When it comes to breastfeeding, I know I'm one of the lucky ones. Both of my children latched on minutes after I delivered them via C-section and never looked back. I haven't had mastitis, production or latch issues, dairy intolerances, or any of the host of problems that I've watched derail many of my friends' breastfeeding efforts. I happily breastfed my daughter until she was 14 months old, when she decided to wean herself.
From the beginning, she made it easy on me. Since birth, she was just as content to eat from a bottle (filled with breast milk, formula, or, when she was older, cow's milk) as she was from my breast, so breastfeeding always felt like a special bonding time, not an obligation. Still, I was thrilled when she decided she was done nursing. I had my body back. Without trying, I lost seven pounds (I'm one of the "lucky" ones who has difficulty losing weight while breastfeeding), and for the first time since she was born, I felt like myself. I looked back fondly on our breastfeeding experience, but being done with it was such a revelatory experience for me that I vowed I would only breastfeed my second child for six months, nine tops.
Unfortunately, my son had different ideas. In most aspects, he's been a very easy baby, but when it comes to his milk, it's boob or bust. In his 12 months of life, he's taken exactly zero bottles (and I tried them all). While he's content to eat solids when I'm not around, he'll only drink water in his sippy cups. Even warmed breast milk is met with serious disgust.
Since I stopped working a traditional job after he was born, it's never seemed like that big of deal that he was only getting his milk from me, and frankly, I was too overwhelmed by staying at home with a baby and a toddler to go through the drama of forcing the issue. I was right there most of the time, so why not breastfeed him? It was working for both of us . . . until it wasn't. My son is sweet as pie, but he's also a biter who's cut 11 teeth in the last seven months, and my boobs are his favorite teething toy.
A handful of times, my little guy has chomped down with such force that it's brought tears to my eyes, but mostly he just prefers a constant low-grade gnaw. After each breastfeeding session (and we are down to three or four a day now), I can see the perfect outlines of his top four teeth on my nipple. A few times he's left me with blood blisters from the friction. Yep, his sucking pretty much sucks.
When the painful nursing started, I did all the things the Internet and books tell you you're supposed to do. I screamed loudly, I withdrew my nipple and refused to let him continue nursing, I tried changing our position, and I stuck my fingers in his mouth to force him to open his jaw. Nothing has really solved the problem. But because the kid just loves nursing, I told myself I would just wait it out until he was a year old, when I could start giving him regular milk. He turned 1 last week, and so far, milk isn't a much bigger hit than formula. He might take a few sips, but it's more likely to end up all over my floor than in his belly.
This week, I'm taking more drastic measures, leaving him at home while his sister and I take a five-day trip with my mom. He's not going to be happy (sorry, hubby), but I'm hoping he'll learn that mommy's milk isn't the only game in town.