Monday, March 19, 2012

18.3.12 - Bite me

My son is a glorious eater. He likes pretty much anything you feed him and demands more, RIGHT NOW! Now, I know for a fact this is a blessing; many parents struggle with kids who are fussy or poor eaters, and I have luckily been spared that. However, baby boy is currently getting three top teeth, has a blocked nose, started biting me and has gone, sporadically, on a "breastfeeding strike." His first ever favorite food, breastmilk, is being rejected. 

So mummy feels like she's been dumped. Because it's all about me, of course.

After a quick read of ten or so articles (I'm trying to cut back) I realize persistence is key, although I have crumbled a few times and given him a bottle (he has two bottles of formula a day at daycare, but I still breastfeed morning, evening and all weekend). In whatever case, I realize I need to be strong and just keep offering him the boob, no matter how rejected I feel when he thinks everything else in existence is more interesting.  It just strikes me though how emotionally invested I am in him rejecting the breast.

I should just be happy that he eats so much and so well, and keep in mind he was exclusively breastfed for the first six months, as recommended by most doctors and interwebs, who guide most of my parenting. Still, I can't help taking it personally. Of all of the "selfish mum" things I thought I might do (overdress him because I'm cold, not let him do something because I don't think its fun, etc) this was never one of them. Yet it's the proverbial cartoon "dagger, dagger in my heart" when he turns away from my proffered boob. His father is well confused.

For those who have had the privilege of breastfeeding, I needn't go into the many reasons why it rocks; it's the best you can give them, it's special bonding time, it's quick, easy, cheap and helps to protect them against the array of vicious infections out there just waiting to piss you off.  Above and beyond all this, in the most self serving way, it's what I can give him that no daddy or daycare provider can. It's what makes me mummy, with a halo above my head and glowing white light and awesome entry music. My skewed version of reality aside, it just made me special. Yes, I carried him for ten months (that's not a typo, he was late) and yes, I will of course always be mummy but this was my "thing." I don't want to lose my thing! It's mine! No, actually, its ours. And that's when the realization sets in.

My baby boy is growing up. 

I left the nest pretty early - I moved out of home at 19, although after several older siblings before me, I don't think it was as dramatic a shock as it could have been for my parents. Plus, I was rarely home to begin with so for the first few months out of home they probably thought I was still on summer camp. With that in mind, how surprised can I be that my child is "moving on" so early? It's in his blood. That said, his father only moved out when we moved in together and might still be living at home if I hadn't been in the picture so I could be wrong. Note: I'm saying all of this with full recognition that it's a breastfeeding strike, not a complete cessation or weaning, and I really should calm the hell down. But I've been struck with an overwhelming sense of loss over this tiny rejection and need to come to grips with the fact that it's going to be the first of many. 

The honeymoon is over, and I need to start to understand that parenting is the world's trickiest game and most rewarding challenge. My privilege was bringing my son into the world; I owe it to him to let him experience the world as he chooses, while providing the best environment and launching pad possible. That means me not getting my way a lot and him understanding I love him no matter what happens. Which is tough, but exactly what I want for him. In that case, I'll lick my wounds privately and probably indulge them in that second beer I've been waiting so long to have. In short, rather than mourn my loss, instead I think I'll celebrate his ongoing independent gains. Cheers!

Ed note - Since writing this post, the boy has returned to the boob with gusto. I  really annoy myself sometimes...

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