Week One - March 10, 2017-March 16, 2017
While we have been casually suckling on a loose schedule for the past few weeks, we felt that last week was the time to officially begin our journey to full lactation.
And a blissful week it has been.
There's something to casual suckling/breastplay, but to dedicate real time out of your schedule every day to nursing, that's something special! D and I have experienced increased closeness and we find ourselves engaged in lots of pillowtalk every night before nursing and then drifting off to sleep. The words we exchange are loving, honest, and comforting.
When initiating an ANR, there is an extremely wonderful "honeymoon" period. I'll never forget the days of when we first delved into this world, and how excitingly new everything was. There was always incredible anticipation to see each other, to learn something new, to wait for new indicators of progressing lactation. We were so mad in love and the passion was fresh. Multiple times daily we would make love and retire in the evening exhausted from the emotions of the day. They were truly wonderful times. This time around, there is definitely some passion and most certainly the intense feelings of love and connection; however, the honeymoon isn't as exciting (still exciting, though!) as it was initially. That's how life goes. But we are committed and excited to be taking this step--and this time, with increased confidence. And we are relaxed and know that, wherever this takes us, we'll be happy in the journey.
I have already experienced the characteristic soreness in the armpits that comes with beginning stimulation for lactation. This came about a few days after starting our casual routine, so I haven't technically experienced it since beginning for real this week. I have been through indicator 1 ("Her breasts feel softer after a nursing session) for lactation. D is definitely getting my "fluid" so it's safe to say I'm experiencing indicator 2 ("He 'feels' her fluid on his tongue while nursing"). And it's only the first week! I have hope things will progress quickly. I'm not sure how close I am to indicator 3 ("Her bra cup increases one size") because... I don't wear bras. I have never been gifted in the breast size department, so I simply choose not to wear one anymore. That, and three years ago when we first started our ANR adventures, D convinced me he liked how my breasts looked when I didn't wear a bra. Even after nursing two children, they're really still decently perky. Instead of a bra, I opt for these nipple covers which I really love! I only really wear them when I'm going out or seeing family. Wearing them too long is not advisable. The girls need to breathe!
Anyway--I'm expecting an indicator 4 ("She becomes uncomfortable if a nursing session is skipped") in the next month. In our history, that's about how long it has taken. And at indicator 4, our dedication is really tested because I will be unable to relieve the discomfort myself and will require him to help me. Full lactation ("She can pump, hand express, or spray milk") doesn't come for quite some time! So I'll have to rely on my dear husband. That's another beauty of ANR: it becomes a symbol of your dedication to each other.
I still get somewhat giddy seeing him walk through our bedroom door as I wait for him on the bed. He'll shut the door, lock it, and join me in bed. His hands pull up my shirt, pull down my undershirt, admire my breast before holding it and latching on. I love it. And I feel the same after coming home from work and seeing him. We put the children to bed and retire to the bedroom for time together. This time is so precious.
This week was very nice. We determined our schedule, which includes three nursing sessions (10 minutes per breast) a day: 6:30 AM (upon waking), 1:00 PM (when he comes home for lunch) and 10:30 PM (before bed). His schedule follows a typical 8-5 job, but we are fortunate enough to live close enough to his place of employment that he can come home for lunch every day. My employment involves on-call work in healthcare, and mostly involves evenings and weekends for a few hours that work within our schedule. We would ideally like to have a nursing session at 5:30 or 6:00 PM (when he gets home from work) but it likely won't work out for some time. That's one thing about ANR: it changes with your life (and your life changes with it!).
I must say also that I have been prepared with a pump. During our second attempt at ANR my husband purchased a pump for me. Truly, it was quite a gift and so appreciated! I use the Medela Freestyle. I'll write later on why I like this pump and the reasons we choose to use a pump in our ANR.
This week, I have had to pump a couple times. Once because I agreed to babysit my niece and nephew at 12:30 and we were unable to finish our nursing session (I pumped later as they slept) and another because D went to a convention for work for the whole day. The pump isn't even remotely the same as D's mouth. I cannot express milk yet and so it simply stimulates my nipples. While I pump, I miss D even more! And I am definitely not used to the pump yet--I have to pump at a very low level and for only 10 minutes. With time, I'll become accustomed to it, I'm sure.
I'm so excited for this journey. It feels so right. And I know this time, we'll get so far. The cards haven't been in our favor before, and we finally have a good hand.
Thank you again for joining us on this journey! I hope to help you somehow!