Big Switch Update: Part 1

In my inbox this morning was a post from a fantastic mindful parenting blog I like. The first sentence of the post is this:

“A child’s flow is a powerful force, like the traffic on a highway.”

The words that struck me were “powerful.”  One of the reasons I am drawn to Attachment Parenting is that it aims to teach parents how to interact with children with true respect. My needs are equally important as my daughter’s needs are. I have no desire to force my power over my daughter. She is powerful and perfect just as she is and I try very hard to listen to her and respect her needs AND wants.

The post came in a timely manner, because this weekend I attempted to use the Lact Aid with Penelope and it has me deeply questioning whether I am going with my daughter’s flow or if I am trying to force my power over her.

The Lact-Aid is a bag of milk that hangs around your neck, with a piece of tubing that comes out the top. You put the tube on your nipple and then latch baby on. They get milk from you AND the Lact Aid. Its similar to Medela’s Supplemental Nursing System or SNS, but its engineered differently so the way the milk flows and the vacuum/suction works is different. Because of this I had heard a lot of women who find success with the Lact-Aid system even after the SNS failed them, like it failed us. I wish I had heard about the Lact-Aid when Penelope was  tiny baby and also when she first started comfort nursing at 5 months. Things might have been different. Sigh.

She had a really hard time this weekend with the Lact-Aid. She varied from simply turning her head away from my nipple and wanting nothing to do it, to being completely distracted by the bag and tubing and playing with it, to screaming hysterically like I was poking her with a hot torch. The crying is what really got me thinking: “What am I doing!?!”  Why am I am trying to do something she clearly does not want to do? I would never force her to do something in other parts of our life, so why is  it OK to try and force her to use the Lact-Aid? Does the benefits of 100% nursing somehow trump all my parenting values? I don’t think so. It seems like forcing her to use the Lact-Aid is a step in the wrong direction. She gets everything she needs now already, 100% breast milk from me because of pumping and all the comfort she needs from comfort nursing. I am trying to quit bottles and go to full time nursing, purely for myself and my needs of wanting to stop pumping.

When I spoke the owner on the phone (which by the way, he was wonderful and kind), he told me to patient and that its a process, especially with an older baby. But it just feels wrong. He gave me some tips, like to try and cover the Lact Aid with a scarf (what a joke) and to try and slip in the tubing when she was drowsy/asleep, which I did and even when she was asleep, sliping in the tubing woke her up and made her cry. Once she was totally asleep I was able to get it in, without waking her up, but by that point she was, well, asleep and not sucking very much at all, so what is the damn point to have the tubing in her mouth is she is not sucking!

Parts of me wonder if I am giving up on the Lact Aid too soon. Having her turn away from me and not want to latch on, or to cry, brought back so many feelings of rejection from when she was a tiny baby and wouldn’t nurse. Even though I know it was not personal, and she physically could not latch and nurse, it was still very painful to have breasts FULL of milk and have my baby to turn away or cry. So parts of me wonder if I am giving up because I can’t handle the rejection anymore.

Other Big Switch updates:

  • The sippy cups still have not arrived!
  • Increasing solids is going good. The girl really likes eggs, meat and fruit!
  • Its been three nights with no night time bottle and that is going ok. She is waking up a lot more, but I think it has more to do with her developmental stage…she just started WALKING!!
  • We have been watching lots of YouTube videos of baby’s her age nursing and reading the book Mama’s Milk. It is such a cute book!
  • I am also going to do some more research about renting a scale again to see if it works with an older baby like her, who is 22 pounds by the way!

So what do you guys think? Go with my gut or am I giving up too soon on the Lact Aid?

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  • Andréann
    September 13, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    You should trust your feeling lady!

    congrats little girl for starting to walk! 😀

  • heathermhs
    September 13, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    Hugs, mama. I hear you on feeling rejection at the breast so sharply. It seems so … Personal!

    One thought – your needs are just as important as hers. Sometimes it's OK to do something that's important to you even if it's hard for her (or both of you). I'm just sayin'.

    I'd be willing to bet that it's useful to have her suck in her sleep. She'll get a little milk and get used to it.

  • Jamie Willow
    September 13, 2010 at 11:57 PM

    this is a hard call and really one only you can make…

    One huge part of breastfeeding (and parenting in general) is trusting each other and listening to each others cues…if you are getting cues from her that are making you question your plan, you need to pay attention to them…and maybe just readjust your plan instead of quitting the plan all together…

    maybe only using the lact aid at certain points…or letting her play with it in a non pressure setting to explore it and see that it's not scary…or…well, you probably can think of other ideas that could ease the transition.

    it may be a transition to something more positive but it is still a change and your daughter may just need more time to adjust to the "new". Her "powerful force" may be flowing in a different direction than you want but the expression I have always heard is "big ships can't make sharp turns" A little at a time and before you know it her powerful force will be going the way you envision as her parent and most loving mom.

    anything you decide will be okay. It is clear you do everything with much thought and care…

  • MamaEm
    September 15, 2010 at 3:46 AM

    Just wanted to say hi 🙂 I came over from Rhythm of the Home, where I loved your Moroccan Babywearing article. I'm enjoying your blog. My daughter was born 3 days after yours and almost named Penelope, too! Congrats on making it 10 months with pumping and nursing. I can't imagine how difficult your situation must be, doing both every day, but your dedication and persistence is admirable and inspiring. Sending good thoughts your way 🙂

  • Jen and Eric
    September 15, 2010 at 7:52 AM

    *sigh* My heart goes out to you! Wow. This sounds really, really tough! Have you thought of retiring the LactAid for a week or so and trying again after a bit? The unfamiliarity may be more of what's turning Penelope off to the LactAid, rather than anything inherent in the device itself. Jamie Willow's idea of letting Penelope play with it in a relaxed setting also sounded hopeful to me. I sure wish you all the best!!

    "It is best to do what brings peace and joy to you and your family."
    ~ Rita Brhel

  • Stephanie
    September 15, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    Thanks for all the comments! You all are so awesome!

  • Melissa
    September 17, 2010 at 3:14 AM

    By ten months, if she's eating a variety of solid foods, nursing is not really as much of a nutritional issue. My youngest is 10 months and during the day he nurses five minutes here, five minutes there. It all adds up. If you get P nursibg for short periods several times a day she'll get what she needs and you'll get what you need. Blessings on you both.