Tuesday, March 08, 2011

La leche league

Tuesday, March 08, 2011
My dearest Sophia,
So we are here now: the end of our breastfeeding relationship, never to return. How it happened: well, you got sick. You had an outbreak of fever blisters on the outside and inside of your mouth and it became too painful for you to drink. After that you no longer wanted the breast or the bottle. I feel a little mixed about it. I feel so so grateful that you choose it. You were so much more outwardly connected to the boob. You were kind of obsessed with it. I am also so so grateful that I did not have to have some big final feeding with you and then listen to you cry and beg for it.
I am glad it happened this way. I have cherished and I mean cherished our time together like this.
I remember when you were first born, two days after and everyone said you were too little or two weak to feed and I was so scared and I fought so horribly with your father because I wanted to hold you in my arms and feed you my milk. It was so important for me to give you my milk. Well, so, I finally got the clearance from the doctor and I went to the NICU and took you in my arms and the nurse in there showed me how to pop my boob into your mouth and you latched!!!!! Like right away! It gave me such confidence that what I was doing was right, that you really needed me then. And you just sucked and sucked and sucked until they came and said no more. They told me you would get too tired. So I went everyday to the NICU and I pumped and left my milk for you. Even then when I had to leave you in the hospital and go home without you for the two longest days of my life. I went back three time a day to drop off my milk. I will never forget that feeling. That was before your father and I had a car and he would take me on his little scooter. It was October so it was cold at night and my feet and arms would freeze and I was scared to death of how your father would weave in and out of traffic so I would hang onto him so so tight and close my eyes and listen to Buena vista social club on my headphones and I could never get there fast enough. Neither one of us could. When we would pull up to the clinic, he would say, “go, just go, I’ll be there in a sec” and I would jump off even before we stopped moving and throw him my helmet and run inside and then knock on that damned door and then go in and put on that damned dirty smock they made every one share and walk over to your  and Mae’s little plastic cases and I would just cry and cry and tell you both through the plastic how much I loved and missed you. Then I would pull out my kit and, still being so new at it, slowly assemble my mechanical pump and pump out as much milk as I could and leave it for you. I don’t want to remember the details of what it felt like to leave, to say goodbye…

Then when I brought you home from the hospital, I fed you every time you cried, non-stop for months. It was CRAZY. You would SCREAM so loud and for two whole months all you and Mae did between 5:00pm and 10:00pm was stay latched on to the boob. I would just lay in bed with you two and not be able to move for hours. Your father hated it. He was so worried about you two. He didn’t think you were feeding enough. We disagreed. But he was still very helpful. He cooked us dinner every night and did all of the dishes and straightened the whole house. And that was after he would work a 10 hour day.

Your auntie and your granmother from America were there and they fretted and tried to help and I spent so much time being locked up in bedrooms, keeping you away from people and feeding feeding feeding. It was my job, it was my reason to exist at that point.

We went on like this until I went back to work and then I would leave pumped milk for you, but we always had a bottle of formula in the house just in case. Sometimes we would give you a bottle a day, sometimes none. We played it by ear and you two just kept growing and getting so big and healthy.  I was so so proud of you. Then people, the same people who said you were too small before, started to say you were too fat! I thought it was great.
The breastfeeding relationship changed and got easier, gradually, once you started eating. We didn’t go down to two feeds a day until you were around 14 or 15 months. That is when I stopped night feeding you and two…oh my god, you fought it SO HARD Sophia. You were so so mad that I would not feed you at night. You would twist and scream and yell and wake us all up every night. Finally it got easier and you stopped demanding it at night, but then every once in a while you would “reclaim” and demand that I feed you at night.  
Until, at 17 months, you, shockingly, self-weaned. I totally respect your decision and I am also very proud of you. Sometimes you still want to see the boob and lay your head on it. And ALWAYS when I pick you up you put your hand down my shirt and rest your little hand in between my boobs. This may sound funny and weird to talk about if you are reading this before you have kids but once you do have children of your own, re-read this. You will understand it better.
I love you so so much. Thank you for latching on when you did. Thank you for not letting go until you were ready. Thank you for being you baby girl.

And Mae…then same goes for you. You were even smaller than Sophia and when you latched in the hospital, I was indescribably vindicated. I KNEW that my babies needed to feed even the little one that they said would not be able to. Mae you latched on and started drinking like crazy and SCREAMED when they took you off. And you were not even 4 pounds!
I will never ever forget, the feeling of, once I got you home, looking down at you while you fed. Your big HUGE eyes would stare up at me and you looked like a little alien! But you were so determined to grow and survive and you drank so much. You drank all the time and before we knew it you were bigger than Sophia. Your father and I would laugh at the sounds you two would make while you were feeding. He called you the Williams sisters (see female tennis players) because they make funny sounds when they hit the ball and you two made funny pleasure sounds when you drank. So you drank and drank and drank and pooped and pooped and pooped and that was our life, For a long long time. That was our life: Breastfeeding and dirty diapers.
And Mae…as you grew and started to walk and be independent you would go long periods and not care as much about the boob while you were awake, but really really need it at night. And now Sophia has quit and you know it. It is the strangest thing. A few weeks ago you could totally forget about the boob for a day or so at a time. But every since Sophia has quit you have totally revitalized you commitment! You scream and pull at my collar and unzip my sweaters and throw yourself on the floor and wake up in the middle of the night to breastfeed. It is like you are trying to tell me that you don’t want to quit. I get it, I hear you and I will not force you. Ok? I promise. I will not force you. If you are not ready, it is ok. We can keep going. I have a conference in a month and we will be apart for a week but I have decided to take a pump with me to keep a little milk in case you still want to feed when I get back. So don’t worry baby girl. We will keep going until you are ready too. I promise. And you know what…not just for you, for me too. Sophia decided and that is her right and she certainly didn’t ask me. I totally supported her decision but if you are not ready, then I am not ready either. And when youa re ready, that will be fine with me. I will probably have a good cry and then a long sigh and then be done with it. But as for now, if you aren’t ready, I’m not ready and we will just keep going.  That’s a promise. I love you.



Nona LaRue said...

oh what a sad yet empowering moment for mommy and babies! being a mommy for me lately has become a kind of series of unlatchments..first the boob, then then his own bed, now his own room and he even insists on dressing himself and preparing his own meals. i should be proud of what independance he has gained from all the love and hard work i've put into nurturing him...but when he says, "no mommy i dont want to snuggle and mommy kisses are gross"...my heart breaks a little for those beautiful little eyes that looked up at me from my breast so lovingly...
already, his own man. thank god that 'monsters' still scare him into mommy's bed in the middle of the night and thank god there will always be booboos & the common cold that only mommy can make better ;)

congrats mamma, your girls are stunning and powerful...because of who they are and where/who they came from. sorry for the diatribe..transitioning on this side of the pond.. ;) love you!

dancinglawn said...

Yes indeed they will be eternally grateful that you stuck to your beliefs even if they dont realise it.....and well done it will forever cement your relationship with your lovley babes!!!

But another separation is bound to give you all mixed feelings but they obviously know when they are ready...xxxxx hope to see you all soon


Anonymous said...

I know how hard it was for you to fight the battle and then win it, just to breastfeed your own wee angels, so no doubt it will be another struggle when that time comes to an end. It is only one of the many lessons that our children remind us and teach us everyday - life changes, it is forever progressing, creating memories, new joys, and challenges. If you ever feel sad when remembering them tiny and desperate, just look at them and appreciate how healthy and strong they are now. That's because of you. Because of your struggle, determination and instinct to do the best thing for your babies. Its a job well-done. Its an accomplishment. Rarely are we able to see how directly our struggles have impacted those around us.
I'm proud of you. Sophia and Mae are so lucky that you are their mother.
Now look to the future and the fun that lies ahead! because before you know it, you'll be sad the next bit is over too! No time for tears, there's dancing to get on with!
I love you,
You Big Sis