Breastfeeding is more important than Sleep

At least, that’s my assessment of my own values after a recent nighttime incident.
Baby had fallen asleep at 9ish. It had been a long, late week and I was completely wiped. After mad computer work for a few hours, I finally crashed a bit before midnight. When I woke, I wasn’t sure where I was. It was dark, and baby was still sleeping. I checked the clock: 4:30!! Wow, that is one of the longest stretches baby has ever gone for. Sleeping for 4+ hours in a row had already left me more rested than usual, though I still needed many more.

After a quick trip to the bathroom, I tried to get back to sleep. I thought, never wake a sleeping baby. I thought, let her keep this sleep trend going. I thought, I really need my sleep.

I couldn’t do it. My breasts were feeling full of milk, or at least, as full as mine ever feel. Though I keep making milk, it’s not much and I’ve had a few days here and there of quite low supply. Going all night without nursing could make my supply drop off quite suddenly. Worrying about this made it impossible for me to sleep.

So, I moved baby over and brushed her lips with my breast until she woke up enough to nurse. She did both sides, and I was finally able to relax and sleep. She did wake up a few more times after that before morning, but it was worth it to me. I did what I could to keep breastfeeding, and I survived (and still do) and whatever sleep I can get.

Why nursing rocks: A toddler’s perspective

As I was nursing baby the other day, I commented to her on how much she is wanting to nurse lately. She is on and off of my breasts a LOT. One of her new favourite things is “two ope” (two open – i.e., both breasts out and uncovered). She loves to be able to see them and switch back and forth as her taste buds guide her.
Anyways, I was talking with baby about her love of nursing and asked her, “do you love it because you’re close to your mama?”
“Mm hmm!” she answered, still nursing away.
Then she popped off my breast and added, “Fun too! Play too!” and went back to it.

So, according to this toddler, nursing is great for bonding with your parent and having fun and play-time. That’s really encouraging for me as it makes me feel a bit better about the time I do spend with her. Nursing is lots of great things, including bonding and play.

And play we do. She likes to rub her hand over my skin, then smack me like a drum. Then try to hit (but I stop that :)). Then play hide and seek. Then I’ll tickle her or run my fingers up her legs, and she’ll smile. All kinds of fun!

Time and experiences

Today I had the gift of some time and time-free experiences. After a reasonable night’s sleep, girlie woke up at 6:30 to nurse. And went back to sleep! My alarm was set for 6:40 and I felt pretty awake after a couple of longer sleep stretches, so I got up.
Aaah, time to myself in the morning! I showered; dressed; hung up wet diapers; filled bottles for the day; made tea; made oatmeal; filled out an election ballot to mail; made a to-do list for work; prayed; packed up bags; and got some reading done for the paper I’m slowly working on. So delightful to have time to get ready for the day and feel that loose ends are tied up as I leave the home!

Baby woke up at 7:30 and nursed for quite a while. Nursing is turning into the most magical experience in my life right now. This sweet little person reaches out for me and relaxes at my breast. I hold her, smooth her hair, cuddle her, talk with her, love her. It’s our time together, and it’s the best in the world. I wish all mothers the opportunity to nurse, and nurse long – it is truly one of the greatest gifts of motherhood.

Baby fell asleep on the way home from work and I carried her in and put her to bed. I had a lovely dinner that husband prepared (thank you!!), then a fabulous hot bath with a book. So soothing! (reading “welcome to your child’s brain” – a great survey of brain research to date). Then, of course, baby woke up and husband brought her in to me. Once crying baby was in the bath and latched on, she calmed right down. She nursed and nursed on one side, then with a sigh, moved her head over and settled into my chest.

Oh … heaven. Sweetest baby softness resting herself over my heart.

She moved to the other breast then, sucking away for a long time, then back and forth. She was eating and also connecting, calming down, relaxing and having fun at the end of a busy day. She didn’t want to get out of the bath in the end, even after playing for a while, but we insisted as the bathwater was getting cold.

Now she’s awake, I’m exhausted, but very grateful for the time and moments that made up today.