From Nipples to Noses: A Breastfeeding Twist

My daughter has an obsession with noses….and it’s my fault.

Pregnancy brings with it so many unknowns. Hormones are crazy things, and pregnancy hormones affect every woman differently. They cause changes in all aspects of being, not just physical. One change that I hadn’t thought about much beforehand was how getting pregnant would affect my current breastfeeding relationship with my daughter. As I described in the World Breastfeeding Week Series post on pregnancy and tandem nursing, the shift in our relationship has been difficult for me. It feels hard when my body is saying no and my heart is saying yes. Despite my desires to the opposite, we have a fairly nonexistent breastfeeding relationship consisting of a few minutes of bad latching maybe once a day, if that.

What I hadn’t realized was how difficult weaning has been for my daughter.

There, I said the word I have feared. Weaning. I can’t say that is for sure what is happening. I continue to hope that once the milk comes back in she will relearn her latch and my aversion will go away. Still, if we only nurse maybe once or twice a day and there is no milk are we really still breastfeeding?

It’s been six months since we were in our groove together. Things went down so smoothly that I thought she was ok with it. There were only a few tough moments when she wanted to nurse and was upset when I said “milkies were sleeping.” Lately, though, I get the sense that she is feeling some kind of way about not being able to nurse. Mostly this has seemed connected to seeing other children nurse, particularly friends her age.

Then, the other day I sat with her and watched the birth video I made with “pishurs of Uma,” as she says it. Of course she signed and asked “again” over and over. After the first time or two, she seemed to understand that I was saying that baby was her. She talked about the baby getting milkies. Then she said baby was sad. I asked why baby was sad, and she said baby wanted milkies.

Back to noses.

After that I started to realize that the timing of this nose obsession corresponded to our diminishing breastfeeding relationship. Well, I probably missed signs months back that she was overly focused on noses, but it was cute to hear her say “I toush da nosh.” She touches her babies noses, the dogs’ noses, the cat’s nose, her friends’ noses…..pretty much any nose she can find.

Now, though, the nose thing is in my face regularly (ha) because it seems to have taken the place of nursing to sleep. My naps and nighttimes are spent trying to be patient and fake sleep while she reaches over to hold a hand to my face and touch my nose over and over. And over again. Almost always, if move my head she will move so she can reach my nose again. Most times, if I take her hand away and say “mama’s sleeping” she will fuss, sometimes getting upset like a child who wants to nurse to sleep and is being denied milkies.

Sometimes this drives me nuts, but mostly it makes me sad. I feel bad that I can’t give her milkies. I feel annoyed that I am annoyed when she “latches” and “nurses.” It’s been difficult to have been so joyful at 17 months that we were in such a solid groove only to have it taken away so soon afterwards.

Despite my mixed feelings, I give my daughter my nose as an offering, as a replacement for my nipples and her milkies. It is not my favorite, but it is the least I can do to ease this cruel twist in our breastfeeding relationship.

5 responses to this post.

  1. […] about the major shift in my breastfeeding status that came at 18 months here and gave an update here. Things just didn’t go as I thought they would. In fact, they went downhill right when we […]

    Reply

  2. […] not be tandem nursing my children. After realizing the probable source of my daughter’s nose obsession, forced weaning caused by my pregnant body’s refusal to make milk, I wondered “Am I […]

    Reply

  3. […] there I was wondering, “Am I (still) a breastfeeding mama?” My daughter even gained a nose obsession from when she weaned during […]

    Reply

  4. […] shared how my body weaned us both due to lack of supply which may have caused my daughter to have a nursing-related nose obsession. I found a respectful way to handle tandem nursing. Alas, our nursing relationship continues to be […]

    Reply

  5. […] child or myself, well enough for the actual addition of a sibling. I have already shared about the nose obsession that turned into a nose-touching issue with baby boy. Even though that has died down a bit, I […]

    Reply

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