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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Defining moments

It is incredible to know that my body built Roscoe from scratch (with Andy's help, he wanted me to add), nourished him, grew him, and gave birth to him, and then sustained him exclusively for the first 6 months of his life. I did all that. me.

Before Roscoe was born I had a lot of questions about breastfeeding. They weren't focused so much on if I was going to do it, or how I was going to do it, but more on how it would feel to do it, and whether or not that level of intimacy would be weird. As for logistics, I was under the impression that breastfeeding was a natural skill inherent to mothering, and I more or less pushed away the awkward thoughts I had about putting baby to breast in favor of waiting to figure it all out when the time actually came.

I'll admit that when my midwife asked if I would like to try to nurse, just minutes after Roscoe was born and before my placenta had even been delivered, it did feel a little awkward to offer something so personal to this itty bitty person that I couldn't hardly recognize but, I was curious to see what he would do.

At less than 10 minutes old, Roscoe did what came naturally to his newly born self, and with that first latch we began what may be the most defining, demanding, and deeply satisfying aspect of our relationship.

I had my midwife's number on speed dial those first few days. It was fortunate for me that she is a lactation consultant and former La Leche League leader. She taught me a lot about nursing. The primary lessons? Nursing satisfies a baby beyond hunger and A baby's wants are a baby's needs. Nursing is more than feeding.

I've since written many a post about nursing and over the past 19 months I've had the pleasure of experiencing a full range of conflicting emotion. In reality, we had a rough start, the dedication required to exclusively breastfeed was almost more than I could take at times, and for many months I could only dream of my former freedom and independence.

Around the ten week mark we finally clicked as a momma/nursling pair and nursing was as easy and convenient as I had imagined it could be. But it was more than that. Magical. (Wow, would I have used these words to describe nursing before I had experienced it?) It satisfied my hunger to nurture my son in a way that only nursing could, and the act of it alone met every one of Roscoe's physical and emotional needs. Before Roscoe made his debut I was well accustomed to achieving and doing--a way of being that made it difficult for me to transition into the new realities of motherhood. Nursing forced the opportunity to take breaks in our busy days and connect with each other. The physical and emotional demands remained, but it was around this time that I began to own my new role and nursing mother became part of my identity.

I never set out to nurse Roscoe for a specific amount of time, but I had hoped to make it through the first year. The idea of nursing a toddler didn't seem crazy to me, but it wasn't something I could relate to either. By the time Roscoe turned one he wasn't just a toddler, he was my toddler. Continuing to nurse was a given for us.

When I found out I was pregnant with Little Sears, Roscoe was 14 months old and blame it on the hormones, but within a month or two my experience nursing had changed from a pleasant and easy going activity, to one that elicited an antsy and uncomfortable full-body sensation. There were days where I had to cut our sessions short because I just couldn't stand it. On several occasions I convinced myself that our last session had been our LAST session. These feelings come and go still, but obviously we're hanging on. I think the biggest pressure to wean is that I find it hard to imagine the logistics of juggling the demands of a nursing newborn coupled with nursing to meet the emotional needs of an active toddler. Tandem nursing isn't something that I readily identify with although I know it is an option.

So, I've been fretting over this decision, quietly and passively. Stewing really. Contemplating the situation without wanting to take action. Once I became pregnant, Roscoe weaned himself from four evenly spaced daily nursing sessions to just one. All that remains is his nurse-to-nap at 11:00 am every morning. It's a nursing that means a lot to him, but I've not convinced myself that he needs it, and I've equally not convinced myself that I have good reason to take it away.

In perfect timing I attended a La Leche League meeting on Saturday morning. Oh, sanity-saving, norm altering, reason-inducing LLLi, how do I love thee? More than I can ever express.

La Leche League has been my oasis in a societal dessert of general breastfeeding non-support.

As I listened to a room full of mothers share their questions and experiences nursing their children, I found myself offering advice and nodding my head in agreement. I identified with each of their stories--our experiences mirrored theirs, and theirs ours. Yes, for the first time I even saw myself in the woman who breastfed her giant 2 1/2 year old three times over the course of 2 hours. When it was my turn I shared my uncertainty about how to move forward with the baby's arrival on the horizon, and I heard the process that others went through and their personal reasons for why some chose to tandem nurse while others did not, and how it actually played out for them once the second baby was born.

I realized that if we are content (which we are), there's no need to force a change on an otherwise mutually satisfying relationship. A lot can happen in four months. Roscoe may make the decision to wean on his own. If not, I've released the pressure on myself to do anything in particular in order to generate a specific outcome.

I'm Roscoe's Momma and right now our relationship involves a comfort nurse once a day. Everything will be OK. As for my concern that Roscoe will revert to wanting to nurse more often once his little brother is born? Come what may. If so, I guess I'll have become one of those Momma's. The evolving experience of nursing my son has certainly changed my attitudes and norms about nursing in general. No longer do I extend an awkward smile at the sight of a nursing toddler, instead it makes me happy to know that those two are lucky enough to still benefit from and enjoy an essential relationship that will forever be uniquely theirs.

7 comments :

  1. What a fantastic post. I feel the same way as you on so many of your points - especially since I'm in the midst of trying to ovulate and return to fertility... but what nags in my mind is that at the forefront I am Allie's mom... NOT mom to another non-existent child and it's so tough to wean her when she's all I have. Good luck in the next few months - I hope that whatever path you and Roscoe chose that you are happy with the end result and it sounds like you are. Being a mother definitely changes a lot of things, especially our "attitudes" to societal norms. If you end up tandem nursing, so be it!

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  2. I wish my LLLi, was not so far, I have not even signed up as the meetings are a 1.5 hour drive and more than I could in the begining at least imagine doing with a baby. My nursing experience with Madame has been so love/hate, if we were not dealing with reflux that I am now convinced was/is caused by an over supply and over foceful let down I think I would feel a lot differently about nursing. Luckily I have found information online that is helping me tackle the over supply and the let down issues.

    I look forward to the next month or so as she will start to eat solids and I have to say I look forward to her dropping feedings but I don't look forward to her stoping altogether and even though my period is back and therefore I am pretty sure I am ovulating the thought of getting pregnant again and maybe taking the nursing relationship away from Madame seems so selfish to me. So as much as I wanted at least the first two to be very close in age I think Madame won't have to worry about sharing her food supply any time soon.

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  3. So much of this right now is such an abstract concept. I'll ake the classes, I'll check out LLL, but until Hen gets here, my brain pretty much defaults to "later".

    And for today, I'm ok with that.

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  4. Maiden: It IS totally abstract until the baby arrives. Even then it's such an adjustment--or at least it was for me! I didn't invest any time in prepping to breastfeed. I didn't read a book, or take a class. Out of all things related to a new baby it was the one thing that I assumed would come naturally. Not so much! I had no idea when I was first starting out how meaningful and important the nursing relationship would become for us. I certainly didn't envision us then in the place we are now. I currently struggle to merge what I previously considered as "normal" (nursing a kid to age 1.5 or so) with the current path that we're on--one that otherwise feels right. Everyone has their own imagined limit, for some it might be 3 months, or 1 year, and I would guess that parenting in general requires all of us to rectify our ideals with our reality. That can sometimes be the hardest part of parenting!

    There's nothing wrong with waiting for your baby to arrive to decide what feels right, get a good support network organized (even if it's just a list of local resources to contact if/when you have questions or feel like you need help) and honestly the person with the biggest impact on our success as breastfeeding moms is often our husbands :)

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  5. Even after being through it once before, I have a tough time wrapping my mind around the fact that our bodies are built to grow and nourish humans! It is just such an amazing concept! It makes me so proud to be a woman. And it even makes me love my wider hips and lumpier tummy (when I'm not pregnant) because of all my body has done for me and my children.
    You are doing everything right for your child...you're his mom, so you determine what is best for you and him. There is no need to feel pressure to do anything differently.

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  6. Love this post. I always knew I wanted to nurse ... it was THE most imporatnt thing to me. And also, the biggest concern. While I was pregnant I was always so scared: What if I can't do it? The first weeks were terribly difficult but .. it got easier. And like you said, I think we've finally reached that moment where we CLICK together as a mama/daughter nursing pair.

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  7. I love this story. Another blog article this morning had me reminiscing about my own identical situation. I weaned my oldest gradually at 2.5 years. I was pregnant and I remember crying at a LLL meeting about the discomfort I was experiencing and the realization that we would need to wean. I was sad for him, and sad for the image I had to release of tandem nursing. I will never forget the circle of women – their eyes, full of understanding and empathy, fully present even while tending to their young children. I walked away from that meeting filled with support, encouragement and ideas to help make the transition smooth and loving.

    Weaning did go very smoothly and it surprised me. And there were actually no tears. After a number of nursies to a count of 10 (which is all I could tolerate), he just sort of shrugged his shoulders and said, “no thanks.” And yes, I relate to what you said about the meetings. Such a quiet cove of support and camaraderie. For many years I would walk out of those rooms refreshed and energized and ready to openly embrace whatever motherhood had for me. LLL was a sanity-saver during those years.

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