Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Warning: too much information ahead.

Disclaimer: this entire post is about breastfeeding. If this is a subject you would rather not read about, you won't miss anything by skipping this post. I promise. You can just start again with tomorrow's post (which, I also promise, will contain cute baby pics), no hard feelings.

I have hesitated for a while to write anything regarding breastfeeding because so many people feel so strongly about it. Frankly however, breastfeeding is a huge part of my life right now and means a ton to me. It takes enormous amounts of time and energy to maintain, but I feel it's worth it.

So why write about this now? Because I've been sick. Being sick and breastfeeding at the same time sucks. I can't take many meds (most notably decongestant, ARGH!) I need about 50 times as much water as a normal human being. And when you get sick, your supply drops, your body chooses to use your extra energy to get well rather than produce milk. So I worry that Russell isn't getting enough to eat.

In some ways, breastfeeding is kind of ridiculous in that you have no idea how much your kid is eating. I mean, not only can I not see how much he's eating (boobs aren't transparent. Now THAT would be weird), but I can't pump and measure because I know darned well that he is a far more efficient breast pump than my Medela. Since the engorgement stopped I can't even feel let-down. If he wasn't such a messy nurser, I wouldn't necessarily know he was getting any at all! So unlike formula feeding mommies, I just have to trust him to tell me if he's hungry.

Over the last few days, he has not been shy about telling me just that. Often. (insert Pirates of Penzance joke here, go on, I'll wait...) Which tells me my supply is low as expected. However, it also makes me wonder if this might be the beginning of weaning. What if my supply doesn't come back? I don't know if I'm ready for that. I set out on this breastfeeding thing determined to make it to one year minimum (as per the American Association of Pediatrician's and the World Health Organization's recommendations) and Russell turns 10 months old next week. That's two months shy, minimum. If we really are starting to wean now... that ok for him?
...what do I need to do to make sure he still gets the nutrition he needs?
...have I failed?
...does it affect his psychological development? (nursing is not just nutritional, but comfort as well)

It's a lot to think about, and honestly, probably the second big decision I have faced as a mommy (see my post on daycare evaluations for the first). I mean, I know he'll turn out fine either way. Heck, if I turned out as well as I did on 1970's grade formula alone, he'll be a super hero on breastmilk AND modern formula!

It might all be moot. In 48 hours, my supply might bounce back and all will be well with the world until Russell weans himself or I have to make this decision at a later date. But it might also mean a huge shift in my day-to-day life, not to mention a change in my relationship with my son. Honestly, nursing isn't just a comfort for him...

It is something that means a lot to me and I have spent a lot of time thinking about recently. Just another piece of our life here that I thought I'd share.

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