So the Quail and I are definitely done with our nursing relationship. It’s been a while since we tried and this weekend I thought I would give it one last try. I hate to think in ultimatums. And I did hold out one last bit of hope that as her imitations skills grew perhaps seeing her sister nurse would inspire her. A few weeks ago we were in declutter mode at home and Lovey asked if I was done with the bottle nipples I was using in nursing practice. I really hadn’t thought about it in a few weeks and it gave me a small pang to admit I was done. But I told him to go ahead and pack them up. Then a few hours later still ruminating on it I went and got one out to keep in my bedside stand just in case. I guess there is still a part of me that sees it as defeat and doesn’t like that.
But life goes on and I need to as well I guess. I need to have some peace about it. I think I mentioned my conversation earlier with Bad Mama about nursing and how she talked me through the fact that yes, the Quail did not no how to nurse, did not have the physical stamina to nurse, had sensory issues related to nursing and we did work through all of those. So yes, she did technically learn to nurse. Now she makes an active choice not to nurse. I know plenty of babies end up weaning early on for one reason or another. For me the fact that my 3 year old is still so devoted to the breast, it makes it hard for me to see that another baby of mine is not so devoted. But I’m sure this is just the first in a long line of life lessons in recognizing family resemblances but allowing for individual differences. The Quail definitely has a will of her own. I can probably credit her sturdy neck tone to all of her fighting and shoving away from me in nursing practices.
So I’m working on not being sad about this. Or taking it as a personal failure. It’s funny because when I talk to other mom’s about nursing difficulties I would never think to blame them for it not working out, or tell them that they just didn’t apply themselves enough. So why I’m being so rough on myself I have no idea. I’m the first one to emphasize how hard nursing is to a new mom. The Quail did nurse. Our last most successful nursing that happily stands out in my head was during a therapy session after weeks of no luck. She latched on, settled in and nursed with the assistance of a bottle nipple and swaddle but little struggle otherwise. Kathy passed me a note quietly during it exclaiming, “Beautiful!” And it was. When we weighed her afterwards she had taken in a full 4 oz. A full feed, in 20 minutes from a little girl that months earlier struggled to extract a half ounce from me. That is success. It was sweet, it was natural, it was a triumph for both of us. Shortly after that we began 3 months of her being ill, stuffed up and the nursing strikes. We won’t be continuing to nurse but we did nurse. Yes we did.
My goal is two-fold now. First and foremost to focus on a snuggly bond with the Quail. Lovey hesitantly brought up our bond a few days ago. He said he wasn’t sure how I would react so he hadn’t wanted to point it out so blatantly before. But he felt like things had improved with my relationship with the Quail since we had given up our struggling nursing sessions. She responds more brightly, more openly and trustingly to my entering a room. She snuggles is when I pick her up and seems to feel confident in her home on my hip. She pats my cheek and gnaws on my chin. In the morning when I nurse Zuzu before work we have taken to snuggling up together as a threesome on the bed, Zuzu to one side and the Quail on my lap while we read a couple of quick stories. I still get to breathe in the scent of my heartsongs before I have to go out in the world. It gives me peace. It centers me and gives me strength. I’m no longer mentally focused on how to get everyone to be quiet and sit still in a house that is notoriously lively and full of energy just to reach one small part of a self-imposed goal. I’m no longer snapping at Zuzu or asking her to go to another room so that I can nurse her sister. That part of how things had become had always bothered me and hurt my heart as well as Zuzus. The thing I was most proud of when the Quail came home was the kindness with which Zuzu had welcomed her into our little nursing circle. To shove her out was not kind or natural. So ironically the upside of letting go of nursing the Quail is a stronger bond between all of us. And isn’t that bond one of the main reasons we nurse our babies in the first place?
The second part of the goal is the breastmilk itself. I hope to supply it in full to the Quail, first through her first birthday next month. Then hopefully through this cold and flu season that has been so hard on her little immune system. And this summer we’ll begin the transition to whole milk.
I feel good about these goals. They feel manageable.