The Evolution of my Breastfeeding Goals

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about how your breastfeeding goals have changed. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

It’s been about 6 years since I entered the realm of motherhood (including pregnancy) and one of my clear cut goals from the beginning was to breastfeed my child(ren). Such a simple thing has evolved through the years, gradually becoming more specific and then less.

I started off with wanting to breastfeed at all. Before Peanut was even here, I knew I didn’t want her to have formula at all. I also planned, as many moms seem to do in this country, to wean at one year. I had the logical-to-me plan that I would “have my body back” for a year or so before getting pregnant again.

After Peanut arrived, I realized a year simply wasn’t as logical as I thought. Why would I work so hard to establish this relationship and give myself such a useful parenting tool only to throw it out at an arbitrary age? So I decided I would let her decide when to wean.

It was around this time that I also set a “goal” of tandem nursing. I saw all these more experienced moms in La Leche League meetings tandem nursing and thought it would be wonderful. I remember expressing as much to one of these moms once and her reacting by basically saying I may not wish for it in the end.

Well I got my wish. I got pregnant with Twig shortly after Peanut turned two and nursed her all through pregnancy. While it wasn’t horrible to nurse through pregnancy, it also wasn’t my most favorite time period in our nursing relationship. I kept telling myself it would get better after Twig was born.

Well it didn’t get better, it got worse. Peanut’s intense personality combined with my postpartum depression and I was not only unhappy nursing her, I absolutely loathed it. What’s more, I loathed her for wanting to nurse so often. Four short (or long, depending on how you look at it) months into nursing two children at once, I weaned Peanut.

I felt horrible guilt over not letting her wean on her own, but I also felt immediate relief. Our relationship healed and Peanut didn’t even seem too disturbed about not nursing anymore.

Twig, of course, continued on nursing. I was sure she would wean on her own, just given the difference in personality. Twig always loved to nurse, but never with the intensity that Peanut did. Even when I got pregnant shortly before Twig turned two, I expected to continue nursing through pregnancy and possibly even try tandem nursing again. But around the beginning of my second trimester, Twig simply stopped nursing. It took me weeks to even realize it had happened and when I did realize, I felt pretty devastated. Had I taken away the chance to wean on her own again by getting pregnant (along with night weaning and delaying nursing during the day because it was so miserable in the first trimester)?

I realize now that there is no right time to wean. Yes, babies absolutely need their mother’s milk and even older children benefit greatly from it, but if my three year old doesn’t continue to nurse, that doesn’t mean I somehow failed. Every child will wean in their own time, but not just in their own time. Life will influence it. There’s more to a child weaning than some magical age at which they’re ready.

So now my goal is to nurse. Simply to nurse. Yes, there are more facets to the goal than that. I won’t give my baby formula (or likely even expressed milk in a bottle, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing). I will make sure my baby’s gut is mature before solids are introduced. I will work my hardest to continue my nursing relationship if my toddler “tries to wean” before two years. But, all of these are sort of givens at this point for how I parent. In the end, it boils down to I will nurse. When we are done, we will be done. Who knows when that will be, and it’s okay not to know.

I think that’s the thing about parenting. In our adult-only lives, we can nit pick every little thing. We can schedule ourselves to the minute and make decisions that are final. It’s only when we add children into the mix that schedules must be thrown out the window and goals must be revised. Children are so complicated and wonderful and unique, it’s impossible to come up with a one-size-fits-all plan for any facet of parenting, breastfeeding especially.

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

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