Thursday, July 5, 2007

breastfeeding is not the only thing

I’m a leftist kind of mom: I make my own babyfood; I cloth diaper; I own five different baby carriers. And to suddenly have my child decide she doesn’t want to nurse has been a struggle for me, and not in just the expected ways. I am, understandably, concerned about when it is “okay” for me to stop breastfeeding—when it is that she’s gotten enough of the good stuff from me such that her health benefits are maximized. No one can seem to tell me this. The World Health Organization says one should breastfeed for two years, the national health blah blah says one year. My family practice doctor recently said, “oh, give it up already,” with a slight shake of her head and intonation that indicated I was being obsessive and ridiculous. Which is possible. I’ve been known to do that before on other issues. But this is my baby’s health we’re talking about! In any case, for the past month I have participated in this gymnastics of pumping and bottles that is less than convenient. The question is: am I indeed being overly conservative about this issue? Is there truly no longer any benefit to her getting her milk from me at this point? Does it really not matter? Because if it does, if there is some benefit to her, I can continue this hassle. There are worse things.

And there’s the emotional stuff—the fact that it’s hurt my feelings just a tiny bit. We had a good thing going; she would cry, I would pick her up, lie us down on the double bed in her room, which is also the guest bed, and when I lifted my shirt she would curl toward me. I was able to soothe her. It was a nice trick, this soothing ability, and a sweet snuggle during which she used her free hand to absently finger my shirt or my hair or the back of her head. Who says these things should be rational? Now when I lift my shirt she screams like the thing I’ve suggested is painful. Sigh.

A couple of weeks ago she was drinking her bottle of pre-pumped breast milk and started banging her head into my chest. I thought perhaps she wanted to nurse so I lifted my shirt. And she looked at my boob like she’d never seen it before. Just looked at it. She put her lips on it just for a second, pulled back, looked up at me, and giggled. Then she did it again—put her lips on it, pulled back and giggled. Hilarious. She really cracked herself up. She did this three or four times and while she was quite cute doing this, I did not find it funny. I’ve been replaying it in my darker moments.

I’ll get past it. She’s enormously healthy and there are other things I will eventually focus on, I’m sure. If she were adopted she would have been on formula from the beginning and I never would have worried about what she isn’t getting. Besides, the next thing we’ve got to work on convincing her to eat vegetables.

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