18 months

2 05 2013

Today my daughter turned 18 months old. That also means that she has been breastfeeding for 18 months. This is a big deal.

I have spoken openly about the challenges she and I had with breastfeeding on Ravelry but I’ve never written about it here. You see, several years ago I had to have surgery to remove some tumors (called phyllodes for the google inclined) that needed to be removed. They weren’t cancer and it could have been much much worse but surgery did a lot of damage and breastfeeding was always a question mark.

It wasn’t much of a surprise when breastfeeding didn’t go so well off the bat. I had low supply, which we’d been expecting and we had to supplement from early on. I was still eager to breastfeed as much as possible because some breastmilk is better than no breastmilk but my daughter was reluctant to latch. She was quite small for full term and sleepy and bottles were easier for her. I pumped a lot to boost and maintain supply and kept trying to get her to breast. In those moments of holding a screaming infant to my chest, coaxing, begging her to please latch I needed to set goals to keep going. How long could I continue this battle? My long term goal was a minimum of 6 months but at the time that was way too daunting. My first goal was 6 weeks. I told myself that no matter how hard it was, I would continue for 6 weeks. After that I could reevaluate but not before. Then it was 3 months and finally 6 months.

It got easier. Much easier. We never were able to ditch the formula until we transitioned to whole milk but we settled into a routine of combination feeding (ie breastmilk and formula) that worked for us. Once she got the hang of it my daughter really loved nursing and for a long time it was the only way she’d sleep.

Here we are at 18 months, a full year longer than the 6 months goal that seemed so unattainable in the beginning and our nursing relationship is still strong. I have no current plans to wean her as long as we are both happy with how things are going and she shows no signs of stopping. It is 18 months more than I thought I’d have 7 years ago.

 

(Note: I realize that breastfeeding and formula are hot button topics for a lot of people. I personally think that the anti-formula rhetoric does a disservice to women who might not be able to breastfeed exclusively but might be able to combination feed if it wasn’t so often presented as an all or nothing choice. Anti-formula comments as well as debate over how long a child should breastfeed will be deleted).

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One response

4 05 2013
InfamousQBert

Many congratulations on getting you both to this milestone. 🙂

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