Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Weaning Bella

When I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, I was told I should go on medication. Before I went back to my neurologist to discuss this and get a prescription, I had already done some research about seizure medications. Pretty much all of them stated that it was not recommended to nurse while taking the drugs. My heart sank. My daughter is just 9 1/2 months old, still nursing almost exclusively and she seems to need me so much more than I ever thought she would at this age. As I started the weaning process, I tried to prepare for the nightmare I knew we both were going to have.

Nursing Bella isn't just about sustenance. It is also about bonding, about comfort, about feeling safe and being allowed the stability the act creates, being allowed all aspects of the nature of a baby and milking them for all they're worth.
(pardon the pun!) How am I to all of the sudden tell her that she isn't allowed to have any of that any longer? She isn't allowed to have Mommy in all the ways she's used to. She has to instead eat more solids, take a bottle of nasty formula and go to sleep at night without the familiarity of a breast in her mouth and warm flesh to hang on to. She's too young to even understand the reasons and all she knows is that Mommy is no longer available. In essence, she is being forced to grow up a little.

I look at my beautiful brown eyed girl as I'm trying to make her take a bottle and she's crying and she's desperately trying to nurse but all she can have is this bottle filled with a thick substance that might be "good enough" for her but isn't perfect like Mommy's milk. And I ache. I ache deep within me for her and for myself. This shouldn't have to be so hard. Can she suck on that bottle and expect the perfect mixture of everything her tiny body needs like what she can get from my breasts when her saliva sends signals to my body? Can she still snuggle into my chest, wrapping her arms around my side and across my belly as she massages my flesh and stares into my eyes? This is a natural action that comes with the territory of breast feeding. It's the way God intended it to be. It does not come with sticking a plastic bottle with a rubber nipple in her mouth when all she really wants is to press herself against me, latch on to my full breasts and once again feel like she's part of me as she fills her hungry belly.

Twelve days into taking my medication, I developed a horrible full-body rash. I was then told to stop taking the medication immediately and wait for the rash to go away. Upon its disappearance, I would be put on a different medication. At first, I was thrilled. At least for a little while, I could nurse my baby again. But I realized that all of the weaning process I had already started would be completely erased if I went back to nursing her whenever she wanted. So I pumped. A few times. But that really wasn't working and she wasn't convinced; she's too smart to be tricked. Despite the familiar flavor of the milk, it just wasn't the same. So I have been continuing the weaning process, despite the fact that I have two perfectly functioning breasts producing perfectly untainted milk.
It's been a tough road. My rash has gone away and I will have to go back to the neurologist to get a new prescription. We still nurse a little at night but soon that will have to cease all together as well. I am starting to wonder...What do babies dream about when they can't fall asleep latched on to the warm nipples of their mommies' breasts? What sort of comfort can my Bella possibly get from cold rubber nipples that secrete some chemically engineered sour smelling liquid that doesn't contain even half of what she needs? And when will she be able to wake up from this nightmare?

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