August 20, 2012
A whole new game, a whole new set of rules
When Stella was just a tiny baby, I would read about how challenging it could be to breastfeed a toddler. I remember thinking that it can't be that difficult. These women just want to whine about something. After all, toddlers can't possibly nurse that much and it seemed so much better than the hours and hours I spent sitting around nursing a newborn. Here I am today, breastfeeding a toddler and longing for the days when I sat comfortably nursing my quiet newborn for hours.
Toddlers are demanding. It doesn't matter where we are or what time of day it is, when Stella decides it's milk time, it's milk time. We can be in the middle of the grocery store, in a restaurant or picking her sisters up from school when she makes that decision. Once that is decided, she will do anything she can to get it. This includes (but is not limited to) poking at my chest, pulling my shirt down, pulling my shirt up, screaming, crying, headbutting, and sometimes, she just tries to chew through my shirt.
Toddlers are active. They are busy learning how to do new things with their bodies every day. They can't be bothered to stop for any reason, not to eat, not to sleep and definitely not to nurse. I think back to pictures depicting feeding positions for newborns and how simple it was. Now, it's like a lottery. I can only guess what kind of position we'll get in and only hope that it's comfortable. I honestly don't remember ever seeing a picture of a mother nursing with the child's toes in her ear or the baby on her back or hanging from her hair.
Decision making is not on the list of a toddler's strengths. They often want to do everything all at once. Stella will settle in to nurse until something interesting catches her eye and she's off and running. If I'm lucky, she'll remember to let go before taking off. However, the moment I try to close up shop, she wants to finish nursing. The problem doesn't just lie in deciding to nurse or play, it extends to which side she will nurse on. Discreet nursing has become a thing of the past. She wants both sides available to her at all times. I'm seriously starting to think that one side is chocolate and one is vanilla. Sometimes, she will look around for a third option and get mad when she doesn't find one.
Stella is the first of my children I have successfully breastfed past 1 month. I'm proud of myself and for continuing and I know that it's best for her. There are times (usually when she's upside down with her big toe in my left nostril) that I think "I'm finished. I can't do this anymore". The moment always passes as quickly as it came. I haven't put any thought as to when I will wean Stella. It would probably be more accurate to say that Stella has given me no hint as to how soon she will wean herself. Until then, I'll just continue to laugh about feeling like a buffet and a jungle gym.