Monday, September 24, 2012

Confessions of a Mama who Felt Angry

© 2012 Bess Bedell

Bess shares her journey from committing to tandem nursing, to weaning her toddler after birth. Her sensations and emotional upheaval after birth have been experienced by many moms. Additionally, these emotions can occur with an only child, too. Some people think it has to do with hormone imbalance, such as adrenal fatigue or thyroid problems. Other people discovered different factors, such as teething, wanting to comfort nurse instead of extract milk and a growing mouth.

"When my oldest daughter was 11 months old I found out I was pregnant again. I was thrilled and excited and horrified over the idea that I might have to wean her or could lose my milk. I bought the book Adventures in Tandem Nursing and started doing all my research and dicovered that nursing didn't have to end, though it could become painful.

I was lucky and nursing never became very painful. I did dry up. A lot. But my committed nurser never minded. She kept on nursing and I read more and more stories on tandem nursing and the amazing bond it gave siblings and how it eased the transition from having one baby to two babies for so many families. I read the info on how to help the toddler know boundaries and time limits for when mom needs to set some kind of boundary up for her sanity and I read about supply and I read on tandem nursing positions and I was ready. Beyond ready, I was excited. This was just another adventure in our walk of breastfeeding and I was thrilled that I would get to be one of "those super hero moms who breastfeeds TWO kids." Who does the unheard of in the normal, non AP parenting world. 

Then my second baby was born. And my hormones went crazy. At the time I didn't know what was wrong with me. I thought I had gone crazy or was going crazy. My sweet little baby girl who I had happily nursed through all of pregnancy looked like this giant toddler to me who was invading my space. Eve became jealous and wanted me 24/7 to breastfeed. But only to breastfeed. If I wasn't nursing her she wanted nothing to do with me and became extremely difficult to manage. 

I became short with her and angry. Too angry. Too angry to even claim I made sense and it wasn't justifiable. When she nursed I felt like I was suffocating and I literally felt my thermostat rising. I would get more and more angry the whole time she nursed and instead of nursing being the sweet, bonding time we had- it became dangerous. She would cautiously watch me while she nursed. Her tiny baby blue eyes looking up at me like I was a bomb that would explode and take everyone down with me any moment… because that's exactly what I was. My feelings were out of control.

So three months after my 2nd baby girl was born (who I had no ill feelings toward while nursing) I weaned Eve. I cut her off cold turkey. Though, I should say… we moved and in the hectic days of moving she never asked to nurse. I didn't even realize she hadn't asked until the third day. So, I decided if she could go 3 days without nursing maybe she could stop nursing all together. When she finally asked (on day 4) I told her it wasn't time yet (which had become our phrase when I needed more time between nursing sessions). She didn't freak out or have a melt down. She just went on playing. So that was it. She asked a few more times in that first week and I'd say it wasn't time yet and she never once freaked or got upset or act like I broke her heart. Probably because I hurt her little heart enough by becoming an angry nurser. 

I'm not sure I will ever get over how bad those three months were. How horrible I felt. Things got better after she was weaned. My emotions leveled out. Our relationship, which had been broken by those feelings started to mend. I later learned about something called postpartum mood disorder, which I am 110% sure is what I had. I wasn't depressed. My emotions were just out of control. Months later she asked to nurse again and I decided to let her but she could not remember how to latch and nurse. She would try and then just get confused and not be able to do it. So I pumped and gave her milk that way and would cuddle her while she drank her mommy's milk from a cup and tell her how much I love her and how special she is to me. 

When my second daughter (Ariel) was 14 months old I found out I was pregnant again. I was terrified. Terrified to again be the mom who weans, afraid to wean her in a horrible way, like last time, and mostly afraid to hurt our relationship by going through the same postpartum experience. When she was 18 months old she self weaned because of lack of milk supply and her own loss of interest. Now I am hoping to let this third baby nurse as long as she wants and to self wean because it's her time and not because of me and my circumstances."

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