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My Unexpected Journey

Erin Brown
Wisdom MT USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 2, March -- April 2007, pp. 61-62

For as long as I can remember, I wanted children. I envisioned a smooth pregnancy, my baby latching on immediately following birth, and a successful nursing relationship that ended somewhere around the six month mark. Never did I think I would be facing the challenges of mothering a nursing toddler.

My daughter was born crying, and it seemed as though she didn't stop for five months. Our nursing relationship got off on the wrong foot. I became severely engorged, which, along with cracked nipples, led to a severe case of mastitis. The result of all this was Haylee drinking several of her first feeds from a bottle. I tried to get her back to the breast, but ended up using a nipple shield for two months.

Haylee has never been much of a comfort nurser. The only time she nurses for comfort is in the middle of the night, or when she is very sick. She never falls asleep at the breast. We are a bit different than most nursing dyads in that respect. She was colicky, and has always been a high need baby, but as Dr. Sears puts it, she also isn't a cuddler, so she was one of the more difficult high needs babies. She never melted in my arms, never wanted me to rock her to sleep, and never wanted to sleep next to me.

Haylee has never loved to nurse like I expected a baby to love to nurse. It has always been challenging. I wanted to have the kind of nursing relationship where we could both drift off to sleep from the warmth our two bodies created, and from the bond that runs so deep. I loved nursing Haylee, but it was rarely what I had expected.

The only times breastfeeding was what I'd envisioned it to be was when she woke up in the night, and my supply wasn't as abundant (I dealt with oversupply issues). Then I could (and still can) gaze down at my little nursling in awe of how I nourished her exclusively in my womb for nine months, and how I continue to nourish her from my breasts. These body parts, which had always been the epitome of sexuality and beauty, are the reason my little girl is thriving. When Haylee latched on for the first time, I couldn't believe that it was possible to find my breasts not sexual at all. Sensual, yes, but not sexual, in any way.

Here we are, just past the one-year mark. I am not ready to wean her, and I know that she isn't really ready yet either, but I believe she is closer to it than am I. She rarely asks to nurse anymore, but when she gets crabby, if she decides to nurse she is usually happy again.

I went back to work part-time when Haylee was five weeks old for 20 hours a week. My husband or the daycare provider stays with her in our home. I pump three times at work, four days a week, to provide her with my milk while I am away from her.

I do wonder how long I should keep pumping and what stopping would mean for my milk supply. Everyone tells me I should wean her. But I am in no way going to rush my little girl into weaning. This has been an amazing journey, and I'm not in a hurry for it to end.

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