Friday, March 4, 2011

Additional Thoughts On Breastfeeding

If there is one thing that I am repeatedly e-mailed about, or asked about in public quite often, it is breastfeeding.

Nursing Zoelle on her one year old birthday.

I cried while writing this goodbye letter to nursing Zoelle. What I didn't tell you was that she actually nursed on and off after writing that post. If I let her today, she would still nurse. She loves it that much and feels extremely bonded and attached to me through it. :) Oh and she says the milk tastes sweet like strawberries or melons.

I talked openly about the benefits of extended nursing in this post. I still refer back to that post occassionally whenever I get anxious about wanting to wean Meridian and I'm reminded once again that this isn't for me, but for her attachment and health.

Nursing Meridian at 11 months.

I haven't talked much about it, but my adoptive nursing journey with Xiomara has been extremely precious to me. After we finished meeting her birthmom and her birthmom "J" left, I was left with a hungry crying baby in my arms. As Chris signed the adoption papers, they brought a huge rocking chair over into this hallway of the room we were in and I sat down and for the first time brought my little babe to my chest to nurse. I remember I was so scared to nurse a child that I didn't birth. Would she latch on right away? Would she ever be able to quit supplementing? I did not need to be scared. Instantly breastfeeding my little girl made any tension and nerves melt away and I was completely attached to her, and she to I.

What started out almost four years ago as my attempt to only nurse Zoelle six months, has turned into almost four beautiful years of nursing. I have extended breastfed twice, nursed through a pregnancy, and now have adoptive nursed. Has it been always easy? No. Have there been times where I long for weaning? Yes. Have I worried? Absolutely! But the bottom line is, I wouldn't change any of it.

Nursing Xiomara at 1 month.

There is something absolutely precious hearing a toddler ask to nurse and then see her giggle while she asks to change "sides" about a dozen times in a nursing session. It's amazing to know that God created my body to be able to nurse a child not from my womb. I found it extremely helpful to be able to tandem nurse during the first few days of engorgement after my second was born, as my first born then helped so engorgement was no longer an issue. While I don't tandem nurse them at the same time very often, I relish in that sweet moment when I see one sister reach over to grab the other sister's hand.

Precious. Every little tender moment. And I intend to cherish it to the end whenever that may be.

P.S. Stay tuned for a post on my thoughts and advice on tandem nursing.


  1. i LLLOOOOOOOVVVVVEEE this post. for one - it made me completely jealous that i couldnt nurse our daughter - since she came as a foster child. i can only imagine the connection it would have given us. and 2nd - i miss son weaned himself at 15 months...funny i wasn't ready - but he was so i went with it.
    nursing is just beautiful! Way to go mama!

  2. I know what you mean about the connection. Being that I was still nursing Meridian, I knew that I would most likely be able to nurse Xiomara. The main reason I wanted to was for attachment reasons. Oh and I miss nursing Zoelle. :( I imagine it would be super hard if they weaned early like your son did. Thanks for the encouraging words as always!! :)

  3. Can I just tell you how happy it makes me that you are willing/able to nurse X? I love that and could only hope that if I ever adopt I would be able to do the same! Such a precious gift!

  4. Annalise-It makes me happy too! :) Seriously could not have been better timing from God! I hope that one day if you adopt, you can do the same! :)

  5. Wow what a great post! So happy to read this. Thanks for sharing:)

  6. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Vanessa (it's a beautiful one!).

    Forgive my ignorance: So essentially since you were nursing your older daughter, you were able to then nurse your adoptive baby? Did your body just "know what to do" and product the right amount of milk for a newborn?

    P.S. My 2-year-old nurses at night still too and she'll say "side" when she wants to switch. Sweet.

  7. Thank you Stephanie! :) No ignorance, it's good to ask questions! :) Yes, I was nursing my older daughter so I was able to adoptive feed Xiomara. My body did have to adjust to nursing a newborn again. It did take a bit of time to build up a supply to nurse a toddler and a newborn. Thus we had to supplement a bit (some formula and some donated breastmilk). However, once my supply was built up, I was able to nurse with no problems.

    I was just wondering the other day if you were still nursing. It is so adorable when they say "side". :)

  8. Thanks for posting about this! I have been breastfeeding for what seems like an eternity! I started with my oldest, Jacob, and stopped when he died at 6 months. I than got pregnant right away nursed baby #2 till he weaned himself at 14 months, baby #3 till he weaned himself at 18 months, and baby #4 is 16 months and has NO DESIRE at all to wean. I will be honest and tell you I am so done a lot of the time now. But I know that it's something that baby #4 treasures as his mommy and me time and allows him to be closer.

    I have been getting frustrated at him changing sides while nursing so often, none of the other boys did that, so I'm glad to read that it's normal. Mine, although doesn't tell me he wants to switch sides, he just flings himself over to the other side!
    Thanks for blogging on this topic!!

  9. I think that it is wonderful that you were able to (adoptive) nurse your third daughter. Isn't it amazing how our bodies work!

  10. I am new to your blog and love this post! I am 5 months and 5 days into nursing my first babe and it is my absolute favourite thing! I hope, and long, to be able to breastfeed for a long time to come. And am hopeful that my dear sweet girl will let me know when she is ready to move on. This means that I am planning on nursing through my next pregnancy and potentially tandem nursing if my daughter so desires. I gather this is not the easiest thing to do but if its best for all of us then the rewards will far out weigh the challenges!

  11. All Boys-What a journey you have been on. I'm so sorry for the loss of your firstborn son. There are definitely times that I am just ready to be done! I do keep going back though to the fact that this time is so very short. Oh and the changing sides thing is new to me this time around. It kind of is funny at times, and other times, I'm frustrated. I've come to realize that breastfeeding is just a journey. Sometimes it is easy and other times, it is hard. For me, I've just chosen to embrace it and enjoy it while I can!

    Christy-I've so enjoyed nursing her and I am constantly amazed how our bodies work! :)

  12. Your breastfeeding journey is very inspiring. I'm in awe and amazed at what you've accomplished. Very heart touching.

  13. Wow! I don't think that there's any other form of breastfeeding! You've had quite a journey and it's an inspiration to us all. Thank you for sharing such a personal sentiment to encourage us all on our own breastfeeding journeys.

  14. How did I miss this post?? Where was I March 4th? I love hearing about your stories. It encourages me. :)


Feel free to share any jewels or treasures in your comments to me. :)