August 5, 2009

Confessions Of A Breastfeeding Mother


I just added it up in my head- I've nursed my children a combined time of 5 1/2 years. And of course I don't plan on Ivy weaning any time soon so I could make it into the seven year mark. I only took a very short break between nursing Gray (he breastfed 2 1/2 years) and having Ivy. He weaned a few months before I had her. (He even stopped for a while when I had really bad morning sickness and then started up again.) I admit that I know he would have nursed longer, but I found it to be difficult and too uncomfortable for me late in pregnancy. And as wonderful as I've heard tandem nursing can be, I also confess that I was ready to only nurse a newborn by that time.

One thing that I've always felt cheated about with breastfeeding is the "promise" that it uses up extra calories and the baby weight falls right off. I always keep on extra padding all over when I'm still breastfeeding. Especially in my arms and face. And then it's like right when they wean I finally lose those final clinging pounds. But I'm not really complaining because it is so so worth it.

I have never used a breast pump. I have never left my nursing child long enough that they needed a bottle. The thought of it makes my heart race and my knees shake. This is just me.

While I'm confessing, here's an embarrassing breastfeeding moment from a while back:

When Gray was just a newborn, hubby and I were at a wedding in a very large, old Catholic church. During the ceremony I needed to feed the baby, and since you could hear every little rustle or shoe click in that place, I thought I should take him in the back just in case he made too much noise. I walked into the first open room I found with a chair, sat down, and began nursing right away. I looked up, and to my horror- I was in the confessional! Now, I am not Catholic and have only seen these things in the movies, but I knew what it was and was afraid I would get thrown out of there if someone found out! I hopped up so quickly and searched for a less sacrilegious nursing area. When I got back to my seat I tried to whisper to hubby what had happened, but I got the church giggles and was laughing too hard! (This story originally published June 29, 2006)



Ivy has started to crawl up to me and ask to nurse and I love this age. She'll be busy and come seek me, and slow down and get in my arms. Sometimes I just sit there on the floor with her. Her eyes roll back. She plays with my hair, my necklace. She is comforted and so am I. So am I.


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53 comments:

  1. I held on to 6 extra pounds that did not come off until I finished nursing Aubryn. Because I work outside of the home, I pumped for almost a year. Not ideal but necessary. Nurse Ivy as long as you can. I was really sad when nursing ended with Aubryn.

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  2. That's dedication, mama ^_^
    I have left Gretchen a few times where she'd need to take a bottle, and I'm pretty thankful that she will do that.. though it's only happened a handful of times.
    I'm not really looking forward to her weaning.
    We've just started solids and I feel like it's the beginning of the end, though I know she can continue for years still at this point!

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  3. I wish all those stories were true about the weight melting right off. I exclusively breastfed my daughter to 9 months before I introduced any solids, and I struggled so hard to get the weight off. It's definitely not as easy as people make it sound. But I'd still nurse, no matter what, i love it!

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  4. When Aiden was a newborn I was in a wedding at a catholic church. He was only two weeks old so I was still getting the hang of nursing and I was in a bridesmaid dress. Needless to say I ended up in the confessional half dressed feeding my newborn. dont. feel. bad. haha

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  5. Wonderful. With all Jude's issues after his stroke I was unable to breastfeed very long. It's amazing how all your plans go out the window when something tragic happens. I enjoyed your blog today, thanks!

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  6. Steph, thanks for sharing this! I'm almost to my 7th month of nursing Ridley...doesn't seem very long compared to years, but I LOVE it. He's never had a bottle or anything...just me and I love it that way. People have asked me about weaning and the very thought of that makes me SO sad! I don't have a set time to wean...I'm just going to let Ridley wean himself?? Is that a good plan?

    You hear so much about losing all kinds of weight while breastfeeding, but a dr I talked to said that a lot women hold onto their weight until they wean. It makes a lot of sense to me.

    You are a blessing and inspiration!!

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  7. Steph - if it's of ANY comfort at all, you don't look like you have any sort of "extra padding" anywhere. Trust me.

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  8. That's funny! And as a representative of Catholics everywhere, I honestly think a confessional would be an ideal place to nurse during Mass.
    Let's see, if I add up all my nursing months (so far) I've nursed for 41 months. Woo that's a long time! And I'm starting it all over again in November. Wouldn't have it any other way, though...:)

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  9. A confessional sounds as good a place as any, if you ask me. I mean, would God really mind? :)

    You're a breastfeeding champ. I've been nursing for almost three years, with a five-month break during my second pregnancy. Like you, I get almost panicky when I think about my baby needing to eat -- I haven't really mastered nursing in public and my next goal is to learn how to nurse in a sling or carrier so I can go places for longer than two-hour intervals! And I loathe pumping.

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  10. With my daughter the weight totally melted off at around 9 months. It was awesome. This time ... not so much. I keep waiting and waiting, but my baby's a year old now and no luck. So sometimes it even varies from baby to baby.

    But I'm not complaining. Nursing my babies is an amazing gift and something I would do no matter the weight implications for me.

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  11. Even though I went back to work when BJ was 7 weeks old (gah!), I nursed him until he was 20 months old. He never, ever had formula, and for that I am proud. I became really good friends with that darned pump.

    It was so nice to be home with Mia and never have to worry about pumping or bottles. So nice.

    As far as the weight, I GAINED alot after I quit nursing BJ. We're talking 30+ pounds. After Mia weaned, I watched myself very carefully because it took me a LONG time to get all the weight off before.

    Kiss Ivy for me, and squeeze her sweet baby hands. I miss you both so much.

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  12. So sad I didn't get to meet you but it seems we hit different events at BlogHer.

    I'm with you. BlogHer IS really baby-friendly and I think most would not begrudge moms for bringing their nursing infants. But personally, I just wouldn't do it. There are so many extracurricular activities and parties where it just isn't appropriate.

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  13. P.S. This is obviously in response to your BlogHer write-up!

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  14. Not that I'm glad you can't lose the weight but I'm glad I'm not the only one! I'd think by now (my baby is almost 4 months old) that I wouldn't look 6 weeks postpartum, but alas, I do. It frustrates me but not so much that I even think of giving up breastfeeding. Thanks for sharing.

    And the bf story... hilarious.

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  15. I remember reading that story before - too funny! And I loved that stage too, when they are busy playing but can crawl over to ask to nurse. Heck, I love breastfeeding and am not ready to give it up any time soon!

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  16. I pumped about 80% of the time (9 months) with Zesty, and I don't regret it. It was the right choice for me at the time. This baby, though, I plan to nurse much more, only pumping for church, and also to nurse her through her second winter.

    BF'ing helped me lose the initial baby weight, but I put on 10 pounds 3-4 months after I had him. That's acceptable to me, though, so maybe I'll get lucky and this pregnancy/bf'ing will be about the same.

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  17. What a wonderful post! :) You are one dedicated Mama! I had a very good nursing experience with my 2nd son and hope to have an even better experience with my 3rd son. I tend to lose a WHOLE lot of weight at first and then whatever is left- will stay until I diet or exercise! The second I stop nursing- all extra pounds come back!!! :)

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  18. reading this post while breastfeeding. . . and wishing that this simple act would rid me of my extra seven pounds too. oh well.

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  19. Nursing At The Keyboard!!! I love reading posts about other mommas who have had awesome breastfeeding experiences and I thank you so much for sharing! Especially the church part, it had me laughing out loud. I tandem nurse a 6 mo. old and a 2 yr old! :)

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  20. Do you remember what its like not nursing? I'm proud of you. That is quite the accomplishment and I know I'll be calling on all my girls for help when I attempt to breastfeed for the first time in 8 weeks!

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  21. It takes a lot of determination and sacrifice to nurse that long. Good for you! I nursed my son for 14 months and the Baby is still nursing at 14 months. My oldest and I had issues so she never nurses, but I pumped for 6 months. THAT was exhausting and time-consuming...but what I wanted to do for my precious baby.

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  22. I start losing more weight when my period returns, that takes usually 6-9 months though. Then again I got pg right away when that happened after #1 &#2 so I really didn't get very long to enjoy it. LOL:D And as another Catholic here nursing in the confessional is OK (as is nursing during Mass), Mary nursed Jesus didn't she & I don't think He'd mind one bit? Also, if you see pictures of nursing moms at the Vatican they are nursing right out in the open, no worries.

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  23. I really love nursing too! It's our quiet time that we get to steal!

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  24. This is such a great post. :-)

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  25. I love nursing , its such a special amazing thing to do for both mother and child.
    I have been feeding almost non stop for over 4 years now (i had a 2 month break before my son was born) , i tandem fed for almost 15 months and loved every part of it. I was devastated when my dd2 weaned during my last pregnancy and i did not get to do it again.
    Im hoping my baby (same age as Ivy) continues for a few years yet , he will be my last and im not giving up without a fight.

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  26. So sweet.

    I too hold on to weight while nursing, except in my belly. I like to think it is just extra cushioning for the baby!

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  27. I totally agree about this "rumor" of pregnancy weight just melting away while you are nursing. I think at the beginning it seemed true, but then the rest of the weight didn't seem to drop until he weaned. My son weaned himself a week before his 1st b-day. I hated it and was so sad...I would probably still be nursing him now at 21 months if he would have let me. But he decided he was totally done and wouldn't even try. I kept trying for several weeks and he wanted nothing to do with nursing. Hopefully my next baby will nurse longer...sounds crazy, but I totally miss nursing my little boy!

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  28. Breast Feeding mamas are my heroes! That's great you BF your first for so long. I want to go for 2 years, or until he's ready to stop. First I should just say I WANT to breast feed!

    Happy world breast feeding week!

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  29. I want to hit people who say breastfeeding is the best diet! Cause it's not. It does not 'melt away' the pregnancy weight for all of us. My doctor finally told me I'll probably hang onto a lot of my extra weight (aka back fat) until I wean.
    But still, I'm not in a hurry. George is 18 months old and still enjoys nursing, and so do I.
    So, I guess I'll just have to wait to get back into my prepregnancy clothes...

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  30. I love this Steph. I am writing about breastfeeding tomorrow.

    I have pumped, but never for my own children. None of my kids have ever had a bottle and don't really even know what to think of them when they do see them.

    I don't go anywhere without my babe either. If I'm going to be gone longer than she will allow, she just comes with me. I think that's how it's supposed to be.

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  31. Oh yeah, and the weight SO does not come off of me. Whatever. I've been pregnant or nursing (or both) for 7 years and it is a real struggle to get any of the weight off.

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  32. I enjoy your blog and read it regularly. It's wonderful that you are able to get by without pumping or bottle-feeding at all. However, there are a TON of women who must work, and are just as dedicated to breastfeeding and who work HARD to pump enough to ensure baby gets only breastmilk. It's very easy to want to supplement with formula when you don't pump enough. But you get up at night, you pump between feedings on your days off, to ensure that baby gets only mama's milk. That also is dedication.

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  33. A confessional is just a room when there is no priest in there! I actually think it would be the perfect place to nurse in church. Our church (Catholic) has no nursery, no confessional, nowhere. I had to nurse with my cover on in the middle of church. I am one of those people that covers up for my own comfort, not others, so I did not like having to nurse in the middle of Mass. But it was what my girl needed. I miss the snuggling during nursing, as my baby (17 months) is not one to sit and snuggle now.

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  34. I just did the math and I've nursed for almost 8 years. If Miss Clara nurses until past 2 like her brothers have, maybe I'll make ten years! A decade of nursing...wow.

    I'm also not big on pumping. It's always seemed like a bigger hassle to pump than to just time my feedings and/or be gone less long. It did come in mighty handy when Clara was hospitalized, though. :)

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  35. I've never used a pump, either. The thought of it gives me the willies.

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  36. I hate pumping, but it's a necessarily evil when I'm working.

    My body also seems to be clinging to those last five pounds, but I don't mind so much right now because it's only been 6 months, and also I eat like a ferocious tiger.

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  37. With Luke, I held on to those extra ten pounds until right around when he weaned. With Tommy, I've lost ten extra pounds (DON'T PUNCH ME). It'll be interesting to see if those pounds stay out or if they creep back when he's not constant newborn nursing.
    I just so love the fact that you've never pumped. It makes me jealous because I wish I could be the same, but I like that you know how lucky that makes you.

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  38. I've come to the conclusion.

    I hate pumping..I thought I could do it, and I tried.

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  39. Your church experience made me laugh! When my little guy was born I first learned to nurse in public at church. I didn't use the cry area as it was full of kids (surprise, I know) and I wanted to stay with my hubby in our pew. I was telling a church employee about my figuring it all out and she told me to feel free to use the confessional if I wanted to. I guess part of the outside is a one way mirror and it has full sound so I could still see and hear, but would have total privacy. I never used it, but she really encourages new mothers to do so if it makes them more comfortable! So, no worries...it is God's house and he is on board with what you are doing :)

    Congrats on doing so wonderfully nursing. We planned longer, but due to a car accident my milk supply disappeared at about 6 1/2-7 months. We worked hard, but it didn't come back. Hoping the next one will go much longer!

    Heather

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  40. Oh that is so stinking funny. I am Catholic and I can picture it perfectly. You certainly would have given the priest a great shock if he were waiting for confessions. :)

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  41. i hear ya with the weight not melting off like everyone led me to believe.
    i love this picture...thanks for the inspiration to get some shots of bianca and i before this season passes.

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  42. This is SO not what the blog is about, but... I love the church giggles! I not only get them myself, I catch them when others get them too. I can't help it.

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  43. I love it! I miss nursing my daughter so much. I know that she and I would both go back to it in a heartbeat if we had that option. I never thought I'd be the mother that nursed for 20 months until I looked into those little eyes while she nursed and then I figured that college might be about the time I was ready to wean.

    Such dedication and love you have. I love that you nursed in a confessional!

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  44. i am so glad to have found you and this post. i have been nursing my baby for 21 months, and i see no end in sight. everyone tells me she is too old, its "weird, wrong, gross" to still be breastfeeding a baby who runs and talks and can just take it out when she wants it. did your baby Gray just stop on his own? how did you wean when you were both ready? i am not ready to wean yet, but dont have any clue how i will when i am ready, because my baby just looooves her "teta" and has a meltdown without it. thanks!!

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  45. Hey, Stephanie, I have been the same way in nursing my boys. . .none of the three would/will take a bottle, and we went for 2 1/2 years (maybe a bit more with Thomas). I don't care what anyone says, or the fact that I will never go braless again (ha ha), I love the bonding and nurturing that nursing gives my babies, and honestly, it one thing in my life I am very, very proud of. You go, girl!

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  46. I am the breast pump champion - my oldest couldn't latch on (palate issues) and so she was exclusively breastmilk-fed for 7 months without EVER latching on successfully.

    Will I ever stop bragging about this? Probably not.

    (and then I breastfed my other 2 kids for years, the end.)

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  47. Oi... I love this post - funny story and sweet girl climbing up and all of that. And I love breastfeeding, despite what it does to one's breasts perkiness-wise. I know that I will really miss it whenever we are really done having babies. As for me, I do lose the extra weight, but it is usually once my babies hit 25 pounds or so. But, darn it all, I never lose it from my arms. They just seem to bulk up. 'Must have something to do with the 25 pound babies in my arms. Ha ha.

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  48. congrats on more than 5 years of breastfeeding! what a special time it is. :) you made me pause and count it up, and between my three kids, i've been nursing for 5 1/2 yrs too!

    yay for world breastfeeding week! love your blog!

    if you have a chance, i'm having a little giveaway at http://www.larksongknits.com/2009/08/07/first-giveaway/

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  49. I totally agree with you and understand exactly what you are talking about! As a Mom of four myself, and over 7 years of nursing experience under my belt, I can relate to the weight situation completely, and I enjoyed your "confessional" story as well! :-)

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  50. I love breastfeeding stories... Too funny that you ended up in the confessional... :)

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  51. My older daughter had a hard time latching on the first few weeks, so I did a lot of pumping (and then feeding her from a medicine cup because we didn't want her to have nipple confusion with a bottle!). I felt like a cow hooked up to a milking machine (these are analogies that occur to you when you live in farm country). I think my husband may have even mooed at me once or twice.

    My second daughter latched on within an hour of birth, and is a champion nurser--she manages to empty me out completely within five minutes on each side! It's quite a contrast, but I have very fond memories of both. We haven't tried Gracie on a bottle yet, but I'd like to soon, if only for the knowledge that if I ever do want to, oh, get a haircut or something, I can do it without worrying about messing with her eating schedule.

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  52. What a beautiful post, Steph. And a beautiful picture.

    You have such a lovely way with words.

    Nursing is indeed special. I nursed my older daughter until almost age two and plan to do the same with her little sister (who is currently 5 months old...can you believe it?).

    I, too, never bother with breast pumps and bottles. I'd rather just keep my babies by my side.

    And I totally hear you on the "extra padding" for breastfeeding. That has been my experience too.

    stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

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