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Breastfeeding a toddler, Gabby is 2!

Here we are. 2 years later. Wow. Just over 2 years ago I was sitting at my first La Leche League meeting wringing my hands over my 7 months pregnant belly. I was nervous, very naive about breastfeeding and scared of failure. I am also not great at public speaking and even in this very small group of people I didn’t know, my voice was shaky and I was on the brink of tears. Sanita was with me for moral support. The mothers in the group were so nice, friendly, informative and helpful. One of the mothers let me view her baby’s latch up close. This was my first and second last meeting before Gabby’s arrival. Sanita attended many more meetings with me.

For the first two weeks after birth I was on cloud 9. I was on a hormonal high and not even the jaundice threw me. I admit, I had a small cry when Gabby had to be readmitted to hospital in order to be treated for jaundice and the sticking of the needles into her for daily blood tests certainly got my mommy claws out. The beginning of our breastfeeding journey was fraught with difficulty, uncertainty and tears. They wanted to give her formula for the jaundice. I stuck to my guns. Gabby’s weight gain was slower than the doctors and nurses would have liked, even for a breastfed baby. I hashed it out with my La Leche League leader, Kim (as I did everything else – she was my ROCK!), and we pressed on. For 12 weeks I was practically permanently attached to my baby. Even if she unlatched and fell asleep, I could not move from her side without her waking and crying for me. This is typical behaviour for the first 6 weeks or so, I did not expect it for 12. We soldiered on. I tried expressing for her for when she would go to the day mother and I sucked at it. I kept on trying. Eventually when Gabby went to the day mother at 5 1/2 months old we had to supplement with formula as my body just would not respond to a pump the way it did to my baby. I was devastated. I felt like a failure despite exclusively breastfeeding for 5 1/2 months. Still, I kept breastfeeding whenever we were together. I fought with the day mother on a daily basis. I was so afraid of nipple confusion and Gabby getting used to the flow of a bottle and rejecting the breast.

We started co-sleeping from the day she came home and it turns out it was the best decision ever. The entire family gets more sleep now that nobody is getting up for a crying baby. In fact, there is no crying baby. As soon as she starts getting restless, I’ll nurse her and she’ll instantly calm back down and go back to sleep. What an absolute pleasure. While Gabby still gets sick fairly often during winter (something I didn’t expect, I thought breastfed babies never get sick!) she always gets off lightly. If we all have a tummy bug she might have one or two bad nappies and a vomit and it will all be over, whereas Elijah (and the rest of us) will suffer for a full 24 hours.

Breastfeeding is still the most amazing mothering tool. It doesn’t matter what happens, nursing her immediately fixes the problem. It has also meant that I get to have more naps since I lay down with Gabby to put her to sleep and sometimes I fall asleep with her. Is this not reason enough to continue?! 😉

I never could have imagined I would still be breastfeeding 2 years later. Not in my wildest dreams. I also could never have imagined the bond it created between me and my daughter. I never knew how much easier it would make things. I also never anticipated how difficult it would be to deal with all the unwelcome comments and uninformed bullshit that spews from people’s mouths. I digress.

I knew I wanted to breastfeed, even when I was pregnant with Elijah and I really regret not reaching out to La Leche League when I was trying to get through the rough patch with him. To be completely honest, I thought breastfeeding would help me lose weight and that was almost my sole reason for wanting to do it. I was completely oblivious to how amazing it is nutritionally and emotionally for both mother and baby. I used to avert my eyes when I saw a mother breastfeed in public. I thought people that breastfeed for longer that 6 months are strange. WHY? I actually asked colleagues when they would stop breastfeeding their toddlers (as if it was any of my business – oops). Here I am, a changed woman. A toddler nursing mother. An avid breastfeeding supporter. A treasurer of breastfeeding moments.

Here we are. Two wonderful, happy and beautiful years with our little girl. Two years of holding her close and nurturing her. Two years of love and worry. It doesn’t get any better than this. Happiest of birthdays to my precious daughter!


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