Tuesday, November 25, 2008

17 Kids and No Clue

I was watching an episode of TLC's Seventeen Kids and Counting last night while I pumped (finally got an electric), and something jumped out at me again. I cannot stand when super-duper Christians talk about following God's plan for having children. I am not a Christian, although I am a baptised Catholic. I have my own spiritual beliefs, and I don't judge the beliefs of others (unless they infringe on the rights of people). What I object to is the ignorant statement that God wants things a certain way without any research into the natural order of things. If God created everything in Heaven and Earth, then doesn't it follow that the way nature works is God's design? If that's the case, then not following a natural breeding pattern goes against that design...

There have been lots of studies and observations about what a normal reproductive pattern is for human beings who are not burdened by modern parenting notions. A woman becomes pregnant, her body prepares to make milk to feed the baby, the baby is born and begins nursing, the baby continues to nurse for several years, and during most of that time, the breastfeeding hormones suppress ovulation. If a woman follows the natural path, then she could have a new child every two to three years. There are exceptions, of course, where a woman's hormones don't suppress ovulation like they should, and she can become pregnant sooner. In the book Ecological Breastfeeding and Natural Child-Spacing, the very Christian author points out that our modern idea of breastfeeding isn't enough to allow natural child-spacing. Nursing on a schedule and forcing a baby to sleep through the night is fighting nature (or God). To truly follow the natural pattern, you have to feed on demand and night nurse.

On the show, the family was hosting another giant Christian family. They too were talking about letting God choose how many children they have (number seventeen is on the way). Unless God is making bottles of formula magically appear in their homes, I don't think He is directing their reproduction rate. I have nursed all of my kids on a natural schedule. With my first, my fertility returned at sixteen months, twenty-two months with my second, and twenty months with my third. At that point, getting pregnant was part of the natural cycle of things. My first two children are twenty-nine months apart, and my third was born when my second was forty months old. At that rate, I would say that God's plan for a woman Mrs. Duggar's age is to have approximately eight kids by now, not seventeen...

Friday, November 21, 2008


Well, nursing has still not gone back to what it was before. To make matters worse, I'm heading into another period, and things have gone downhill. The awful feeling that leads to me feeling angry is back. The upside is that I now know that this is all related to hormones and isn't something Grace is doing wrong. Since I've been nursing forever, and this issue has never come up before, I'm at a loss as to what it is. I think I'll have my doctor check my thyroid levels because thyroid problems can lead to lower milk production. Since the whole thing seems linked to my monthly cycle, I don't believe my thyroid is involved, but it's the only thing I can think to check.

I am still pumping once or twice a day, just to keep things going. Grace nurses when she wants to: to fall asleep at night, to wake up in the morning, and a couple of times during the day. We are now officially waiting for a baby to adopt, so I want to make sure I don't stop lactating before that.

On a happier breastfeeding note, I discovered two long-term breastfeeders at one party :) It was held at the home of a friend who nurses way past a year. She has a five month old right now, and one of the other women asked if she was breastfeeding her. My friend started to talk about how long she nursed her other children, and I could tell by her face that she was expecting negative comments. To both of our surprise (and delight), the woman told us that she nursed both of her boys until they were three. Then the other woman at the table mentioned that she nursed her daughters past their second birthdays! That led to a discussion about the ignorance we've all faced because of breastfeeding. What really made me happy about this exchange is that the two moms were not like me. They are much more conservative and are completely religious. It's nice to see that long-term breastfeeding is important to a larger range of people. It is sometimes easy to assume that only people exactly like me share my values, and exchanges like this serve to remind me not to be too quick to judge.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Is This the New Normal?

Well, nursing is still not regular. Grace is asking to do it more than she was for a week, and it is tolerable most of the time. I have been pumping a bit because my breasts feel sort of deflated. I can't tell if supply dropped and caused the weirdness or if her nursing less caused the low supply. Nothing like this happened with either of the other two, so I'm at a loss. La Leche League wasn't much help, which surprised me because they have always been a great support. The volunteer who answered my questions mentioned that Grace may be ready to wean. That's all well and good, and I am totally for child-lead weaning, but the strangeness is happening to me. She wants to nurse more again, and it's still not normal for me. That leads me to believe that I am the one with the problem. I get that a woman's body sends her signals on when to do certain things; that's why it felt painful and weird to nurse while I was pregnant (not that some women don't swear by nursing while pregnant and then tandem after the birth). I went with my body on those occasions. I have no reason to think that my body needs me to stop at this point. I guess I'll just have to give it more time and see what happens.

Grace has happily timed this stress to coincide with dropping her only nap of the day. I am now faced with a cranky toddler from about six until nine-thirty, when she falls asleep. No one else goes to bed that early, so it becomes a delicate dance to keep her asleep until we all go to sleep. If she wakes up, she's ready to go for hours. Last night (Saturday), she fell asleep at nine-thirty and woke up at eleven-thirty. She was up from then until two in the morning! Not great for me.

I keep hoping that things go back to the way they were, but I'm beginning to wonder if this is the way they are going to be from now on.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Spoke Too Soon

Okay, so things are not back to normal. After I posted the last time, the nursing felt "off" again. I bought a pump in case Grace is weaning so that I can keep up a minimal supply to make breastfeeding the new baby a possibility. The thing is that I can't tell what's going on. Sometimes I think she's latching wrong and other times I think it's all my perception. It seems a bit better today, and my period is almost over. I hate that Grace seems hesitant to ask me to nurse sometimes, which I attribute to the way I've been freaking out. I have tried to keep it from her, but she knows that things aren't the same right now. I guess I'll have to see how it goes once my period is completely finished.

I've done a lot of reading in the past week, and apparently it's fairly common for toddlers to go through phases where their latch is off. It seems more usual when the mom has been gone for a few days, which is not the case with us. If Grace is ready to wean, then I don't want it to end on a sad note. Of course, if it kept going on perfectly for both of us, then I guess she'd never stop...