Archive for July 10th, 2008

Anna asked the following question:

I don’t understand why you have to quit nursing…I know several people that have continued to nurse during pregnancy…..

In order for me to get pregnant, I will have to return to Ye Old Fertility Clinic.  In fact, as I’ve stated quite clearly in my posts, I will be pursuing IVF (with single embryo transfers!).  Before the fertility clinic will even start testing to pursue a new cycle, I must have stopped breastfeeding. 

Yes, fertile myrtles breastfeed during pregnancy.  People who get pregnant while nursing without Assisted Reproductive Technology continue to nurse while pregnant.  It’s not for lack of trying that I’m not pregnant right now, but you know what? I’m not a fertile myrtle.  As I’ve said before, it took five years, twenty thousand dollars worth of treatment, a late miscarriage, and a vast error in judgment on my doctors’ parts to get my triplets.  I have no guarantees that I will EVER get pregnant (and stay that way) again.  And I don’t know how long it will take if I am able to achieve pregnancy again.  Waiting is an option, but for how long?  And at what cost? 

So yeah, I could nurse while I’m pregnant.  If, you know, I could GET PREGNANT.  You know, if only that tiny little detail weren’t so darned difficult for me.

Edit: Anna, sorry for jumping all up and down you.  It’s not the question I have a problem with.  It’s the tone you take with your questions… in my blog and elsewhere.   You might consider that next time.  Thank you for your comments on this post; they’ve helped give me a little more perspective.

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My babies are nine and a half months old.  Do you know what that means?  It means they are rapidly approaching a year.  How is that even remotely possible?  How did this happen?   With the rapid approach of their first birthday, and the dramatic changes in their eating patterns recently (much more solid food, much less milk intake), I’ve been sadly collecting my thoughts about … (*gulp*) weaning.  Ohmygosh.  Just typing that word makes my eyes brim up with tears.  I never thought I’d be this attached to breastfeeding – particularly with triplets.  While I’ve grown a little tired of my pump (Maggie Moo),   I’m not sure I can imagine the day I actually decide to put her away for good (until the next time?).  In fact, the very thought of it, though I have thought of it, makes me physically ill. 

Nevertheless, the time is coming and will be here sooner than I know it.    There are some things that I’ll definitely miss.

Sam, no matter how frantic he is beforehand, will snuggle right in and calm down immediately once he finds exactly the right position.  Lately, though, he’s taken to wanting to nurse in the MOST awkward positions:  his most preferred position is to be kneeling in front of me, which isn’t comfortable for me AT ALL; if he can’t kneel, he wants to lay on his stomach facing me… I don’t know if you can QUITE imagine how awkward a position this is, but trust me, it’s awkward.  Still, once he’s settled, he snuggles and snoozes and eats to his heart’s content; he’s so lovable, it’s hard to deny him this simple pleasure, even if it IS very uncomfortable for me.   Lately, at night, he’s fallen asleep nursing, and I know they say never to nurse a baby to sleep, but it’s so yummy, and I don’t care what "they" say, it works for us.

Ellie, despite all her problems in the beginning, is no longer failing to thrive.  She’s a champion nurser and so much calmer than her brother.  While Sam will frantically and voraciously climb toward me, Ellie patiently waits for me to be ready, but then eats like it’s her last meal ever!  She holds my thumb with her little hand while she’s nursing and doesn’t let go and she crosses her little feet down  on my other side and it’s so adorable.  When she’s done, she’s so drowsy and calm and beautiful I sometimes just stare at her until I realize how much else I have to do, but I never feel like I’m wasting time staring at my precious baby.  This is time I earned, after all.  This is time I begged for.  If I don’t enjoy it now, time may slip away and I’ll miss it all together.

While I rarely nurse them together anymore – they’re too big and unwieldy and seem to prefer the individual attention anyway – the times when I do it I realize that it truly is something I should do occasionally, because they are so precious together.  They each eat at their own pace, with their own style, but together they form one unit, as their hands find each other in the middle.  When they grow tired of holding hands, sometimes Ellie will place her hand on Sam’s head and just hold it there; if she moves it, he starts to fuss and doesn’t calm down until either her hand is replaced or their hands find each other in the middle again.    The same thing happens if I nurse one on one side and bottle feed Abby on the other side, if I lay her down football-style on the side of my lap.  It’s a thing of beauty, really, to see them so attached to each other.

Even Abby, though she doesn’t nurse, gives me reason to pause.  She still shows a true preference for my milk versus formula, which gives me the strength to keep pumping, even on the days when I can’t figure out how to fit it in.  I find the time, because I know little Abigail loves my milk and drinks it happily, while fussing if given formula.  While I’m sorry that I ever had to do any supplementing at all, I know that I did the best that I could.  Abby almost never gets any formula anymore, because her preference gave me the strength to re-double efforts to pump and pump often, no matter what.  Sam and Ellie do still get supplemented some, but far less than they used to, particularly since their volume of milk intake is going down now that they’re eating three pretty sizable solid food meals per day. 

All of these things make it very hard for me to even consider weaning a possibility.  I so want to just let them dictate to me when they’re done.  But I admit, it’s getting harder, and with everything going on with the J-man it’s even harder still.  So, my guess is that I’ll be shelving Maggie Moo in late September, and slowly (oh so slowly) moving Ellie and Sam to a point where they don’t nurse at all after that.  I’m sure I will sob and sob when the time comes.

I’ll miss the time I have with my babies.  I’ll miss the closeness and the snuggliness I have with my babies.  I’ll miss knowing that my body isn’t, for once, betraying me, but rather, finally doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing.  I’ll miss being able to directly nurture my babies – Oh I know I’ll still nurture them in a myriad of other ways, but it’s different, and you know it, too.  I’ll miss knowing that I can, in an instant, fix all the world’s ills at least in my son’s universe, just by moving my shirt up and letting him snack.  I’ll miss being their favorite.  I’ll miss watching them snooze on my lap in a milk coma.  I’ll miss all that and more.

Still, there are things I won’t miss…

Have you ever heard of Raynaud’s Phenomenon?  It’s something I’ve dealt with all my life, but I never actually thought much about it.  Until, you know, I gave birth.  Did you know Raynaud’s Syndrome can affect you while breastfeeding, too?  Ouch.  I won’t miss that.  Seriously, it bears saying again:  Ouch.

I won’t miss the constant battles with thrush that we had for the first six months.

I won’t miss the several bouts of mastitis that I had.

I won’t miss that mysterious pain that I had several times that no one ever managed to explain (though I didn’t mind seeing the young, hot OB/GYN to help diagnose…or fail to diagnose… the problem).

I won’t miss being bitten, or scratched, though I know that the babies don’t intend to hurt me.

But I’ll still miss it.  And I’ll still be so sad when we move on to a new chapter of our relationship.  I cannot believe that they are old enough for me to even consider that word.  That evil W word.  And if I didn’t so desperately want another baby to share my love with, I might not even be willing to consider that horrible word, but I know that everything I do in my life is a choice, and a matter of balancing options.  You take some bad with all good, and for me, nursing has been a world of good.

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