Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Breastfeeding inertia

I have been breastfeeding since time began.

Or at least it feels that way.

In reality, today is "only" my 1,215th consecutive day of nursing. That includes the 18 months between Chickie's birth and me getting pregnant, the nine months of pregnancy with Zoodle (still nursing Chickie), three months of nursing them both, and the last 10 months or so of nursing only Zoodle.

I once came across the phrase, "Breastfeeding makes my heart sing." This was probably sometime between Chickie's first birthday and me getting pregnant with Zoodle. I thought, "Yes! That describes how I feel!" I felt that nursing helped me bond with Chickie. The body also gives off the relaxing hormone oxytocin during breastfeeding, and that can be very nice.

But, folks, these days breastfeeding usually does not "make my heart sing"! I'm almost at a point of breastfeeding inertia--where I'm continuing to do it because it's easier than weaning, and because it's what I've done for so long. It's not quite at that point yet--I also like knowing that Zoodle is still getting good nutrition and Mommy time by nursing. Sometimes I feel a nice sense of relaxation while nursing, but other times, frankly, it's just a bother.

I find myself thinking about how much I'll enjoy my breasts being mine again. They've done a great job serving their practical purposes as milk production and delivery systems. But as wonderful as that has been, there's something to be said for shutting down the dairy farm and letting the cows enjoy their retirement.

So we'll see how long I'm kept going due to inertia and an intellectual awareness of the benefits. When I do stop nursing, it will be with the poignant knowledge that I'll probably miss it later, and that I'm unlikely to ever do it again. But I think it's a chapter of my life I'll be ready to leave behind before too long. I just hope Zoodle feels the same way.


*Monica said...

its so hard to say officially "I am done" It felt like a loss. But I totally get the wanting your body back part too.

Good for you for keeping it up for so long. Long termers like us are rare!

Kara said...

Lizzy and I are just about at 11 months of nursing, so I haven't been at this nearly as long as you have (pumped for Abby, and only for 4 months), but... man, I am so ready to be done. We'll finish out the year before we start weaning, but otherwise, what you wrote is so how I feel - sometimes I still like it, sometimes it feels like a bother, and mostly I feel like procrastinating on weaning because it sounds difficult. Lizzy still nurses at least 8 times most days, and I'm just spent.

Heather said...

Sounds to me like The Lord is weaning you from the love of nursing...quite the thought, huh? He knows your heart and knows what you need, in order to make that transition.

Oh...I remember all of the sweet blessings of nursing...and weaning :o) - another one of those sweet-tart seasons of mothering.

My season, now, is the transition from home to preschool in the fall...{sigh}

Sue said...

I know the feeling! I breastfed my first for about 16 months (she self weaned). My second child had to be forced to wean at 20 months (she got to the point that she enjoyed it a little too much, if you know what I mean- I didn't think it was appropriate to be getting felt up on one side while she ate off of the other). This last baby is still being nursed (just at bed/naptime) and I am not sure how long we will go. I'll probably see how things go this summer, she could be like my first and just decide she doesn't need it any more.

However, I will be sad knowing that it will never happen again. I know I will miss it and I am SO glad I chose to do it, even with working full time. It has been one of the most rewarding and fullfilling things I have done.

I LOVE the phrase, "Breastfeeding makes my heart sing". While there are lots of times, it doesn't, I absolutely agree!

Anonymous said...

I believe breastfeeding is a wonderful gift a mother gives to her child that has health benefits that last throughout that child's life. Good for you!

Our Scoop said...

I think that you are wonderful for doing this for so long! At 18 months with Andrew, I was ready to be done though :) You are great to still be doing it!!

caryn said...

Wow 1,215 days! I'm only starting month 13 but she has already self-weaned herself off the middle of day feedings so we are down to just morning and nights. I thought I would only nurse for a few months but I really love the bonding time, I don't miss the middle of the day feeding but I know I'll miss the morning and night ones once they are over!

Eternal Lizdom said...

I nursed my daughter until she was past 2 years old. I was pregnant with my son and at about the 2nd trimester when she weaned. I then nursed my son until he completely self weaned at 15 months. I wasn't really ready for him to be done... but I'd also wanted another co-sleeping baby and that was soooo not his thing.

I was so very at peace with it when he weaned. Because it was on his terms. He'd gotten what he needed from me. Same with my daughter. And their nursing styles well match their personalities. My daughter is far more dependent and needs more attention while my son is more independent and laid back.

You've done great to be so committed for so long!!

C. Beth said...

Monica--Thank you! I'm glad I've done so much nursing; it's just that I'm not AS glad on a day-to-day basis as I once was. :)

Kara--WOW. I'm lucky; Zoodle is nursing about 5 times a day most days. Not too bad.

Simply Heather--I love that idea--that God is weaning me from the desire to nurse! Thanks!

Sue--Wow, congrats on extended breastfeeding even while nursing! That's fantastic!

Sandra--Thank you! I am so glad it's worked out so well for me.

Our Scoop--Yeah, I imagine if I go to 18 months with Zoodle I'll probably be ready to be done. But we'll see!

caryn--Just mornings and nights--that's great! Nice way to keep it up without it taking over your life. :)

Liz--I think I read your blog post about weaning--and it sounded like just the right time. I love that. I hope that's how I feel when Zoodle and I are through (even if it's not child-led.)

Unknown said...

Wow--I wish I could have held out for that long with the other 2...hoping to do well with this baby...My girls tend to give out for some reason at around 3 months and stop producing....even with fenugreek, etc. Good luck with the whole process!

Knitted_in_the_Womb said...

Hmmm...I never stopped to figure out how many *continuous* days I breastfed...

I nursed my first for 14.5 months, then weaned her because I was pregnant and just couldn't deal with it anymore.

My second weaned at 19 months old...just barely 1.5 weeks before her little brother was born--can I count that as a continuous period from one to the next? LOL!

I nursed my first son for about 18 months...then he fairly angrily self-weaned at 18 months because I was pregnant and my milk had dried up. As I say...he was angry about it--how dare *his* nursies not have milk in them!

I nursed my 4th child for about 30 months...so that would be the longest true continuous stretch--about 1800 days.

Then I got a break of nearly 2 years before baby #5 came along...and she's now 6 months old.

I can certainly relate to the feeling you have--I had it back with my first baby. But I have to say, after I weaned her, I missed having that comforting tool. I'm glad the others nursed longer.

But yeah, I want my breasts back. Unfortunately I'm told that it might take a few YEARS after weaning before they start to have "intimate sensation" again--never came back after #4 weaned. For now...hubby enjoys them, but I couldn't care less whether they are involved in a tumble in the sheets.