quietly say goodbye to this facet of B's babyhood, B's growing up. For all of you mamas out there feeling the pressure from others to stop nursing, or that there is "something wrong" with your milk, or feeling your confidence eroded by what allergies do to our children and the guessing games we have to play, please know this. Everyone has different situations, circumstances and the like, but I will always look back on the decision to nurse and the decision to nurse for as long as we did, as the best decision I have ever made for my daughter. There ARE resources out there to help get most families through to a successful nursing relationship, for as long as that relationship needs to be in place. We have been thrown for quite a few loops to say the least, but the most basic, wonderful thing I could provide for her was what I was fortunate enough to be able to do. And I "grew" one incredible, amazing little girl.

1 comment:

  1. Awww Amanda I started to tear up when I read this because I know what a journey this had been for you -this was a beautifully written post and will be so nice for B to read later on in life - it describes the special bond between the two of you. Good luck getting through the days - thinking of you! xoxo Megan