So even though zero of you have asked me to write a post about breastfeeding, I’m going to do it anyway because maybe someone out there in blogland is getting ready to go on a trip and leave their baby for the first time and will find this encouraging and helpful. Also, I don’t write letters to my children on the blog or take those monthly photos with the age stickers and the carefully curated outfits and backdrops, so someday when my kids are on the internet and come across this blog, at least they’ll know how much I loved them when they each read their own personalized TMI breastfeeding post. (And also how much I cursed and drank.)
My goal for breastfeeding was always to “make it” to a year or whenever the baby called it quits. (Kenzie was done at around 11 months.) I (naively, perhaps) never assumed I’d HAVE to breastfeed past the year mark.
But here I am, breastfeeding a practically-toddler and flinching a little every time I read or hear things like, when the child can walk over to you and ASK for milk, maybe it’s time to stop. (Honestly though, I haven’t personally encountered much negativity about breastfeeding at all.)
I said in my last post that I thought it would be safe to take an adults-only vacation when Codie was 15 months old. Oopsie! But the kids actually both did really well with my parents and Codie didn’t have nearly as much trouble falling asleep without her boob fix as I thought she would.
I had the BEST PEOPLE ON EARTH babysitting my kids. They never let the baby cry, and they were willing to sit up and rock her for hours and hours if that’s what it took. (Though I don’t think it actually took hours and hours.)
I’m in a breastfeeding support group on Facebook (Kellymom, highly recommend!) and I asked for advice on whether I should try to wean her before the trip, or just hope things would be okay for three days while I was gone. Everyone recommended NOT weaning, as long as our caregivers were willing to take extra measures (rocking, babywearing, snuggling at all hours of the night, etc.) to comfort and soothe her and help her get to sleep without crying. I knew she’d be in good hands, so I didn’t even try to stop nursing before we left. (I knew there was a chance she’d self-wean while I was gone, but that didn’t happen. She asked to nurse as soon as I walked in the door.)
I was a little nervous about having to pump for three days, especially since Codie hasn’t had a bottle in ages and pumping has never worked that well for me. (For instance with that fucking machine, I’d pump for half an hour and just get drops.) But I decided to just be relaxed about it. I’d only pump for 10 minutes at a time, and only when it was reasonably convenient– I didn’t want to have to throw down my fork in the middle of dinner and run off to the nearest bathroom because OH SHIT 7 P.M. PUMPING TIME! Sometimes I was able to pump out 3-4 ounces, sometimes I got less than an ounce. But I pumped enough to keep a decent supply and now that I’m home, I haven’t had any issues.
Things that helped me:
- Obviously, my kid being 15 months old and already a pro at solids and sippy cups. I didn’t need to leave milk for her caregivers or SAVE the milk I was pumping to bring back. (It would have been alcohol milk anyway.)
- I only nurse from one side now. Yeah, funny story. So I completely lost my supply on the right side a while back when I injured my rotator cuff. I inadvertently favored the left one for several days because it hurt my shoulder to hold the baby on my right arm. Then one morning the milk was just kind of gone. I briefly freaked out about it and tried to pump to get the milk back (didn’t work) before I realized she was getting plenty from the one side anyway. Now I have one big boob and one little boob, but otherwise it hasn’t caused any problems.
- I wasn’t REALLY worried about losing my supply. Like I said, the kid is 15 months old. She’s not on a feeding schedule that requires I pump XX ounces each day, so I could afford to keep things casual.
I used the manual pump, carried it around in my purse and dumped the milk when I was done. And again, only having to worry about one side was a real time saver. I never felt completely emptied, but I never got painfully engorged or plugged up either.
There was one time I had trouble pumping because I was in a public restroom and just as I was getting a good pump going, a lady entered the stall next to mine and started throwing up and just like that: no more milk. But for the most part I didn’t find it that much of a hassle.
I think my supply did drop a little bit, but Codie is sleeping through the night now (KNOCK, KNOCK) and she still gets plenty of milk. And I guess I’m really not in a hurry to quit. I’m sort of trying to keep her a baby for as long as possible. Codie is definitely, definitely our last child and sometimes that’s a difficult reality for me.
As a sidenote\tangent\postscript, I don’t think marathon training has had any affect on my supply at all. I take a ton of water and calories during my runs and I really don’t need any help in the “refueling” department if you know what I mean. Right before I stopped breastfeeding Kenzie, my supply plummeted when I was violently ill and didn’t eat for almost 24 hours, but I don’t think exercise makes much of a difference.
That’s all! Tell me: did you read this whole thing or just scroll and look at the pictures? I’ll understand.