Saturday, August 3, 2013

Breastfeeding Alrik at two years old

World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center

Welcome to the World Breastfeeding 2013 Blog Carnival cohosted by and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center!

This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.

World Breastfeeding Week: Mikko's weaning story == Hobo Mama
This year's World Breastfeeding Week theme is Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers. In that spirit, I'm sharing my stories in the hopes of contributing to the dialogue about real-life breastfeeding experiences.

Breastfeeding Alrik at two years old == Hobo Mama
Nursing one crown prince at Alrik's joint birthday party with Mikko
This post is my State of the Union address on how nursing my second-born is going. I don't find as much to say about it on a daily or weekly basis, because it just is. But I will attempt to elucidate and evaluate:

Smooth sailing

The good news is, everything's mostly just great. We haven't encountered any major nursing problems (mastitis, clogged ducts, nursing strikes, tongue tie, low milk supply, etc.), so I'm one lucky ducky. Alrik's got a good latch still, the milk's flowing, I don't have nursing aversion with him (the way I did with his older brother before he weaned), and I'd long established a routine and wardrobe for easy nursing.

How much and how often

As for frequency , he's nursing many times a day and at least a few times a night (more on that later). He nurses more often if I'm around and he's not otherwise distracted; in other words, if he's bored. Sometimes, if I suspect that's why he's asking to nurse, I'll set about distracting him if I'm not in the mood. I feel fine about that. If Sam or I think he's thirsty, we might also offer a drink of something else. His longer nursing sessions are going to bed, going down for a nap, waking up from a nap, and waking up from his nighttime sleep, when he has to have both sides and actual milk flow. The ones during the day otherwise are usually much quicker and can end as soon as something else catches his attention. Of course, if he's distraught about something, nummies are very soothing.


Speaking of which, Alrik has stopped calling them some sort of dolphin-speak of "Hnhyee, hnhyee" and now can say "Nummies" clearly if he wants to. But he often just goes for "Other one, other one!" very insistently (even if it's the first one), as that's apparently what I must have said often enough when I asked if he wanted to switch sides.

Nursing in public

I'm still nursing Alrik in public and not thinking too much of it. It's occurred to me since his second birthday, though, that I'm past the generally accepted age for nursing in this culture, even in live-and-let-live Seattle, and that I might want to be more discreet about it — mostly just because I don't want anyone raising a stink about it or making either of us feel uncomfortable. As we're visiting family this summer, too, I recognize that in different parts of the country, we're even more out there, and I don't relish being the family's object of curiosity. For now we'll keep going, but I bet we'll be tapering off public feedings as he continues to grow.

Breastmilk and growth

Speaking of growth — there hasn't been much. Sigh. He's a healthy little kid, but the emphasis is on little. He's just over 22 pounds still at 26 months, which apparently is not on the charts for weight; his height is about 35th percentile, which is odd only given that his father and I are both tall. Leave it to me to have two kids at opposite ends of the growth spectrum. I'm thankful that the breastmilk he's getting is high in calories and fortified with all the nutrients and good bacteria he could need in addition to his meals. He's not a very picky eater, thank goodness, though he eats like a bird — not the real kind that eat their own weight in food daily but the metaphorical kind that make their parents want to chase after them with bites of yummy, yummy worms and stuff them in their beaks. Again, metaphorically speaking.

Nighttime weaning

I have to admit, I've tired, literally, of the nighttime wakings. I'm ready to cut way back and possibly even night wean. My patented (not really) side-lying nursing position is not even enough to help me sleep through nighttime nursings anymore. I just get too achey in one position. Blame getting older or crotchety or both or something else, I don't know. I just know I want to be able to turn over and not have someone attached to my boob.

So…I've been working on some strategies. For one, I talk to him about it: "We're going to have nummies, and then you need to go to sleep." We lie down and nurse, but when I think he's had enough from both sides, I unlatch and pull up my shirt. I have been known even to cross my arms or make other no-trespass signals on occasion. If he's upset, Sam's been helping me out by taking him to sleep on his chest, sing to him, and do a little back scratching or bouncing. If he's really upset, back he comes to me and we start over. But, the good news is, he's been taking to it better and better, and he now expects to be detached at some point and have to fall asleep without a nipple in his mouth. During the night, he's been getting better at staying asleep, with some reminders from me if he wakes up too early or is annoying me when I'm trying to sleep — again, with Sam's help taking over if needed. I even have had to go downstairs to sleep on the couch if Alrik's been feeling really persistent, but that's helped. He's mostly down to nursing before sleep, then again for the hour or two before he wakes up, and that's a decent compromise for me at this point. Naptimes are a different matter — it can take me an hour or more to get him to let go without waking back up, mad! That can be my next target.

Looking ahead

Sam and I have been talking about having another baby, and I really don't want to nurse during pregnancy and tandem nurse again, after my challenging experiences with both. But: I also don't like the thought of weaning Alrik before he's ready, considering I gave Mikko five long years. It's a conundrum.

I'm come to terms with the idea of mother-guided weaning, but it just doesn't seem like Alrik's primed for it. I've hesitated on doing anything intentional up to this point. I'm wondering if, during any pregnancy, I can gradually reduce his breastfeeding sessions so that the weaning can be a sort of mutual decision — initiated by me but accepted without protest by him. We'll see, I suppose. I think I can take nursing during early pregnancy, but I believe my milk will dry up again, and my nipples will be sore again, so it won't be pleasant. Maybe those factors will help both of us make some changes, however. I hate to say it this way, but I'm not getting any younger, so I don't want to put off trying for too long. Plus, giving these boys another sibling is a longer-lasting gift than being able to brag about how many years I let one kid nurse before weaning. We'll probably wait a little while longer and then just go with the (no-)flow.

Like I said, though: conundrum. What I'd like ideally is something that doesn't really exist (a time machine to start having children earlier? a self-weaning two-year-old, which apparently I don't breed?), so I have to work with what I have.

For now, we're continuing on and enjoying our closeness. He's such a sweet little being, and I love that he loves his nummies and his Mama.

World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center Visit and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center for more breastfeeding resources and WBW Carnival details!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Below are a list of links for today's participants; you can find a complete list of links (updated throughout the week) at our main carnival page:

(This list will be updated by afternoon August 3 with all the carnival links.)

  • Breastfeeding and NIP: A Primer — Rachel Rainbolt of Sage Parenting, featured today at, uses her informative and candid voice to share with you everything you need to know to breastfeed successfully in public, from the practical how-to's to handling the social stigma.
  • Lactivist Ryan Gosling — Breastfeeding mamas, the time is long overdue for a Lactivist Ryan Gosling. Fortunately, Dionna of Code Name: Mama has created some for your viewing pleasure.
  • In Defense of Formula — Amy of Mom2Mom KMC, guest blogging for Breastfeeding in Combat Boots, asserts that formula is a medical tool rather than a food. She examines how this perspective supports breastfeeding as normal and eliminates the negative tensions between breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers.
  • World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - Breastfeeding Tips & Tricks — Throughout her breastfeeding journey (since March 2009), Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy has shared countless tips and tricks on the topic of breastfeeding.
  • Nursing in the Wild — Meredith at Thank You Ma'am posts about how seeing other moms nurse can make all of us more comfortable with nursing in public.
  • Normalizing Breastfeeding — Sara Stepford of The Stepford Sisters confronts the social stigma vs. the reality of breastfeeding and opens up about the steps she takes to make herself and others more comfortable with the process.
  • Breastfeeding Alrik at two years old — This is where Lauren at Hobo Mama and her second-born are at in their nursing relationship, two years in.
  • Perfectly Normal — Stephanie from Urban Hippie writes about the way she and her family have done their part to try and normalize breastfeeding in a society that doesn't get to see breastfeeding as often as they should.
  • Diagnosis: Excess Lipase — Learn about excess lipase and how to test if your expressed milk has it. That Mama Gretchen shares her own experience.
  • Redefining Normal — Diana at Munchkin's Mommy reflects on how we can normalize breastfeeding in our society.
  • Nursing Openly and Honestly — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work feels that the most socially responsible thing she can do as a mother is to nurse and nurture her children openly, honestly, and with pride.
  • Wet-nursing, Cross-nursing and Milk-sharing: Outdated? — Jamie Grumet of I Am Not the Babysitter shares a response to the Wendy Williams quote about milk sharing being akin to slavery, by giving a brief history of the wet nurse.
  • Tackling Mastitis with an Older Nursling — Much of the advice available for supporting recovery from mastitis seems to be aimed at mamas with younger nurslings. Juliet of Twisting Vines, posting at Natural Parents Network shares tips for dealing with mastitis while breastfeeding a toddler.
  • Milk in the eye — Gena from Nutrition Basics discusses how breastmilk cured her 3 year old's case of pink eye.
  • Boobie Biter — Rachel Rainbolt at Sage Parenting offers guidance on how to survive and thrive a boobie biter with your breastfeeding relationship intact.
  • My take on breastfeeding advice — Diana at Munchkin's Mommy shares her insights on nursing for both new moms and new dads.
  • My Top Five Breastfeeding Tips for Delivery Day: Think "A-B-C-D-E"Mothernova shares how her continued success at breastfeeding with her second child rests on a foundation of five key things she did to prepare for baby's arrival, along with things she did when she and baby first met. Easily enough, these tips can be categorized as "A-B-C-D-E": Access to lactation consultant, Baby-friendly hospital, Communicate your plan to breastfeed exclusively, Demand, and Expect to room in.
  • Breastfeeding Buddies: Twin Brothers Nurse while Living in the NICU — Twintrospectives at How Do You Do It? shares her 5 tips for learning to breastfeed multiples while in the NICU.
  • Breastfeeding on a Dairy-Free Diet: Our Journey and Our Tips — Finding herself nursing a baby with food allergies, Jenny at Spinning Jenny embarked upon a dairy-free journey with her son for eight months. Here she relates her reasons for making the decision to give up dairy in her diet, why it was worth it, and tips for moms on the same path.
  • Normalizing Breastfeeding in my Home — Shannah at The Touch of Life shares how she plans to help keep breastfeeding normal for her own children, even when her breastfeeding years are over.
  • A Year With My Nursling — The more you see and hear, the more normal it becomes, so That Mama Gretchen is sharing her heart on the last year of breastfeeding - the ups and downs, but mostly the joy of her priceless relationship with her son.
  • From Covered to Confident — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births shares her personal NIP evolution: she started by covering up from neck to ankle while nursing in public. Eight years later, she has gained confidence and the ability to nurse without stressing about flashing a little skin. She shares her views on normalizing breastfeeding - what influenced her and how she hopes to help others.
  • Normalizing Breastfeeding for Older Kids — Sadia at How Do You Do It? hopes that openly discussing breastfeeding with her (now weaned) daughters will help her children feel comfortable with breastfeeding and their bodies in general as they grow.
  • Nursing in Public — Listen up, mammas. Those other people around . . . they don’t matter. It’s not about them. It’s about you and that beautiful baby. Nurse on, says The Swaddled Sprout!
  • How to Nurse a Teenager — Sarah at The Touch of Life declares: the purpose is to help normalize breastfeeding a toddler.


Lyndsay said...

Loved this. Brings back so many beautiful memories for me. Sharing it on this morning's round up.

Erin Violet Taylor said...

This is wonderful! You are such an awesome mama, and I love hearing stories about you and your kiddos. Way to go for giving Alrik such an awesome gift!
I'd love to see your family have a new member (does that come off as weird? It sounded better in my head XD We're all friends here, right? Haha)! I'l totally come out and hang out with your boys while you adjust to the new baby, no charge : ) Haha.
It would be cool to see Alrik become an older brother! I love that you pointed out that a sibling is a long lasting gift, and something both boys will enjoy; although weaning might be difficult in the present, a new brother or sister would be something sweet to have forever! No worries. As it is, you've given Alrik over two years of amazing nummies! Whatever happens, you are still an awesome Mama.
Have you read this post from Mayim Bialik? I was thinking of it when I read this..she talked about night weaning her younger son, and she mentioned having help from her older son, which I thought was interesting. Maybe that would make it special for Mikko, too? To have a special job? I have no idea. She lists her weaning strategies and whatnot, so I thought it might be useful. Enjoy! New baby..haha..I'm excited XD

Christy said...

This post also brings back memories for me. My youngest, now 3 1/2, was very similar to Alrik at the same age. Now she is only 27 pounds, so still very tiny. And yes, I do wish I had a time machine to be able to start having kids younger. I would love a fourth, but I don't have it in me. I love my slowly returning freedom, which surprises me. Once my youngest weaned (at almost 3) I found that I was able to channel all this unused energy into a new project, a new baby, if you will. I am so impressed you made it to 5 and persevered through tough parts. I developed a nursing aversion with each child and couldn't make it though so weaned, and was ok with that for the same issues you are facing. I wanted another baby.

Olivia said...

Wonderful insight. My second is 15 months and I'm feeling really ready for night weaning, but that could just be because we just came out of a growth spurt and he was nursing every couple of hours. He's now back to once or twice a night so it isn't so bad.

In regards to possible weaning Alrik before or during your next pregnancy, it seems logical that once you've done something and you know it was really rough, there is no reason to do it again. I know, for me, there are a number of things I am or will do differently with my second child based on the experience and knowledge I have now.

Anonymous said...

I love your story! :)

We are hosting a link party for all things breastmilk to build a list of posts and resources for preggo and breastfeeding mommas out there. Come link up any relevant posts:

Thanks for sharing!

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