Notes on nursing, the fifth time around

I nursed my fourth child for the last time one Saturday morning in April 2016. I had spent quite a few of the previous eight years being pregnant or nursing. I didn’t think much about that morning feeding that day, but at some point later the thought hit me that, whoa, that might be the last time I ever breastfeed a baby (I blame the Brad Paisley song “Last Time for Everything”). You don’t always know when something is the last time. And then a chapter is over.

Or not. I didn’t close off the option and so here I am, a few years later, with a new little one. He has been, by far, my easiest baby to nurse for a simple reason: I never go anywhere.

From January to March, I had some of the old stress of nursing because even though I wasn’t traveling for work, I was trying to time feedings around driving other kids places, and trying to match ounces pumped for ounces given when I would, say, go to church.

Then in March all that ended. I didn’t have to time feedings around anything beyond phone calls, and even then, I could often mute myself and proceed. I kept pumping a bottle a day to keep my supply up, but I just packed it into the freezer because we had no need of bottles. I recorded an audio book in late June that required being gone from the house for 6 hours and I went on an 8-hour fishing expedition in August, and that was the extent of my bottle requirements. For, basically, six months.

Since late summer, this has started to change. The baby has started eating a lot more food, and our childcare is such that I pump a bottle for him mid-day. I went on an overnight trip with my older children in late September and so I pumped around the clock during that one and whoa, that was a reminder of how actually being around the baby is so much more convenient than tethering oneself to a Medela Pump-in-style every few hours. (Though, product endorsement! I have used this same Medela since 2007. I switched out the tubing and pump parts multiple times, but the motor has been fine — I prefer it to the others I’ve tried — and humorously I still have the photo of my now 13-year-old son as a baby in the photo part because all my babies look the same and if anyone saw the photo, they would completely think it is kid #5).

Anyway, absent a pandemic there is no practical way I could have not left the house for months. Whether I was working or not, I would have had plenty of obligations with the other children. So the knowledge that never leaving the house makes breastfeeding far easier is not particularly useful to myself or anyone else. But hey, now I know.

The little guy is growing up fast, as babies do. He’s starting to get distracted during daytime feedings. The world is an interesting place! Lots of things to crawl to and put in your mouth! As he nears his first birthday in December those feedings may go away, but I imagine we’ll keep doing morning and night for a while. I’m still not going many places, so why not? The last time for everything comes eventually, but life brings many possibilities. I’m trying to enjoy looking at my baby’s fat little legs* as he’s curled up in my arms.

*23lbs 9oz at his 9 month pediatrician visit, and at the 94th percentile for BMI. He’s wearing 18 month clothing, just with the pants folded up at the bottom since he’s not the height of an 18 month old child yet!

Photo: Baby caring for a baby

9 thoughts on “Notes on nursing, the fifth time around

  1. Ha, nursing babies feels like literally a life time ago now, as my youngest is 10 (almost 11!) now. But I feel like my breastfeeding days were kind of defined by a couple of things..1) I was working as an inpatient nurse on a very busy transplant unit at the time. I still feel a sense of dread when I think about how I had to find a coworker to hold my pager for ~10-15 minutes at least twice a shift. Ugh. Patient care doesn’t always just stop when you need to pump! That was so stressful. and 2) I had this weird preoccupation with feeling like I needed to learn to skillfully nurse my baby anywhere, even out and about…hard to explain, but I felt nervous/ overwhelmed with my 1st baby about nursing in public, so I think I made an extra point to become comfortable doing it. (I spent more time than I care to admit when he was a newborn playing around with nursing bras/ tanks, coverups, etc..lol). I literally never gave him a bottle of pumped milk, ever! (my husband did, when I wasn’t there, but I never did personally.) There’s certainly nothing wrong with nursing in public, but I think I could have made my life a lot easier if I had just packed a bottle sometimes for some situations. Especially when it was all new and awkward.

  2. My sister’s son was born in early February and he is definitely up there for BMI, I’m sure. We joke that due not leaving the house, the kid has not missed or even shortened a single meal since he was born!!! Is there anything better than chunky baby legs and arms? And those tummy rolls? I can hardly stand it! Sadly, they are 2,000 miles away and I must admire from afar. Thank goodness for technology! I loved breastfeeding both my boys, but pumping was a real stressor. I always felt like a timer ticking in the back of my mind, counting down to when I needed to pump next, or get home to nurse or the logistics of where I would be. And was I making enough? A pandemic would have greatly relieved my stress in this area, ha! So glad you were able to experience this silver lining! :o)

  3. We joke that our 2 year old was living her best life during the pandemic – home with her 4 siblings and both parents for days and days and months! Always someone to play or read a book, even if her first choice was busy. We had almost a 6 year gap before she was born and when I was pregnant with her I was really worried about how naptime, bedtime, and nursing would work. Ha! We had no trouble keeping her on a schedule.

  4. I’m about 5 weeks away from delivering our 2nd child and I really hope breast feeding goes better this time around. My first child did not transfer milk well. We had so many LC appointments and weight checks. It was very stressful. He was 50th %tile when he was born but migrated down to 4th and that’s where he is now. So I will always wonder – was he not getting enough milk or was he just migrating to his curve and appeared to not get enough milk/gain enough. So after about 2-3 weeks of triple feedings (nurse, then pump, then bottle feed) I gave up and switched to exclusively pumping, which was honestly hellacious. I have told my husband I will 100% not do that again and to hold me to that… Mom guilt is real so I can see myself guilting myself into pumping longer. But hopefully he latches/transfers milk/gains weight and it’s not a concern. I’m pretty sure I will WFH for all of 2021 so pumping during the work day will be much easier (he’ll be in daycare so will need bottles). But if he doesn’t transfer milk well, I will only pump for maybe 6-8 weeks or so? I know breast milk is important but dang it is hard on the mom to exclusively pump. There is nothing precious or sweet about hooking yourself up to tubing and feeling like Bessy the cow! 😉

    1. @Lisa – exclusive pumping sounds terrible – I can’t imagine it would make a big enough difference to stick with it for long. And if the pumping time took someone away from the baby that would be possibly a negative. I found breastfeeding got easier with subsequent babies so hopefully you will experience the same thing when the new little one arrives!

    2. @Lisa: Not at all giving medical advice here (though I do work in allied health), but…some kids are just meant to be at the 4th percentile (remember, it’s a bell curve – there have to be people at both ends!). I was nearly 9.5 lbs at birth, migrated to the 15th for weight, and remained there to this day as an adult. I’m tall and thin. My parents are tall and thin. And…(spoiler alert)…my kids are tall and thin! We also spent many months in and out of the pediatrician with my first son, who bottomed out around the 5th percentile, and for whom monthly (or more) weight checks were a thing – sounds similar to your son. I had plenty of milk and he ate as much as he wanted, but he is clearly just programmed to be skinny. His pediatrician said that was likely the case all along, but she also has guidelines to follow and a when a kid crosses percentiles regularly (in his case, dropping from the 50th to the 5th over a period of about 3 months), she has an obligation to follow up on it. So she did, until it became clear that he’s just a tall and skinny (but very healthy!) kid. Of course, I was all prepared for a repeat when my second son was born (and was determined not to stress about it), but he surprised us and consistently hangs out at the 50th percentile for weight so…

      Good luck with kiddo #2!

    3. As a little encouragement, I struggled breastfeeding with my first (initially he didn’t want to eat, then latching properly, gaining weight and then keeping up with pumping enough until we finally had to start supplementing with formula) so I was not looking forward to the process with my second. Mere minutes after he was born, the nurse asked if I wanted to try nursing. My husband and I laughed and said “yeah right, like that’s going to happen!” Well, he popped on there like a pro, hungrily latching right away and was a champion eater ever since. My pumping experience was completed different too, pumping gallons and gallons for the freezer (which he didn’t really eat, preferring to wait until I got home). I was hesitant to give them away, afraid that I would need them at the end. But nope! He made it all the way to 14 months and hardly used a drop of freezer milk. So your experience could be similar to your first or it could be completely different and I wish you the best of luck either way! And yes, I wish someone had given me a good shake and made me realize bad things were not going to happen if I gave in to formula earlier and more often. It would have greatly reduced the stress levels all around!

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