If you didn't see my original second-trimester post, it's here.
I don't necessarily want to repeat that post, so I'll keep this one short (I think). Mostly, things are the same physically, except that I feel, emotionally, a lot better about everything.
1. It still hurts.A lot. I've been favoring one breast over the other, because it tended to hurt less — lately, they've both been hurting equally. I guess I helped that one catch up?
It's a stabby, cringey pain. I try to blow my breath out on latching and intentionally relax. Good Hypnobabies practice for birthing, I suppose!
It feels better after he's latched on, but never fully comfortable. I can't sleep through it, for instance, and I yelp if his latch gets lazy. I mostly nurse in very conventional positions now, to ensure that he's stable. I also remind him not to wiggle around — or, if he does, I make him come off the breast until he's repositioned himself.
One thing I've noticed — but don't know how much stock to put into it — is that my nipples are particularly white when they come out and hurt the most, particularly on the more tender side. I was diagnosed with Reynaud's phenomenon when I was about 10 — I have circulation issues anyway, and when I experience a change in temperature, my fingers and toes will sometimes go completely white and bloodless and feel numb. I had never witnessed a Reynaud's attack in my nipples, though I knew Reynaud's of the nipple happens to others during breastfeeding. My breasts have changed during this pregnancy, which surprised me, since I figured all the hormones that could go through that area already had, given that this is my third pregnancy and I've been nursing now for almost four years. It's possible that this nipple blanching is a new manifestation of Reynaud's — or that it's a bad latch, which was another thought of mine. Mikko's latch looks good, but I can't go on whether he's getting enough milk out or how good it feels — since neither's happening.
2. Mikko has not weaned.Not even close. He seems to want to nurse more. I've been putting more time limits and using distractions a lot.
I pretty much never nurse in public anymore, because it seems like just too much of a spectacle: a pregnant woman and a three-and-three-quarters-year-old. I don't want to think of breastfeeding a preschooler as abnormal, and I don't, but I know other people do. My aversion to wanting to nurse at all (see point #1) makes it easier for me to refuse. Our compromise is that he always follows me into public restrooms and has "nummies on the potty" — a quick two seconds on either side. It's a compromise that works for both of us, so I'm fine with that. Unless there's an automatic flush. Then he kind of freaks out. (Please, auto-flush manufacturers, have some pity on us moms of preschoolers who run away from loud flushes!)
His latch still seems, from the outside, to look good (but see above about the nipple blanching). It will be interesting to see how much he will want to nurse (and how much I'll let him) when the baby arrives and my milk comes in.
3. I have colostrum.Speaking of which, my colostrum started at 25 weeks, first in the breast I've let him nurse on more and the next day in both breasts. It's pretty watery (kind of a milky-clear rather than the thick yellow I remember) and not leaking spontaneously — it doesn't come out for me except when I squeeze.
I was so excited and showed Mikko and asked how it tasted. He was pretty blasé about the whole thing, told me it was fine. I don't know, then, if he's really tasting or ingesting any or much; whatever the case, it hasn't put him off nursing (fortunately). It also hasn't affected the discomfort level for me (unfortunately).
He's had a few colds recently (the dangers of preschool), including one with a fever and one with a persistent cough, and I was glad to think that maybe some of my antibodies were getting into him again.
4. I feel much less guilty.In some ways, I feel like this is easy for me to say, because my child hasn't weaned, whereas I know some nursing mothers who really wanted their children to keep breastfeeding through pregnancy but either the children self-weaned or the mothers couldn't abide the discomfort and led the weaning. I really wanted Mikko to breastfeed through pregnancy, and now that we're so close to the end, I'm feeling like, "Yup. He will. Huh, what was all my worry for?" But that's like saying, "The U.S. never had a nuclear war with the Soviet Union; pretty silly of us to have worried about that!" It could definitely have gone the other way.
I don't feel bad anymore (much) for refusing to nurse him when he's clearly just bored, or rolling him off me at night before he's fully fallen asleep. I feel like we've both adapted — that he knows I'm sore, and that he has other things to do/eat/drink besides nummies. And I know that my own needs and feelings count for something, particularly this far into a pregnancy when there's a lot of discomfort for me all around.
Also, as he gets closer to being four years old, I get closer to expecting him to wean. I know he's not firmly on that path right now, but every day brings us nearer. It still makes me feel a little weepy to think of it, but I know he'll figure out when cutting down feels right for him — and, anyway, I have a new baby to nurse who's on the way.
The strange corollary to this is that I feel a lot less like a martyr when I do allow him to nurse. I own it as my choice at that moment, and I feel good that he's had that comfort to see him through this pregnancy.
5. I don't know how tandem nursing will go.I'm of two minds about this (ha! tandem minds!), because on the one hand (head?), I like the idea of smoothing over for Mikko the jolt of adding a new baby into our lives. I haven't fully processed the idea, so I'm sure it will be quite a shock for him when this baby takes over our house and never…goes…home. Just yesterday, I was trying to imagine a newborn here, in my living room, in this glider with me, and Mikko climbing up with us, and it was all such a novelty to my brain. I doubt Mikko's even gone through those imaginative steps.
On the other hand, I'm already feeling touched out by Mikko's insistent requests for nummies in pregnancy — how am I going to feel when I'm cluster feeding a newborn? How will I feel if both of them wake in succession all night long for the newly reopened milk bar? We had this idea to transition Mikko to his own mattress, or to Sam's other side, or even to his own room, but none of this has happened. (See the next point below.) If the baby's on one side of me, and Mikko on the other, I could definitely see a drive to nightwean Mikko if he decided to renew his nighttime nursing (but see below as well).
6. Bedtimes are still awful; sleep's OK … for Mikko.I mentioned in the earlier post that one of the consequences of not having milk anymore is that Mikko's sleep schedule got thrown out of whack. He still refuses to fall asleep unless we all go down with him. Sometimes even then (lights off, sound machine on, Sam and me quiet and drifting), he'll stay awake and fidgety for an hour, kicking us in the face and talking loudly. I'm so annoyed and frustrated by this I don't even want to go into it all here.
We've tried waking him up earlier in the mornings so that he'll be tired at the appropriate time at night. ("Appropriate" meaning, at least a couple hours before I drop from exhaustion so I can get some relaxing done with just Sam. As a night owl myself, I have no ability to relax in the mornings when I get up earlier than Mikko.) The result of this seemingly foolproof plan is Mikko is super groggy in the morning, super cranky all day, and then super wired in the evening and on into the wee hours. I cannot figure it out. He'll fall asleep in the car at 2 p.m. (therefore ruining his bedtime even further) but not if we're out at 9 p.m. and optimistically think, "Oh, he'll fall asleep, and then we'll just transfer him inside!" We've tried wearing him out; we've tried taking him outside all day (hard to do in the rain, though); we've tried calming him down gradually at night. Nothing.
I don't mean for this post to be about bedtimes, though, so I'll stop and just say that it's frustrating. It's made any bigger changes to our sleep arrangements moot at this point. We're basically just trying to get by for now.
I actually have a Master Nesting List whereupon I have written all the myriad tasks I want to accomplish before Earthdown of Baby B. On the top is "Get Mikko to sleep consistently by 10 p.m." Sam scoffed when he caught that bullet point.1
But, as for sleeping itself, Mikko generally nurses to drowsiness and then finally — finally — goes to sleep. And he typically doesn't wake up again to nurse until morning. So that, at least, is much like it was before my milk dried up. I'm hoping he can keep that habit going even after the milk's back in, so that I'm not nursing two kidlets all night long and having to swing back and forth from one to the other — or, alternatively, having to do some hardcore nightweaning of Mikko right off the bat.2
So, Mikko's been sleeping all right once he's been sleeping, except when he's sick. I, on the other hand, am in the throes of third-trimester insomnia: up to pee, can't get back to sleep, then sleep in too late. I remember this from when I was pregnant with Mikko. I didn't like it then, either.
All right, I don't know if that was short after all, but I didn't think too hard about it. That's what counts, right?
If you've already been through a third-trimester breastfeeding experience, how was it for you? If you're considering breastfeeding through pregnancy, is this update more reassuring or still not so much?
1 It took a few days for me to post this, because I couldn't find a suitable copyright-free picture, so I had to recruit Sam to take one. Wouldn't you know — in that time, Mikko's gone to bed without our going down with him for three nights in a row. Amber says it's the Curse of the Internet. Which means I'm not sure how posting this addendum is going to pan out.↩
2 Along the same lines, because he's been going to bed earlier but I haven't, he's been waking me up earlier than I want to and wanting to nurse for, like, an hour. Ah, well.↩