Breastfeeding with Donor Milk and Nursing from the Heart

So, I give Porcelain about 16 ounces of donor breastmilk every day and she’s really starting to eat solids. Back when Animal and Mineral were babies, I bought jars and jars of baby food. The pureed kind, mushy and gross-smelling. I think I used them with The Informant too. By the time I had My Masterpiece, I made my own fruit or veggie puree in a food processor. Now, I just give the baby whatever I’m eating (except perhaps a little less chocolate). Tonight she had a strata with vegetables and ham. She loved it. And thus, we officially enter a new time in her life:  she’s not doing much nursing.

Since I first realized that she wasn’t gaining well, I had hoped starting solids would mean my supply would be enough nourishment and I could stop supplementing. But… no. Porcelain eats, she nurses a little bit, and then she drinks a bunch of donor milk.

This could just be a break or a strike, or the fact that she’s almost mobile and therefore too busy to nurse all the time — or she’s simply getting enough to eat, and doesn’t need to be on my breasts all the time — but overall I’m sensing a shift in my boobs’ job. We’re relegated to comfort-only.

At first I was a little sad about this, because I love nursing. I love sitting with her and watching her drink the milk I’ve made, smelling her sweet baby skin and hair, which might smell a little like my armpit. I love cuddling her. But the good news is that she hasn’t given up on nursing — she’ll still nurse whenever I offer my breast. That’s actually the great news, the best news.

Breastfeeding is feeding a baby from the breast; nursing is a relationship. Even if I’m not breastfeeding her much, we’re still nursing and we still have all the inherent closeness that comes with nursing. I still pick up on her nonverbal cues in a way that I never did with the first three kids; I know when she cries from hunger versus tiredness, I know the look she gets just before she poops or pees, I know when she’s bored. I know that when she goes down for the night she usually gives one last protest squawk before she falls asleep. I know all these things because we have a close relationship and we have a close relationship because of nursing.

So, even though I’ve become a bit passe as far as caloric nourishment goes, I’m going to continue nursing because I know I still nourish her heart. Just like she has always nourished mine.

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