Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Breastfeeding for 2 years and beyond


Tomorrow my little girl turns 2 years old. That marks the achievement of my goal of breastfeeding for 2 years. I had thought of what I will write when this milestone arrives and there were moments of doubt of whether this day will arrive or not. Sometimes the days seemed so loooong but like the wise Gretchen Rubin said, “The Days are long, But the Years are short”. Just like that, this little spunky gal had enriched our lives for 2 years.  

I had breastfed my eldest for about 19 months and he self-weaned, sans any drama or effort from me trying to wean him as I was about 18 weeks along with my second baby. That journey started so hard, yet ended so sweetly. It had laid a solid foundation for my next journey. 

The second time, although it was much easier in the beginning, there were plenty of “exciting” episodes along the way. I had mastitis at the 6th week (That pain was one of the most excruciating pains that I HAD ever, EVER felt. Thank God I went through that only once) and 6 months into the journey, I started to get recurrent milk blisters every 2 weekly. I can’t recall when it stopped, but as what I will always say to the other mommies, “This too shall pass”. ☺ 

During the peak of the fortnightly blisters, I pumped “pink guava” milk and once I had “tomato” milk. After she was 1.5 years old, a few times I had very painful nursing sessions that nearly pushed me to seriously consider weaning. I was so irritable during those sessions that I’d pushed her away a few times, gave her butt a hard pat and shouted at her sternly for being ‘rough’. She’d cry with her pouty lips and big drops of tears down her cheeks... Then, this weak mama would allow her to come close and she’d quietly nurse again…

Saw this funny picture that sort of depicts how it felt like
Fast forward to now, this lil’ girl is a very happy, active, bubbly, persistent (read: Stubborn) little person that, just like her name, that has brought so much joy to our lives. Happy Happy Birthday dearest Joy! Mommy, Papa and Kor Kor love you…

Breastfeeding her had taught me much. To those who said, breast milk provides little nutrition beyond 6 months, I can vouch that from the numerous times that I was with her for about a week on our vacations, that although she hardly ate much (thanks to her free access to the 24-hour milk bar), she would still put on weight and at the end of all the short breaks, her face will chubby up. EVERY TIME. My mom would say that she looks all rounded from celebrating her “birthday” for a week. LOL! 

How I will miss these moments when she decides to wean. I am all teary thinking that one day when she will not sit on my lap like da’ boss, grab my top and pull it up or down and help herself to the bar. Breastfeeding has taught me that I am capable of so much more than I could imagine. 

Yes, breastfeeding takes commitment, and sheer determination in the beginning, but the rewards surpasses all of that many folds. It is needless for me to elaborate on the well-documented benefits of breast milk… BUT, I shall share with you a write up from one of my favorite parenting website, where the writer so aptly summarizes with such honesty and direct language, on my love for breastfeeding in the following few points. I had amended the write-up with my own details. 

What breastfeeding means to me? (I am shallow too ☺):

They get the job done. Need some reasons to breastfeed, too? Read on and have a good laugh! #All mention of “husband” are the writer’s experience. But I found it so hilarious that I didn’t remove it. It doesn’t represent my own. Blinking my eyes innocently.

1. Milk boobs are awesome. Have you seen milk boobs? The new-mom, my-milk-just-came-in(!!) boobs? They’re glorious. They’re porn star glorious except they’re REAL. They’ll make even the staunchest feminist reconsider her rabid stance on breast augmentation. These fabulous tits were a fabulous surprise after my first child, and a highly anticipated perk (for both my husband and me) after my second. I had also had envious looks from my girlfriends. 

2. I don’t have to work out (Read: I am too lazy). My baby weight lost itself (mostly… 10kg stucked with me until recently) because breastfeeding burns 500-800 calories A DAY. Even my best workout (which was scarce) when I was in my twenties and maintaining slim body didn’t burn 800 calories. How crazy would I be to opt out of something that burns a shitload of calories while I sit on my ass, snuggling my baby, in my thirties?

3. I don’t feel remotely guilty about what I eat. I need to replace the calories nursing burns otherwise my milk production decreases dramatically. So heeeelllllloooo, late night Maggi Mee, McD burgers, roti naan with tandoori chicken, ALL in the same seating. Thank you for contributing to the cause of better infantile nutrition. And yes, I would like a salted-caramel shake with that. It’s all in the name of milk production.

4. I can’t forget my breasts when I leave the house. I’ve forgotten diapers, clothes, blankets, binkies, the stroller, the entire diaper bag after spending 20 minutes packing it, and even the friggen baby, but I’ve never forgotten milk. If you don’t have kids, having one less thing to remember as you herd your family out the door may not seem significant. If you do have kids, you know how significant it is. (So funny! It seems so automatic to most people, but wait till you have kids.)

5. I get guaranteed breaks during crappy social functions. It is completely acceptable to excuse yourself from a party to nurse your child in private. Even though I don’t really care about privacy after my second baby, I sometimes take advantage of this understanding to avoid awkward acquaintances and annoying people and check Facebook and Whatsapps for a while.

6. Aunt Flo goes on sabbatical. Thanks to breastfeeding, I made it 84 week sans Aunt Flo after my daughter was born. With my son, Aunt Flo returned as he just turned 1 year and 1 week old. If you count her absence during my pregnancy, I haven’t seen her in nearly more than 4 years in since 2010. FOUR YEARS. I don’t miss that bitch at all.

7. I can instantly comfort my screaming baby without having to troubleshoot the actual problem. Sometimes I’m too tired or busy to try to figure out what the baby is crying about, so I just nurse. Nine times out of 10, shoving a boob in my baby’s mouth calms him/her down immediately. Note: This also works with the father.

8. Breast milk poop smells a hell of a lot better than big kids’ poop. I have to change a lot of disgusting poopy diapers, so if anything can make them less disgusting, I’m in. Breast milk poop smells, but it doesn’t stink. Not like the big kid shit. Whenever my daughter goes off food during the milk-vacays, her poops turns back to the sweetish-smelling-tumeric yellow-seedy poops. No words can’t sufficiently describe that sense of satisfaction of a full diaper a nursing mama feels.

9. When my kids have kids, I can hold it over their heads that when they were babies, I did everything right and know everything. The extreme commitment and effort of breastfeeding lends a lot of credibility to the future backseat parenting of my grandchildren. Muahahaha!

10. Breastfeeding is not an “ALL or NONE thing”. Even bottle of breast milk a day is great. For those considering stopping pumping during the day, take it slow and you can wean off the pump, but do continue to latch when you are with the baby. During times when your child is unwell, when they refuse all food, water and formula/fresh milk, when you feel so helpless and wished you could take their place instead, they will always say “Yes” to breast milk. You will be so grateful that you are still nursing. ☺ 

So, here I would really like to thanks so many people who played important roles in my breastfeeding:

1. My hubby, the Rock of my life, for all the support from Day 1.
2. My mom who is also one of my biggest supporter!
3. Haz, Chermaine, Ginny for their early days SOS support line. Without them responding to my SOS messages and always giving me positive encouragement, I would have be a total wreck then.
4. Verance, for introducing me to TBAN and MC, which provided me so much of mental support to soldier on. Thanks to the founder of TBAN and MC for providing this platform and uniting all the nursing mommies. 
5. My fellow compatriots aka Peer Counselor sisters, for all the support and sharing their knowledge with me. We have formed a great friendship till today; you are my sounding board and always put things in perspective for me. 
6. All the nursing mamas who had shared their unique and inspirational stories with me. I am proud to be your friend. 

Happy Breastfeeding!!!

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