Friday, March 23, 2012

Formula vs breast vs . . . everything else

Today my article "Our Formula Feeding Journey" was published on NPN. Oftentimes, I have mothers say to me, "Well, I would like to AP or NP but I need to use formula." I'm surprised at this admission not because they use formula but because they think one thing will "kick them out" of the AP/NP world. Attachment or natural parenting isn't about the "things." It's all about the attitude people! You can use a bottle and AP. I know. As my article proves, I've done it.

This article is especially timely because Cole just weaned. Adam and I went on a five day trip alone. We needed the time alone to reconnect and we wanted to do something special for our ten year anniversary, almost 18 years of knowing each other and getting out of the "survival mode" we have been in for four years. We did not take this trip lightly. As very attached parents, we don't typical leave our children for long periods of time. Yet we know that the best thing we can give our children are loving, sane parents and that are children are not newborns. They are old enough to leave with other loving, attached caregivers for a period of time.

As Adam reminded me before we left, Cole is now almost 2. He is the longest baby I have nursed and, honestly, neither of us expected him to be nursing at 23 months old. (Cami weaned around 21-22 months.) I knew that Cole might fully wean while we were on our trip. I also knew he might pick up when I got home. I was okay with either scenario and savored our last night and nap time nursing sessions.

While we were gone, I opted not to pump. First, I didn't have any pumping supplies! I donated all my leftover tubing, bottles, bags and sterilization items to a co-worker of my husband's. She needed it much more than I did and I didn't want them hanging around the house if someone could use them. I also would have nothing to do with the milk. I HATE to "pump and dump." It KILLS me to see all that milk go down the drain. I also didn't want to mess with pumping in and of itself and traveling with milk- milk that Cole probably wouldn't take anyway. And, to be honest, my supply was dropping and I don't think I would have gotten anything anyway. I chose to let nature take it's course and hand-express if I needed too.

As it was, I was engorged and a little sore but nothing horrible. I never leaked. I never needed to hand express. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and I needed to take sudafed for my allergies. I know from experience that this dries me up a touch. When I got home, Cole never asked to nurse. I put him to bed that night without nursing. When he woke up at night (after sleeping all night for my mother- thanks kid!) he flopped around in the bed, as if he remembered we did "something" in bed... but wasn't sure what. The next afternoon, he shocked me by launching himself into his nursing position when I sat at the computer. I said, "okay but I don't think there is any more milk." He latched on and immediately began gulping! I still had milk!

That night, I had to go to church because my CCD students were being Confirmed. Adam put Cole to bed and he woke up at night, but did not nurse. That morning, he was sick and tried to nurse but it reminded me of nursing him when he was a tongue-tied newborn. I heard alot of clicking and felt some "biting." I finally had to latch him off. He cried a little, more from his fever (I think) and frustration than anything else. I comforted him, gave him some water and he hasn't asked since.

Can I declare him weaned? Possibly. I don't know if he will ask again. I'll let him try (unless it is the middle of the night) and see how it goes. Am I sad? A bit. I enjoy nursing and I am sad that this period of my life is ending. But I am not going to dwell on it. You know what? Just like with Georgie, I worked DAMN hard to nurse this kid. I pumped for two months and took him to two different doctors to get his tongue tie clipped. I tracked diapers and feedings and weight gains. I thought he would never nurse from the breast and that he might not have more than two months of BM. And we made it TWENTY-THREE MONTHS. WE DID IT. How awesome is that?!

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