So, it's now been a full 10 days of the nursing strike. I can tell you I've come a long way in that time and am finally, finally (!!!) feeling some peace about it. Before I go further I just wanted to say that part of the reason why I decided to go into detail on my blog about this stuff was because as I was dealing with the strike and trying to find info from other mother's online I wasn't finding a whole lot about babies the same age as Eliana. It's my desire that if another mother finds herself in my shoes that maybe she'll find this and not feel so alone.
Ok, so here we are 1 1/2 weeks out and I feel completely different than I did last week. To be honest, I was depressed last week. I didn't even want to leave the house much less go to the grocery store or run errands. I didn't really go anywhere or do anything. I showered every day (although one day not til 4pm) and I fed my family and kept up on the laundry, sort of. I just couldn't wrap my head and heart around being a mother without breastfeeding. It's a lifestyle and especially after you've done it for so long. I had no idea when Elly was only a couple months old how much it would become a part of my life and my identity as a mother. I was devastated every time she rejected nursing and it felt like she was rejecting me as her mother. I prayed and prayed and prayed, "God, please remove whatever is blocking her from wanting to nurse. Remind her that she loves it and that it's comforting and won't hurt. If you won't make her nurse again, please give me peace." Well, the week went on and she was not nursing and I had no peace. I was miserable and going out of my mind. I even forgot to make Craig's lunch for work a few times so poor guy had no lunch!
I think it was about 2 days ago I woke up and felt different, like I was me again. Like I had the Lord's peace. Eliana still refused nursing that morning and had a few times the night before, but it didn't bother me that morning when she said no. I just chuckled, said ok, and put her down to play with a sippy cup. I am still feeling that peace and I'm so thankful. Her abrupt nursing strike was honestly one of the hardest things I've been through and if you know my life you know I've been through a lot!!!
I think I have peacefully come to the realization that we are done nursing. Can I keep pumping for 2 months in the hopes that she'll go back to it? Yes. Do I want to do that? No. I feel that the peace I have is my answer on what to do. I need to come to grips with it, not beat myself up, and move on. I need to learn to mother without breastfeeding. It's hard for me to think that I won't be a part of the community of breastfeeding moms. For those of you who have stuck with it and been long term nursers you know what I'm talking about. It would've been nice if I could've had a gradual wean, but things out of my control changed that. I have tried all the advice I could find and tried multiple times. Her reaction is always the same; she shakes her head no and moves away from me.
I have been pumping about 17oz a day and she happily drinks it so I'm sad she'll lose out on that....but on the other hand I am not willing to keep pumping. I will keep going til Saturday when she is officially 14 months and then I can say she nursed til 14 months! After that I need to do a little research on the best way to help myself dry up without getting clogged ducts or something.
As a matter of business I feel like I should reiterate that children under 18-24 months who abruptly stop nursing are in a nursing strike and there typically is a cause (ear infection, teething, mother yelped when bitten, cold sore, etc). VERY RARELY it is self weaning. I can't even tell you how often someone says that a 5 month old baby is self weaning. This is not happening! Nipple confusion, too many solids, teething, etc, are to blame. A young infant will not self wean but can often go on strike. Please see the La Leche League site for more help. http://www.llli.org/ There are resources available, you just need to reach out. I am so thankful for LLL and my sweet leader, Katie.
On another note, something else that has been on my mind is how God knows my heart. I have been going through this pretty much every day in my head, "what am I going to do at my dr's apt after Christmas? They won't give me Clomid (med I need to conceive) if I'm breastfeeding. But I'm not willing to wean Elly just so we can try again. But on the other hand I don't want to wait to try again. But I don't want to wean!" and back and forth it goes. I have prayed a couple times about it, although not nearly how I should have, but even without me saying it, God knew I was really struggling with this decision and what to do. I even thought about lying to the dr and telling her I'm not breastfeeding so she'd write me the prescription (I know other mom's who've taken it while BF but their docs are in Tacoma). But clearly lying to my dr is not the safest, or most Godly, route. God knew I couldn't make a decision and had this in the back of my mind driving me crazy. He made the decision for me. Could he have had Eliana go back to nursing? Absolutely, it's within his broad range of power. Did He maybe choose to have this strike be the end so I wouldn't have to choose? I think so. So in that way, I'm thankful for how things went. I can go see the dr in a couple weeks and know that I can get prescriptions without lying to the dr or forcing my sweet angel to suddenly wean against her will.
What a road life is. Many things are out of our control. We do what we can with what we've been given. Eliana seems to have a stubborn streak and that is just part of her personality. She is pretty mild and gentle most of the time but I'm seeing that when she makes up her mind about something, don't mess with her ! :) Back when she was a tiny baby she refused to take a pacifier. We tried many brands and it was a no go. One dr suggested using my clean finger on the roof of her mouth so she'd suck and calm down during the months of colic. Well, that did help (slightly and I do mean 'slight'ly) and every little bit of help I took. So, instead of a paci she took my finger. Of course this was inconvenient as I had to keep a finger clean no matter where we were (think shopping carts, eww) and I always had at least one hand tied up. Well, on Mother's Day we were in church and she had just been dedicated to the Lord. We were sitting down in our seats and she was half asleep sucking on my finger, happy as a clam. Later that day she was fussy and tired so I offered my finger and she refused! Pursed her lips and never wanted it again, ever. I remembered this story the other day and realized that she is stubborn once she's made a decision. I can only hope that as her mother I can help direct this tenacity in positive ways through the years!
Well, here I am again, always making this longer than I intend to. I just feel like I have so much in my head. On a good note, since Eliana is not nursing Craig has been able to put her down for bed. I'm glad that he is able to do this and it gives him something more hands on with her. Tonight I even left for a cookie exchange and he did it all by himself! :) Way to go honey.