Week Two - March 17, 2017-March 23, 2017
Another week has passed. We're still feeling the love and feeling more committed to each other. Maybe it's the physical contact, or the time we spend together, or this little secret we have. I will say all this extra oxytocin makes me feel very lovey and patient and happy. It's a great thing :) See why ANR is amazing?
This week has been incredibly stressful. I feel like my hands are trying to adjust and maintain all the facets of my routine but it's become a lot for me. Even with the oxytocin boost, it's a lot. I hadn't been very interested in nursing due to these preoccupations. I told D I didn't know how I could do it all. He listened intently and offered advice to try and help; unfortunately there's nothing he can really do except offer words of encouragement. But if I can hold out until summer, I think things will be okay. I felt better and the racing thoughts were hushed by D nursing to sleep. We were content for at least that moment. And I knew I really wanted to continue this for a long, long time. He says, "I don't know why we'd ever want to stop." He's right. I don't know why, in the long term, we wouldn't want this.
One prime thing I've noted this week is increased breast tenderness. I'm not sure what exactly is going on but I do know that my breasts are more tender before a nursing session. My nipples are a little more tender as well, and always erect! D says my areolas are darkening and enlarging just the slightest bit and that my breasts seem to be getting bigger, too. While examining them in the mirror before my shower one night, I noticed they were definitely looking fuller, at least. They're becoming round! And the veins have appeared. Dark, blue veins sprawling across my breasts.
In our history, morning sessions have always produced little compared to our afternoon and evening sessions. This week, D remarked that mornings are "catching up" to the other times. My supply is increasing!
On Sunday, while the kids were out exploring the field near our home, I sat with D on the couch and discussed with him thoroughly what having this ANR meant. What an obligation and commitment it would be to have me fully lactating. We couldn't just stop or be casual about things once the milk really comes in. I don't want to leak in front of family or in public in general, and I don't want mastitis again, or blocked ducts! "I am going to need you more than ever," I told him, and he replied that he was very much expecting and anticipating it. He was very sweet about it. His calm, understanding demeanor (with an undertone of excitement!) is one of the things I completely adore about him. I smile thinking of how he smiled during this conversation. This just feels so right for our relationship.
We also spoke about how to manage it on vacations... especially our vacation with his family. There's a possibility I could be fully lactating by then. He seemed intimidated by the task of managing full lactation in secret when privacy will be scant; but we both decided we were up to the task, should it be necessary. That is why we have my little Medela Freestyle. It would be easy for me to sneak off to the car, or out and about somewhere and pump if we cannot manage to find time away from family. And we're on an easy schedule of three times a day. Morning and evening shouldn't be a problem. I think we'll be okay.
I'm curious about how close I am to indicator 4... on Monday, about 1 1/2 hours before D got home for lunch, I felt fairly full and somewhat sore. Moreso than was typical. It felt much better after nursing, thought there was still discomfort due to developing breast tissue. I haven't had that feeling in the evening or in the morning, but I think I'm abnormal. I make the least in the morning, and the afternoon I make the most; evening is in between the two.
I'm very much looking forward to week three. I'm hoping I can report that I am at indicator four. I anticipate a session or two that might need to be a pumping session instead of nursing. If it leaves me feeling still too full and sore, that'll be a pretty reliable sign of indicator four!
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!