Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Comfort in Sick Times

This post is for the "This is What Nursing a Toddler Looks Like" Carnival. Welcome carnival readers!

Originally, I was going to spend the weekend taking pictures of all the ways Margaret nurses and post them all here. Margaret can nurse standing up, in a mei tai, upside-down, lying down, and squooshed up in the couch:

All my good intentions were lost when Margaret got a fever that lasted 3 days. It has now broken, and there are a couple of swollen areas in her mouth where molars are waiting and taunting us.

On the first day, Margaret refused any solids. I felt reassured in nursing her; I knew she would stay hydrated on my breastmilk and get the comfort she needed. Then on the afternoon of the second day, she started refusing any form of food. My breasts were engorged and I expressed some milk in a cup for her. Maybe the sippy cup would have enough novelty that she would drink? No. Maybe a straw? No. We even tried to get some into her with an eye dropper and I tried to show her how to suck on a soaked washcloth for fluids. Nope. I kept offering the breast and she kept turning away. Occasionally she would take a couple of sips, but they really were just a couple of sips.

Somehow, she started nursing again. Those couple of sips turned into more sips. Breastmilk is very easily digested. I was confident that her body was taking the little nutrition she was receiving and maximizing its potential. I was still engorged and I spent some time after McKay and Margaret went to bed Sunday night expressing a couple of ounces into a bowl. The result was the most watery foremilk I have ever seen. My body knew Margaret needed water and it was successfully producing what she needed. I was engorged most of the day Monday despite the fact that she was now nursing more regularly.

It's not unusal for children to stop eating solids for various reasons: growth spurts, illnesses, major life changes. I knew a couple last summer who worried about their 1 year old who spent a week only wanting her bottle. This is totally normal. Some children eat lots of solids at a year, some children don't eat regular solids until they are almost 2. By continuing to nurse into the toddler years and beyond, you'll find that breastmilk picks up the slack where the solids are lacking in nutrition.

I don't know how long Margaret will nurse. At the moment the plan is to let her decide when she'll wean. I look forward to nursing her through more illnesses and bumps and scrapes. I have seen my friends calm tantrums with the breast. As Margaret gets older her nursing sessions are more than just food: they bridge the language gap. She has feelings she wants to express, but she is not yet talking and she doesn't yet understand my explanations of her world, "Margaret we can't go outside right now, it's raining." We can nurse, though, and the lack of words is filled with the calming time spent with each other.

When Margaret gets better this week, I'll see if I can't get more of those fun, "I can't believe she can nurse in that position" pictures.


  1. Touching! I use nursing to cure all ailments in Bug's little world, too! It's such a wonderful and precious ability to nurse our children!

  2. Love it! I'm just adding a post at my own blog.

  3. I love your picture. I was so wrapped up in finishing the documentation for my Master's Degree that I forgot to submit mine. I do have a picture up from a few weeks ago if anyone wants to check it out. :)


  4. I am really glad you followed through with this carnival. I always wanted someone to follow me and my nursing toddler around with a camera and take photos of us all day. So many interesting positions, places, chairs, etc...

    It's probably to late to be in the carnival, but if I a get a reprieved from moving and homeschooling tonight, perhaps I'll at least get a post done that's inspired by your carnival!

  5. Permission to Mother-
    As a side note I'll probably review your book next week. I bought it back in December, read half, lost it, and found it last week.

    After I review it, it'll probably be donated to our local LLL library. That or I'll just buy them a copy and keep the one I have. :)

  6. I just got a toddler nursing post up. Again I realize it may be too late for you to add it, but I am glad I can direct interested readers your way.

    I appreciate the upcoming PTM review. Thanks ahead of time for the LLL donation.

  7. My youngest daughter was 18 months when she stopped nursing. She got sick with a bug and refused the breast but took the sippy cup for a few days. When she was feeling better I tried her on the breast but she refused time and time again and that was that, no more nursing.

    I hope little Margaret is feeling better today!

  8. This is so fun! I've put up a post directing people here. I'm still nursing my 23-month-old and love to find new friends who understand it all.

  9. I love seeing other nursin mommas. I am still nursing my 15 month old daughter. I was afriad she would wean herself as she had taken to only nursing 2 times a day...now She is nursing up to 6 times a day... I don't know how long Ill nurse either. If I wasn't in the hospital I would totally take a pic and post it...AWESOME IDEA!

  10. I want to thank you for hosting this carnival. These posts have been such an inspiration to me as I'm currently working through not only the struggles of breastfeeding a newborn but dealing once again with my chronic low milk supply. These posts have been a nice reminder that breastfeeding is about so much more than nutrition. Especially when most of my baby's nutrition isn't produced by me.

  11. I'm a day late, but can I still join the carnival.. :)


  12. I follow you on Twitter, but had never read your blog before. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed ALL of the posts in the carnival, although I didn't have a chance to comment on them because I have a teething, nursing toddler. She needed lots of extra mommy time last night. So I read blogs while she nursed and slept in my arms.

    i also enjoyed reading your posts on UC, and although that isn't a choice i would make for myself, totally admire and respect those choices. What a beautiful, natural way to bring a child into the world. I chose the Western medical way because at the time, I didn't know there were other options.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  13. What a lovely post! (I found you through Hobo Mama)

    My son (10 mo)just went through a 3-day fever, too. My instincts told me not to offer solids, but my husband tried anyway, and he refused the food. I offered the breast every 2 hours in hopes to keep him hydrated, and he barely ate. But I think that is the nature of fevers. I felt confident he was getting what he needed.

    I'm glad we won't be weaning any time soon. It is so reassuring to know he is getting the best "medicine" when he nurses.

  14. I really appreciated this carnival of photos and thoughts, it was really helpful to see.


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