In 2006, Mia nursed every two or three hours in 45-minute sessions. There was no keeping her from breastfeeding. It didn't come completely naturally to either of us, but suckle she did, until I was sure all I EVER accomplished in a given day was the feeding of my baby.
In 2008, Lauren nursed every three hours on the dot, for about 20 minutes. She was efficient, she was calm, and she was attentive. Our breastfeeding relationship was less snuggly -- she stopped using nursing to fall asleep early on -- but more comfortable. Easy rhythms, easy smiles.
Now, in 2012, Landon nurses every four hours for no longer than 4 minutes per side. He is super speedy and desires to be ANYWHERE other than latched to my breast. He needs to roll, sit, and play. He needs to look around and be included in life. Breastfeeding isn't a snuggle-fest in the least for us, as he won't sit still for longer than 7 minutes total.
I've got one arm supporting his head and back, and one arm pinning his hips to my lap. We are on minute two of Operation: Keep The Baby Latched. Minute two of Operation: Keep Mom's Nipples From Resembling Pulled Taffy. (I apologize for that visual...)
We are in my grandma's old, pink rocker-recliner, and I try keeping his attention with crazy-animated-mom face. My eyebrows are wiggly worms. My eyes are flying saucers. My mouth is a cavorting amoeba. (It occurs to me that I look disgusting...) I sing about itsy spiders and little lambs, and when those don't work, I switch to Lady Antebellum. Still, he begins to roll over, letting go of my breast at the last possible second in order to gain a better perspective on the upholstered arm of the chair. Apparently, it's enthralling. He burbles and thhhhhiiiiizzzzz's at it while I pat his back, stymied.
I've tried a million ways to keep Landon latched on for a few more minutes of milk. His weight has really fallen down on the growth chart for the past two well-baby checks, from 80th percentile at 2-months to 20th percentile at 6-months. I shouldn't be terribly concerned, I think, because that's where the girls always hovered, and he seems perfectly content after his turbo-boosted feedings. He might be a little angry at a slow release on one side and a gushing overflow on the other, but between the both of them, my milk-makers seem to keep him satisfied.
But when three minutes of nursing leaves me feeling inadequate, I panic.
I've quarantined us in his quiet bedroom for nursing sessions; no visitors are allowed, whether it be an adoring sister, a gushing father, or a long-lost relative whose dying wish is to watch baby Landon suckle contentedly. NO VISITORS ALLOWED. Because as soon as he hears a whisper of a presence, the breastfeeding is over. Done. Abandoned.
I've used a beautiful nursing necklace to keep his attention front and center. For the first day or so, this helped us reach the ever-elusive 5-minute mark, but after that, he merely used the necklace as a lever to help him roll over faster. Fist gripping beads, arm flexing mightily, body flipping speedily. When I could keep him from twisting over, he began shaking the necklace, perhaps in rebellion, creating a pretty, little tourniquet around mama's neck. I still like the necklace, and so does he, for teething. But for nursing, it's choked.
Now, I'm down to brass tacks. Amoeba mouths. Peek-a-boos behind my curtain of hair. I find myself longing for a leisurely, wholly inconvenient 45-minutes of suckling with this squishy boy.
And I can't quite decide which part seems the most desirable to me: the quiet cuddles or the absolutely emptied breasts. The eyes focused on mine for half of the day, or the guarantee of plenty of ounces and calories.
So I settle down for a few seconds of breastfeeding, and I pack the chair with diversions. Today, it's the singing, blinking glow-worm. Tomorrow it might be a stimulating baby iPhone app. (Do they make those?) Maybe next week, he'll find a way to take the breast with him on grand adventures.
I believe that's called a bottle. We don't have one of those, though, and I'd hate to spend my time snuggling with a breast pump, which will probably draw even less milk than my speedy baby.