Hello = )
I am seeking guidance from bright, sensitive and not overly-opinionated mothers regarding an issue I am facing. It's that age old "human pacifier" dilemma and yes, please note I already know this term bothers some of the mamas on here. But when you're on our side of the coin, this description perfectly befits. I am a breastfeeding peer counselor; I wouldn't encourage this term with other mamas.
My baby girl (sorry, I don't do the whole "DD" thing, being an English teacher an all!) is not exactly a baby anymore. She's just under 2 years old (and has her teeth) and this vampire thingie she does has been going on since birth.
My older girl, now 5, was my champion nurser and still nurses occasionally but our child-led weaning has been a natural, healthy process that you might say is still wrapping up.
My 22 month old came out of the womb with the same determination to qualify as an Olympic medalist nurser...until I started to pick up on something not quite holistic about our nursing relationship. She nursed all the time, right through teething and other growing pains. It's never really diminished. She is super sensitive and has an inability to self-soothe. Pacifiers and pumping: waste of money and complete bombs. And yes, this mama put her heart into it.
If she feels insecure for any reason, if she and her sister tug-o-war over a toy or a snack, if I reprimand her for pulling the dog's tail....if I put her down and she still wanted to be carried, if I walk away for a moment and it makes her anxious....her reactions are excessive. She will fall to her knees in despair and cry bitter tears and then immediately come to claim her breast. Since birth, she has seldom shown an ability to find her own calming mechanisms. She has never cried herself to sleep unless you count crying for so long that 30 seconds of nursing to cap it off is what does the trick...but then you have to endure the crying for as long as you possibly can...and she will outlast your tolerance. She can tough it out for hours.
A lot of people think it's "medical." If you have ever heard of a condition that seems like something could be wrong but vanishes the second I pick her up (being held and carried works too, but the second I sit down and get into a more relaxed position she's all over me), then please attach said medical term here. But I think she's just desperately sensitive, needy, insecure and unsure about this world. She also likes sensation-pleasing things, like warm water, food, massages etc. I believe she behaves with something akin to an addictive personality (even though we're a sober family with alcoholism being as far away as one great-grandfather). She also seems sort of anti-social. She has very few bonds outside of her parents, and even those are tentative and mood-dependent. She is very sweet and giggly but largely cranky, irritable and upset. She has seen endless chiropractic treatments and some reiki.
I made a committment a few months ago that I was going to "stop struggling" with this and just nurse her whenever she needs it, as long as she needs it. And I would love her and stroke her hair and whisper to her. But that only seems to feed (pun) into it more. Even now as I write this, she was waiting for me to sit up so she could immediately ditch her play and come looking for my chest. She will do this all day long. She will watch and wait and the moment I sit down, the baby predator hones in on its prey! Sorry gals but ya gotta have a little humor when this is your reality 12+ hours a day!
She will also thoroughly nurse both breasts, crying in frustration when she has drained them both completely (yes, I have a good supply, yes she will nurse for that long!)
She's always been a great sleeper, falling alseep with me at the breat and co-sleeping at night. Don't need this department to change.
But our relationship has changed, as she's older and eats meals (and boy does she love food!) and ever though we have many sweet and comforting nursing moments, the number of times she comes to me to be pushy and demand and cry insistently about it far outnumber. Mother-baby dance? More like mother jerked onto the dance floor against her will!
Sometimes she will cry and if I push her away enough, she'll go play with her sister or something, but those are notable rare occasions that happen a couple times per week. Even my husband laughs when I finally hit my threshold and yell out "That's enough! Go do something else" and you hear her delatching like a plunger. He says "She looks like a little leech when she does that!" Sometimes she just detaches and wanders away, which I admit is kind of funny. But sometimes I push her away to declare my own space, and she throws herself onto the ground in bitter agony. Ever seen that scene in Braveheart where William Wallace collapses to his knees in utter defeat and betrayal? Yeah, she's get an Oscar, too.
I just love her so much. She's my sweet little lovee. She's funny and intelligent and gives the sweetest baby kisses guaranteed to melt your heart. But this world just seems hard for her. Physically she's doing fine but there's this inner anxiety that superimposes everything. Mama's breast is the hieght of comfort, but sometimes I intuit that it's also her drug, her "fix." It doesn't always feels healthy and it doesn't feel like an evolving, natural dance relationship.
This mama just wants to help her baby out. Any thoughts, o wise women?