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Breastfeeding For the Last Time
My third son was born with a head full of hair like his brothers, 20 inches long like his brothers, and had the face of an angel – you guessed it – like his brothers.
Unlike his brothers, he latched right on minutes after being born and nursed like a champ. With the exception of one case of mastitis, we had no breastfeeding issues whatsoever.
I was so relieved. It seemed like, at least with breastfeeding, the third time was a charm.
Breastfeeding and Failure to Thrive
My third baby grew quickly and was a very easy going, happy baby. When he was diagnosed with failure to thrive at his 9 month well baby check up, I was shocked.
Sure, my husband and I had noticed that he looked thinner, but we thought he was simply getting taller. His pediatrician confirmed that he had gotten taller, but he hadn’t gained weight since his 6 month appointment.
I felt sick with worry. I felt like a failure as a mom. How could he be “failing to thrive” without me noticing?
Fortunately, all his tests came back with no red flags. The doctor recommended to increase his intake of solids and supplement with formula.
Breastfeeding Baby Won’t Take a Bottle
Although I didn’t want to use formula I also didn’t want to take a chance by going against doctor’s orders, so I purchased formula for the first time as a mom. (My oldest son received formula samples as a newborn and my middle son was exclusively breastfed.)
When I tried to supplement with formula, my son (again, like his brothers) wouldn’t take a bottle. Instead of pushing formula I decided to nurse my son every two hours just like he was an infant. I also pushed solids a little more than I had been.
A Healthy 12 Month Well Baby Check Up
The doctor saw my son every month after his failure to thrive diagnosis at 9 months old. By his 12 month well baby visit he was back on track and gaining weight.
In hindsight I realize that I was so busy with a Kindergartener and his afterschool activities and a three-year-old who was showing early signs of Asperger’s syndrome that I didn’t pay attention to how often my happy-go-lucky baby was nursing.
Since he ate solids well and didn’t ask to nurse very often I didn’t notice that he was nursing less than he should be.
Third-child syndrome is real, y’all.
Toddler Teeth and a Breastfeeding Strike
One day, when my sweet baby boy was 15 months old, he clamped down on my nipple with his tiny teeth. I yelped loudly in pain. I sat him down on the floor, which was my standard practice for babies who bite while nursing.
Immediately, his face crumpled as he reacted to my sharp yelp after being bitten.
He never nursed again.
My son staged a hard core nursing strike. I tried every trick in the book for the next 4 months to get him to nurse again.
I was able to pump a little breast milk to give him in a cup, but he was mostly uninterested.
He wouldn’t nurse to sleep. He wouldn’t nurse for comfort. He was done.
The End of Breastfeeding is Bittersweet
I’d never heard of a baby self-weaning before the age of two. I knew that this was a nursing strike and that he’d been scared when I yelped. I tried to convince him that it was okay, but nothing I tried worked.
I was not physically prepared to be so abruptly finished with nursing. Even more, I wasn’t emotionally prepared for our nursing relationship to end the way it did.
When I look back over my breastfeeding journey I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to nourish my babies with my own body. Breastfeeding, like childbirth, is a miracle to be celebrated. I’m grateful that I experienced the ups and downs that come with breastfeeding because it made me stronger in the end.
I hope my story has been inspiring and encouraging to women who are struggling to begin or maintain a breastfeeding relationship with their babies.
Important Note: I share my breastfeeding experience to offer encouragement and celebrate my triumph over personal struggles, not to judge or condemn other moms whose stories are different from my own. If you feel like a breastfeeding failure you have to read this article to moms who think they failed at breastfeeding. You’re not a failure, mama.
My breastfeeding experience spanned a continuous 5 years and 9 months. In this series I share my breastfeeding story, with all of its ups and downs, for the purpose of inspiring and encouraging both new moms and those who are well into their breastfeeding experience.
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