The beginning of the end.
January 18, 2010

Next Sunday, solid food will cross Charlotte’s lips for the very first time.

I have been looking forward to giving my daughter solid foods since the moment that she was first put to my breast.  But now that I am faced with the reality of plopping mush on a spoon, I find myself surprisingly reluctant.

Slurp.  Snort.  Suck.  Smooch.  Love.

My initial reaction to breastfeeding was that it was a horrible and unnatural process.  Every second of those first feedings was awful – drawing out the nipple was excruciating, holding and suckling were physically demanding, and breaking the latch was stressful.  I cried at the idea of enduring another nursing session and I thought about giving up all the time.

Donald and I investigated every sore-nipple solution known to mankind.  I tried warm washcloths and gel soothies and hot/cold compresses.  I tried breast shells and nipple shields and copious quantities of lanolin.  I tried every feeding position imaginable and ibuprofen and pumping hourly around the clock.  I tried hand-expressing twice daily in a warm shower.

But then it got better.

And truth be told, breastfeeding Charlotte has turned out to be one of the single most rewarding experiences in my life.  I love listening to her murmur contentedly as I nurse her to sleep.  I love holding her hand when she suckles in the morning.  I love how she twirls my hair and looks up at me to giggle and kneads the breast when the let-down is delayed.  I love that she falls asleep with the nipple in her mouth and a smile on her lips.

In retrospect, it almost seems like choosing to spend six months feeding my baby boob-juice was simple, natural, and brilliant.  But I know that it was not.  The nursing relationship we established took both blood and tears, so I am shamelessly, passionately proud of it.  I love what we share and I am grateful that we have built this relationship together despite the difficulties.

So even as I know that feeding Charlotte solid foods will be wonderful – even as I know that this is a happy milestone and that this will bring so many bonding memories for my husband – I cannot help but mourn just a little bit.  She is ready, of course, but I guess that I am not.

I wish that the woman I was when I had just delivered my child, just had my bleating baby covered in goo placed on my chest, just recoiled and whimpered in pain as Charlotte found my nipple, just begged my husband not to make me go through one more feeding?  Oh, how I wish that woman could see me now.

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  1. By Heather @ The Joyful Kitchen on January 18, 2010

    this is a beautifully written post Sarah.  the funny thing is i’ve learned more about the emotional of having a baby from you than i have from any of my friends who’ve had them!  i love the descriptions; reading your account of your life since having a child has made me want one when i never thought i would.  thanks!

  2. By Cambria Copeland on January 18, 2010

    Wonderfully written!  I can completely relate.  I remember those first three weeks of nursing, in a state of complete exhaustion…  Nipples cracking, baby not latching, mastitis. I was on the brink of resorting to bottle feeding with formula. Then suddenly it clicked and was a wonderful experience (and so easy - no bottles to lug with me!).  I was sad when it came time for solids.  And then I was sad when it came time to introduce dairy and meats… But now I look at this little girl, not a baby, at 18 months and I am so proud of those little accomplishments.  Parenthood is such a rollercoaster of emotion, especially when I find myself sad about trivial things such as “my little girl is old enough to eat meat.“

  3. By C @ Kid Things on January 18, 2010

    My daughter has been eating solid foods for a year now and she still prefers the boob. It’s not the end, believe me, unless you want it to be.

  4. By Sarah A. Schlothan Christensen on January 18, 2010

    C - No way!  I feel like I worked much too hard to get breastfeeding to work for me to just give it up at six months.  Oh.  And all that health stuff too.  Yeah, that.

    Heather - If you do have a baby, I know that you’ll love motherhood.  I’m glad you enjoy the blog, but it’s just a fraction of what motherhood is like.  Trust me, it’s awesome =)

  5. By Natballs on January 18, 2010

    I gave Jonah cheerios on Friday. He ate, like, 5. lol. Other than that I haven’t started “solids”... I want to delay as long as possible but he is showing extreme interest in everything we eat- I think he’s readay.

  6. By Monica on January 18, 2010

    Oh man.  This was/is tough for me as well.  With Eliot, I would actually start to cry at the very thought of feeding him something not produced by ME.  With Ivy, she luckily didn’t really like solids, so I got a gentler break-in to the new routine.  She is now 10 months old, and still nursing 3-4 times a day… and I’m completely happy with that!  I think I’ll be ready to wean her when she’s, like, 40 or so.

  7. By Stephanie on January 18, 2010

    Awww. :) This is a gorgeous post.

    If it makes you feel better, it took Jasper quite a while before we could actually substitute solid food for any meals, and even now, he only skips two nursing sessions and nurses all the time at night and like.. 4 times during the day.

  8. By on January 18, 2010

    I don’t know what you plan to do for baby food, but I have been making my Charlotte’s food. (I have a Beaba Babycook, but you could achieve the same results with a steamer basket and a blender)

    Anyway, what I wanted to say was that I also get some satisfaction out of knowing that I MADE her food, I didn’t just buy it in a jar.

    And also, she’ll still be nursing for a while, a long while if you want.

    And it’s fun to watch their reaction to new foods.

  9. By Jasmine on January 18, 2010

    What a lovely post! I had to stop breast feeding Isaiah at 9 months because of emergency surgery and painkillers. I can’t wait to feed Addison. I LOVED nursing.
    I also made Isaiah’s food. We just steamed it and tossed it in the food processor. It was a great way for my husband to connect with Isaiah.

    Good luck lady!

  10. By on January 18, 2010

    Gosh…why do you ALWAYS have to make me cry?

  11. By Elizabeth Mackey on January 18, 2010

    Best advice I ever got from a hippie baby doctor was always feed your baby what you are eating (Within reason mind you) That way, your child will develop a good taste for ‘real food.“ He told me that when you feed a baby jar food, it should only be if you are traveling or an emergency.
    Both my daughters ate like champs and were never picky. Also, don’t fall for the trap most young parents do and cook “kid “ food, because you think they may not like what you are eating!  I have seen it derail the child from developing a good palate.
    If I were a young mom today, I would invest in the babycook system where it steams and then purees it all in one.
    Both my daughters enjoyed breastfeeding with solids for quite some time :) Good luck, and you did a great job in detailing the ups and downs with breastfeeding.

  12. By Lauren on January 18, 2010

    This was a lovely post for me to read, as I am about to go through the mill of having my 2nd child, and I am wondering if my initial feelings about breastfeeding from the first time (My goodness, when she comes off will my nipple fall off too?) will cloud my vision of the joy to come when it all settles down. If it does, I’ll come read this post to remind myself. :)

    Oh, and I’m another one who made my baby’s food and has a toddler who eats everything. She will quite literally scoff down a plate of steamed vegetables and love it. My other unsolicited advice is introducing vegetables before fruits helps as well :)

  13. By on January 18, 2010

    I have been reading your blog for awhile, but have felt too shy to comment. But, I just wanted to say that I love reading your adventures of motherhood and it makes me even more excited to be a mom than I already was (and that’s a lot!). Thank you so much for sharing. And for being really real. I love that about your writing. You don’t put your rose colored glasses on, but you still manage to make the world look pretty!

  14. By on January 18, 2010

    it’s always so nice to know someone else has gone through the same…that’s why i love your blog.
    the beginnings of nursing my baby boy were hell - my left nipple bled from day two - the LC forced me to latch him on that side again an hour after the first vampirish grin and i cried soooo hard.  she was lovely and held me and made me feel nromal for being terrified of my son!  one of the nurses told me she had never seen a child with such a strong suck in all her years of nursing and laughed at that fact - it also made me feel my terror was normal! 
    i pumped that side for awhile and nursed him on the other side exclusively - i swore i would be a one breast woman but after a weird reaction to the plastic pump shield and one month of mustering up the courage, i relatched him on that side and fought through a week of shattered glass nursing and now months later, he won’t take a bottle and i am only occasionally inconvenienced by that!  i love giving my son life with my own body!!  AND i introduced solids at 4 months (he too is almost 6 months)!  this guy is freakin’ HUNGRY!!!! and i STILLLLLLLLLL have to BF him every 2 hours!!!  so don’t worry - solids are fun and i look at it as training and entertainent.  in my experience so far, only my body gives my baby comfort, warmth, satisfaction, giggles and that beautiful bond that i cherish.  they told me i would forget the oain and i said “yah right”  and i haven’t forgotten it, but i am glad it did not win!

  15. By Stephanie on January 18, 2010

    We still have another four months before we have that first feeding and I, too, am a little hesitant. I hope to charish it as long as motherly possible.

  16. By The Lumberjack's Wife on January 18, 2010

    They grow up too fast, don’t they?

  17. By on January 19, 2010

    First off, let me say good for you for keeping on with breastfeeding even though you wanted to give up. It sounds like you went through quite a struggle, I don’t know any woman who had to struggle as much as you and succeeded… You are officially my hero of nursing, and I will look to this entry when/if I have trouble nursing any of my future babes.

    Secondly, I know exactly how you feel. I was okay with introducing rice cereal to my daughter, after all it’s mixed with breastmilk and she wasn’t getting enough to replace a nursing session. However, one day I was reading that you should start to introduce snacking, to encourage self feeding and hopefully self weaning… No less than one second after reading that, I started bawling. I felt like I was becoming obsolete, like my daughter would no longer want my nipple in her mouth.

    The good news for me, a mother who so selfishly needs that bond with her daughter, is that we’re now at two food meals a day, and she still wants to nurse after those two meals. The bad news for me, a mother who is going to start trying for a second child within a few months, is that now I’m starting to worry about weaning her off my breast and breaking her little heart because mommy won’t whip it out even for a little bit of comfort. As much as it will break my heart, part of me hopes that she will just deny my boob one day… As if she just became aware of the fact that she’s sucking on her mom’s nipple… Eww…

  18. By on January 19, 2010

    I’ve been reading since Jessica Claire linked you on her blog a bit ago…and I have just LOVED your writing. I’m sorry for never commenting, I usually read with my 8.5 month old climbing all over me. He is my first, and I relate so much to so many of your posts. Including this one. I was so scared to start feeding him solids because I was sure he would like them more than nursing. I think I was jealous, too. Jealous of other food! But everything is OK, he isn’t really crazy about solids. I’m still his favorite!
    Thanks for sharing your heart. I love reading!

  19. By Elly on January 19, 2010

    Oh! I just read a brilliant post about introducing babys to solids for the first time. I don’t know if it’ll be your cup of tea (each to their own, babies and parents are all kinds of wonderful different) but just in case, you can find Ryan (from Pacing the Panic Room)‘s post here - He links to Gabi from an Honest Fare, and you can find her post here:

    :) Love these posts, too, hey. You often only hear how brilliant breastfeeding is, so it’s nice to know that sometimes it takes a bit of love and hard work to get there. Thanks for sharing x

  20. By Hannnah on January 21, 2010

    Aww I understand exactly how you feel.

  21. By Sarah on January 22, 2010

    Completely understand. My daughter was EBF until shortly after 6 months and as the day approved, I was less and less excited. Just another step in her becoming independent…doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.

    Anyway, we skipped the whole pureed stage and followed Baby-led Weaning (BLW) concepts. It has been more of an"inspired by BLW” than hardcore BLW, but MP has done fabulous with it and loves her food. I put a link to an entry I did on our experience in case you’re curious.

  22. By Julia on January 24, 2010

    I’m still wondering if I’ll introduce solids at 6 months for our next child.  For some reason, it just doesn’t seem natural to me if they don’t have teeth yet.  Link got molars not too long ago and his eating has gotten WAY better.





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