Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Where Breastfeeding and Cavorting Amoebas Intersect

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. 



  1. Omg this is exactly how my baby girl was! Since she is my first baby, I had nothing to compare my bad nurser to and I got so frustrated! I used a breast pump a lot, and finally by 3 months we switched to formula. I am hoping (when we decide to have baby # 2) they will have a better nursing attention-span. My baby is 2 Yrs old now and I still love talking about nursing...I think that's the sign I want another! :-)

    1. Oh, Lauren, you SHOULD have another! Babies all around!! But seriously, I felt a million times more confident with my second as far as breastfeeding was concerned -- and all babies are different, so I hope you'll have a better nursing experience when/if you have another.

      And I love talking about nursing, too. Despite my worries here, I still think bf'ing is one of the most perfect aspects of motherhood, for me. It's my drug :)

  2. Oh. My first was a 45 minute girl. 45 min. on, 45 min. off. All day long. And most of the night too. Getting out the door required preparations hours (and hours in advance. She also got down to the 10% of weight for a while, though her height was fine (90% in fact).
    My second was a speedy and chunky monkey. Five minutes per side. All full/empty. She didn't drop back toward 50% until she crawled.
    This one, she's tricky. Fast one feeding, slow the next. If I try to force it she just spits up. But she's got mass to show she's taking in what she needs.

    Are you there when he asks? (I know you are) Is he happy and growing? Not just weight but height and in skills? (sounds like it) Don't worry too much. You're doing grea. Amoeba faces and all.

    1. Thank you SO much, Kate. This was highly encouraging -- just what I need to hear. Yes, he seems satisfied and strong. He's the happiest baby we've had yet. I think I just needed to know that other babies can dry out a boob in 5 minutes or less ;) I'm all about feeling like I fit in :)

  3. Pulled taffy. Yes. Nuff said.

  4. My sisters baby did that! Only her baby ended up being SUPER chunky (she was really short so that might have been part of it?). I too love breastfeeding (just weaned #4) I think its such a special time with momma and baby. My first was a horrible nurser (I had an over abundance of milk and he couldnt keep up with the let down) and since he was my first it made me really uptight because I didnt know what to do. So at three months I switched to pumping and bottle feeding. It wasnt fun, I had to lug my pump around everywhere I went and pray that there was some kind of outlet wherever we were going. My sister got married during the pumping time so we flew out to her my wedding. I popped a button on my shirt becuase I wasnt able to pump on the plane, lol (there wasnt an outlet, obviously)! Anyway, I hope you can figure out a way to keep him on longer.

  5. I wish I had some good advice, but judging from those pictures he's doing all right. Just look at that smile! (I'm getting all gushy over here, the little charmer!)

  6. Well, all I can say is welcome to life with a boy! They are so much different than girls are, aren't they? At least he looks perfectly happy and content, even if he is stressing out his mama!

  7. No advice, but encouragement and swooning over your happy busy boy!

  8. my son was just like yours...5min max every 4hrs. I started not even switching sides. my daughters took a little longer(10min max) All of them are super healthy. Just enjoy the extra time you get to play with all of them. you're doing a great job!!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?