Done nursing

I’m done.

I’d hoped to nurse Thane through to a full year – he’s nearly 10 months old now. I made it just about 7 months with Grey. But I think this phase of my life has come to a close.

I’m a big supporter of breastfeeding. I’ve also had problem-free experiences. My milk has come in well. My babies nursed easily and right away. I’ve always had enough supply to meet demand – at least when they were little. But I start having trouble once they start crawling. I’ve come to the conclusion that the people who manage to nurse to a year or more have children who sit more quietly than mine do. You should see some of the acrobatic feats Thane has accomplished while attached to me. He’s got two teeth now. He’s started biting. He twists and winds. Unless he’s 90% asleep, it’s not really a pleasure to nurse him. I’ve been pumping for nearly 7 months now — a huge part of my day spent in a super-cold server room. But without the pumping, the supply doesn’t keep up. And finally, my trip to Washington not unexpectedly put a huge dent in my supply, even though I diligently pumped all the time I was away from Thane.

I have three options: keep trying to nurse him and attempt to deal with all these complications one by one, stop nursing him and feel like a failure for not making it to a year, or stop nursing him and feel like a success for having nurtured such a big, strong, healthy kid for as long as worked for both of us. I’ve decided to go with the latter.

There are a lot of emotions around this. Nursing is pretty cool. I mean, suddenly your body does this awesome, useful thing that very few other people can do. Imagine if your belly button suddenly started producing Hershey’s kisses on demand? It’s just awesome. I’m going to be sad when my body turns this new functionality off. I’d kind of rather keep it around unless I need it, you know? But no. If you don’t use it, you lose it. On the other hand, I might now be able to wear some of my more fitted blouses. Or (gasp) dresses. Or get some bras that do not look like they came from the 30s. I’m not going to have this little alarm clock in my head reminding me I better get some private time with a pump or my baby soon. I won’t look down in surprise to see any warm stains spreading when I don’t succeed in this.

It’s time. Thane has shared my body for over 18 months now. I’m ready to get it back to all mine.

I’d like to close up with some numbers. I know lots of people seem go online to find out “what’s normal”. I think I had a pretty normal nursing and pumping experience. I’d also like to give some perspective to people who think pumping is easy. I actually kept detailed records on how much I pumped (because, well, I do love me some data). Here’s how it plays out.

I pumped:

For 26 weeks
For 261 sessions over 108 days
1626.5 ounces

That comes out to:
15 ounces a day
6 1/3 ounces a session (on average)
62 ounces a week
2.5 sessions a day

If you assume I spent 15 minutes a session pumping (I think it’s likely to be more) I spent a total of 62.25 hours pumping. Over those six months, I produced 12.7 gallons of breastmilk.

Please note that I nursed during lunch, during weekends and during time not spent at work. The above figures reflect the amount of milk produced while working full time.

Good job, Tigris and Euphrates.

Not a baby anymore
Not a baby anymore

Thane at four months

Ask not for whom the baby smiles; he smiles for you
Ask not for whom the baby smiles; he smiles for you

I brought Thane to the doctor for his four month checkup this morning. Statistically, he is doing wonderfully. He’s holding steady, percentage-wise. Thane is 14 pounds and 15 ounces (50th percentile), and 25 3/4 inches long (75th percentile).

At his four month checkup Grey, whom I always considered to be a bonny big boy, clocked in at 13 pounds 13 ounces.

Grey was also born at a pound heavier than Thane.

So to sum up, Thane has grown a LOT in 4 months.

Thane passed his checkup with flying colors. The doctor remarked on how very strong he was. He can stand on his own (if you provide the balance) holding on to your hands in a vise-like grip. He rolls over easily front to back, and frankly is very very close to rolling over back to front. He’s gotten 90% of the way there several times and simply stopped trying when he was on his side. When placed on his belly, he can move by scootching, although there’s no intent on his part to move somewhere. On his back, he moves in circles like the hands of some baby-clock ticking away the brief moments of infanthood. He kicks up his legs and then brings them down to the side. He repeats. Yesterday he turned 180 degrees using this method.

Thane’s gripping and playing is going very well. He isn’t a huge fan of pacifiers, although they will sometimes help when he’s unhappy. But he loves to play with and hold toys. Sometimes in his attempt to reach for something, he’ll knock it onto the floor several times. (Helpful brother Grey will often restore it.) If he can grasp it well, it immediately goes to the mouth. He will hold strongly onto an object once he’s gotten it.

We are still nursing all the time. My pediatrician has given the green light to start adding in solid foods, but there’s no rush. Thane hasn’t started giving me the puppy dog eyes as he watches me eat dinner. He’s clearly thriving on breast milk. Instead of looking forward to each milestone hit, I find myself not wishing Thane any older or bigger or stronger than he is. Already, I miss the little tiny baby. (15 pounds is NOT a little tiny baby.)

Thane’s sleeping is a bit of the good and a bit of the bad. On the good side, when it’s time for bed I go through our bedtime routine of two stories, nurse while mom sings, and placing him in his crib awake. I walk out the door as he watches his mobile and I don’t hear from him again for 5 hours. He goes to sleep like a dream (ha! Get it?!) He stays asleep during the night, waking at reasonable intervals for a bit of a snack and immediately going back to sleep. The other day, we put him to bed at 7:30 and he didn’t wake up for the day until TEN. That’s fantastic! Fabulous! Amazing!

The flip side, though, is that the child DOES NOT NAP. He gets tireder and tireder as the day goes on, but he won’t nap in his crib, or in his swing, or while mom holds him. And towards the evening, he gets understandably cranky. I’d rather put him to bed at 8 or 8:30, but he just can’t be happy being awake then. And he doesn’t sleep unless we do good-night ritual above. All told, I think this is likely a phase and I’ll get him to nap eventually, but it does seem like he lumps all the sleep together. This is less pronounced when he goes to daycare because he sleeps well in the car, so he gets a nap going to and coming from daycare.

Personality-wise, I continue to find Thane a joy. He’s incredibly social, smiling incandescently at everyone he meets. He LOVES to watch other children play. He very reliably only cries when something is wrong (hungry, dirty or tired) OR if he can’t see anyone. He’s extremely good-natured. He “talks” a lot, this happy baby babble that delights my heart. He seems very sweet and good-natured, and possibly a bit less mercurial than his brother.

He already loves to read. Even in the middle of his exhausted evening fuss, he quiets down and pays attention when it is time to read. You can almost watch him drink in the bright pictures, trying to figure out his world.

He does not like loud noises, especially when he is eating. If I speak loudly while I’m feeding him, he pulls off and gives me this accusatory stare. Rubertina at daycare reports the same thing. Also, I am now remembering why I weaned Grey at 7 months. The squirming and thrashing is painful enough in his gummy state. I suspect it was unendurable with opposing biting teeth.

He laughs when you blow on his belly.

Thane is a lovely child. His eyes remain a few shades darker blue than Grey’s. His cheeks are winter-rosy. His skin is exceptionally soft. His birth-hair has mostly fallen out, and after a while of psuedo-baldness, his first real hair is starting to come in, a bit darker than Grey’s. His gaze is arresting — clear and knowing. His smile lights up the world around him.