Nora’s Food Journey: My thoughts after 21 months of nursing!

posted by Andrea | 02/27/2014

Nora's Food Journey

Every single day for the past 3 years, I’ve been growing AT LEAST one other human being from my own body. 

That’s right friends… I’ve either been pregnant, nursing, or both for approximately 1,104 days straight.

And while I realize that is quite miraculous (it really is if you stop and think about it) I can guarantee that my pre-baby self would have laughed hysterically if you said, “you’ll nurse your first child for TWENTY-ONE months.”

But that’s what I did.

Not because I don’t believe in feeding babies solid food ASAP, not because it was cheaper than formula, not because it was best for my baby, and certainly not because I wanted to.

I nursed Nora for 21 months out of sheer necessity for her survival. 

Although we introduced a pacifier within hours of her birth, tried bottles of pumped breast milk starting her first week of life, tried a variety of formulas after 2-3 weeks, and even tried baby cereal at 4 months; she made it VERY clear that she would starve before accepting any of those “imitation products”.

The whole feeding process has been a VERY long journey for Nora and for me — and one I promised I would talk more about back in this post. So since I’ve gotten mass amount of emails asking for more information about our “feeding journey”, I figure I better squeeze in this post before Baby #2 arrives and I need to start all over again!

The Very Beginning: My Pre-Baby Expectations.

Between my friends and my relatives, pretty much all the young moms I knew were breast-feeding — so that’s what I was planning to do too. I knew the facts, I knew that nursing was fabulous for both baby and mom, I knew it would help me lose my baby weight, and I knew it was cheaper than formula.

I also knew that there was NO WAY I was going to let myself be consumed with breast-feeding. If it worked and was relatively easy, I would do it. If not, I had absolutely no issue switching to formula.

While I admire women who “stick it out” and basically live to breast-feed their children, that was not me at all and there was no part of me that was going to let anyone make me feel less of a women if I couldn’t (or just didn’t want to) nurse my baby.

Everyone told me it would be difficult. Everyone told me it would be painful. Many people told me I would want to quit after just a few days because of how exhausting and overwhelming the whole process was.

So while I was totally fine with a little pain and discomfort, I was not willing to spend weeks and months of my life stressing over breast-feeding when there were plenty of other options available.

Dave and I decided early on that we would just see how it went, and that ultimately, I would make the decision to breast-feed or not (little did we know, Nora would actually make that decision for us!)

.

The First Few Days: Nora Nursed Like a Champ!

Within about 20-30 minutes after Nora was born, she was nursing like a champ. The doctors and nurses said I was “a natural” — which obviously felt good since I knew I had no idea what I was doing.

Nora and I never had any issues with nursing, it was never painful, I never had any complications, and it was WAY WAY easier than I ever thought it would be (I’m not trying to brag because I know this is a very sensitive issue — I’m just telling my story). Keep reading and you might not be so envious :)

As I mentioned above, we tried a couple different pacifiers and bottles right away — since I didn’t want her to be totally dependent on me, and since we obviously weren’t having any issues with breast-feeding. However, much to my dismay, she rejected everything we tried.

I told myself it wasn’t the end of the world and I could handle nursing exclusively for 4-6 months — after all, she was super efficient and could suck down a FULL feeding in 7-9 minute flat!

I figured that by 4-6 months, she would probably be more accepting of other foods… so we could switch over to baby food and formula at that time.

.

The next 9 months: Still No Luck

We regularly tried introducing different bottles and sippy cups  during the first 6 months of her life — but still no luck. We also tried rice cereal regularly starting at 4 months and various baby foods around 6-9 months, but she definitely was not happy about that.

Since she was in the 98th percentile and growing like crazy, the doctors weren’t concerned with her non-eating — and all our family and friends assured me that some kids just took longer to start eating.

I wasn’t overly concerned, but I was getting weary of nursing so often (she still ate about every 2 hours around the clock) and I had extreme anxiety worrying about what we would do if something happened to me and I couldn’t feed Nora anymore.

By her 9-month check-up, the doctor was starting to get just a little concerned that she wasn’t eating ANYTHING at all — but assured me that Nora was super healthy and that she couldn’t see anything wrong with her throat, mouth, etc.

So I kept nursing — figuring it’s totally normal to nurse for a full year.

.

12-17 months: Lots of Frustration

By Nora’s first birthday, I was starting to get really frustrated with her refusal to eat any food. The ONLY foods she would even try to eat were tiny amounts of yogurt and a few Rice Krispy puffs (which she usually gagged on).

We had spent hours and hours and hours over the past several months trying to get her to eat anything, but still no progress. I was SO tired of nursing all day and night and literally couldn’t go anywhere for more than a couple hours otherwise Nora would scream non-stop until I came back to feed her.

It was to the point where I was regularly making excuses as to why I couldn’t participate in certain business and personal opportunities because the excuses were easier than trying to explain that I still had to nurse my 17-month old child every 2 hours!

When Nora was 16-17 months old, we went through a series of tests and therapy sessions with a local very well-renown organization. We confirmed that there was nothing wrong with her throat, her tongue, her mouth, or anything else that would physically prevent her from being able to eat normally.

It was a relief that nothing was seriously wrong — but at the same time, it was super frustrating because we were right back at square one with nowhere to turn. The therapy that everyone told us would FOR SURE WORK didn’t work… and the only progress we had made was that Nora would now eat mashed potatoes and macaroni.

.

18-21 Months: FINALLY, Some Progress!

At 18 months, I found a new therapy program (almost by accident) that was extremely close to our home and MUCH less expensive than the previous therapy program. I was hesitantly optimistic, but figured I didn’t have much of a choice, so we signed up and headed to our first therapy session (here’s the link to their website).

It was 100% different than anything we had tried with Nora, and I felt really good leaving that first day. We immediately started a “brushing” regimen with a special skin brush and listening to special music on headphones.

We noticed a difference right away — and over the next 2-3 months, Nora became MUCH more willing to eat basic foods like cheese, bananas, pasta, fish crackers, etc.

Also, for the FIRST TIME EVER, we found a sippy cup she would actually drink from (yes, she refused all bottles and sippy cups for a full 17 months!)

By 21 months, I was only nursing her once or twice a day and I literally felt like I had my life back.

Hallelujah!

Of course, when she was 20 months old, I realized I was pregnant again — and although that news was exciting, I couldn’t help but feel slightly depressed knowing that I was starting all over again.

.

22-27 Months: She’s Almost All Caught Up

Nora was 100% finished nursing by 22 months.

Although the variety of foods she ate wasn’t fabulous, she was still growing well, and more importantly, she wasn’t growing from ME!

We aren’t going to therapy anymore, but we continue to see HUGE HUGE progress in Nora’s eating. She’s trying new foods all the time, eating more and more with every meal, and finally willing to feed herself (it was crazy how long she refused to feed herself and only wanted us to spoon-feed her!)

If you didn’t know Nora’s food journey, you most likely wouldn’t think anything was wrong with her eating habits — she even eats lots of veggies!

Obviously, we aren’t totally “out of the woods” and there are still many things we need to work on — like the fact that she still will not drink anything but water — but I’m thrilled to finally be at a point where I can share this update with you.

As I mentioned above, it was a REALLY long process and so much more difficult when we were “in the thick of it” and not knowing exactly if or when we’d see any progress.

In general, I don’t think it would be awful to nurse for 18-20 months IF my child was also eating normal infant and toddler foods along with breast milk to form a more balanced diet. In our situation, Nora was 100% dependent on me which made my life a lot more difficult, and was probably part of her extreme separation anxiety (which, by the way, is also getting better!)

My “plan” for feeding baby #2 is to start out nursing, but to introduce bottles of breast milk and possibly some formula very early on — just because I don’t think I can handle being so tied down for so long again. I’m also planning to be more aggressive with trying different bottles until we find one he likes (if that’s what it takes).

Since I’m the type of person who just can’t nurse in public, being stuck at home all day every day for 21 months was even more than my home-body self could take after a while, and I really don’t want to do that again :)

I realize that how we feed our children is a very personal choice that can also be somewhat controversial — so please know that my goal in writing this post is not to say “you should do it my way”. It’s more to celebrate that Nora is finally eating — especially since so many of you have inquired about her progress.

Thanks so much for following along on our journey and offering your help and support along the way. I’ve gleaned many words of wisdom and tips from your emails and comments — some of which have aided in Nora’s eating success!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: ChildrenFamilyParenting

 
 

58 comments

  1. Laura

    02/28/2014

    I have a 15 month old and recently found out we are expecting #2, and I definitely am struggling with how long we will continue to breastfeed. My 15 month old will eat SOME food, but not a ton. She’s down to nursing 4-5 times a day, but I would love to cut it down to 2-3 and then maybe just at bedtime, and then cut that feed out by the time #2 comes along. Problem is, if I cut down the day time nursing sessions, she feeds all night. She will scream for HOURS if dad tries to calm her instead of me feeding her. I work part time and from home, so my schedule allows me to cater to her needs, but it’s startin to wear me down a bit…then some nights (like last night) she’s nursing every 1-2 hours (teething). Arg! I know we will figure something out, and I’ve loved reading these types of posts!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh Laura, I wish I could give you some helpful advice or tell you some tried-and-true tip that worked for me… but I can’t!

    I’ll just say… hang in there, it’s so hard when you’re doing it, and I know EXACTLY how you are feeling. You just need to do what YOU feel is right and what’s best for your family.

    [Reply]

  2. Jen R.

    02/28/2014

    What a story! It’s definitely something to celebrate that

    1- Nora is eating food on her own and
    2- How amazing your body is that you could be 100% responsible for the nutritional needs of another human for 30 months (9 in utero and 21 post birth) Way to go!

    This is a huge demand for a mother so use a gift card and a coupon and go out and celebrate!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jen! I’ll wait on using those coupons and gift cards until after the baby is born (and I lose the weight) them I’m going to get a few new clothes — it’s been FOREVER since I’ve bought anything nice for myself!

    [Reply]

  3. Kris

    02/28/2014

    Yay to Nora and to you! My youngest has always been more “picky” about food. He was solely bottle fed and we had to try many many different bottles to find one he liked. He ate, but very very slowly and not as much as was normal for his age so we ended up feeding him more often with smaller bottles. He also took a bottle during the night until he was about 15 or 16 months old. He’s still particular about what he eats. And, he only drinks water. That may be one thing Nora sticks with but in all honestly it’s made my older son drink more water too. With only 1 kid drinking juice I stopped buying it. OJ is the only juice I buy now. I do wish my youngest would drink milk but he just does not like it. He likes yogurt and cheese both of which he usually has every day so I figure it’s ok. Good luck with the new baby. I hope he’s a little more easy going with taking a bottle.

    [Reply]

  4. Amy

    02/28/2014

    I just wanted to tell you that you’re a great mom, and I’m so happy that you’re moving past these stages! We also go to the Center for Child Development and they are FANTASTIC. So glad you could get the help you needed!

    [Reply]

  5. lynn

    02/28/2014

    Just a thought, with baby number two you might ask the hospital nursery for “preemie” nipples, they use to be red. They are very very soft and feel more like a natural nipple in the baby’s mouth. Babies that are breast fed take to them much easier than commercially produced nipples. I stock piled them while I was in the hospital, in saved every one from her feedings, and took them home,they lasted at least six months..

    [Reply]

  6. carrie

    02/28/2014

    My nephew also attends the same place for therapy and is making huge gains!

    [Reply]

  7. Kathy

    02/28/2014

    Fabulous news that the new therapy has finally worked and as a mother you didn’t give up in (i) assessing there was no medical reason for her eating problems and (ii) kept at it even when you were an exhausted mother. Now you have done this with Nora you will be better prepared with baby number 2 and often having another child around the little ones (ie your new one) pick up things from the older one and learn quicker because there is another little person to copy. Nora is the first and therefore is not watching anyone do these things (apart from her parents) so you might find things will naturally fall into place with baby number 2. And let me tell you kids have a way of pushing their parents into doing what they want and as a parent you do not want to see your child starve so it’s the catch 22 – same place, different day. Same with the sleeping, if they know you are going to give in and have them in your bed if they scream or get out of the cot, then they’ll try that on. Every parent, every child and every family is different but I do know everytime I watch “The Super Nanny” on Tv I pick up ideas and remember I’m the adult, parent. Great work on getting her off the boob because your body needs to be focusing on your next baby. Neither of my kids took dummy’s/pacifiers (i) because I wasn’t keen on “getting them off them” but I tried it with my 2nd child knowing I also had a 2 year old toddler to look after but she didn’t want it and got her self to sleep. All the best with your new baby. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

    [Reply]

  8. heather

    03/01/2014

    Is there a name for the therapy program. My daughter is Nora and while I’m not stressed or nervous about her growth or intelligence, I certainly would welcome anything that might better support her process. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I don’t think there is a “name” for the therapy — we just brush her with a special brush and listen to special music (they just downloaded a few tracks onto our MP3 so I don’t know if there is a name for the music either.

    It’s all for “sensory processing disorder” so you could ask more about treatment for that.

    [Reply]

  9. Pyper

    03/04/2014

    Wow – you are my hero! I had 2 kids who would only take mom – no bottles & no pacifiers BUT they also transitioned to solid food fairly easily. I could not imagine having to do that for almost 2 years. I know that you just did what you needed to for your child, and I know I would have done the exact same thing in your position (What else could you have done?) but still – my hat off to you!! And I’m so glad Nora is doing better!

    [Reply]

  10. Techgrl

    03/04/2014

    Andrea,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with Nora! Would you mind in going in to some more detail about the kind of therapies that worked for her? What is the “brushing” that you wrote about? And what kinds of sounds did she hear that helped? If you know of any websites you could point me to, that would be wonderful as well.

    Thank you!

    [Reply]

  11. Krista

    03/19/2014

    My 2nd child would not eat any food or take a pacifier until she was 13 months. She wouldn’t even eat her 1st bday cake! She nursed for 28 months and it was hard to wean her – she would have kept going if I had let her. We are using “Baby Led Weaning” (confusing title does not mean weaning but introducing solids) with my third baby and that is going well so far she is 8 months.

    [Reply]

  12. Anne

    03/21/2014

    I really enjoyed this post. I got very bad vasospasms (which can lead to permanate nerve damage) from nursing our daughter and even with extensive intervention, we couldn’t get them under control. At one month, we switched to exclusively formula. I had a lot of guilt as we live in a region of the country where some people, including some medical professionals, act like formula is poison. However, at 16 months old our daughter is very healthy and developing quite well. It was nice to hear about your struggles having to breastfeed for so long and that you wish you could have given bottles. it makes me appreciate that every parent has his/her unique struggles. I hope you have an easier time feeding your new baby. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

Leave a comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.