After my son’s first illness in a while, I’m so glad I’m still nursing and that we can still create a family bed.
Last night my son said he had a “stomachbake,” and he clearly had some gas, but he fell asleep fairly easily around 7:30. Then, when he woke at 9:00 p.m. crying, I was worried he’d caught the tummy virus my friend’s child had. He felt hot, and the temp read 100.2. This is the first fever he’s run in a very long time. I’ve never medicated for anything, including for a fever, believing that it really is the body’s way of healing itself (see NY Times article). I’ve given my son homeopathics and flower essences and will entertain herbs, but he’s never had any over-the-counter medicine.
This was also the first time he’s really been sick since he became verbal. It was a real throwback to deal with a child who was upset but unable to tell us what was wrong. If he smooshes his finger or scrapes his knee, he usually says either, “Aw, I just hurt myself,” or “I’m okay, Mom.” This time, it was just unhappy tears.
Thinking this was a tummy bug, I suggested, “Let’s give you some drops.” Since this is familiar to him, he sat and opened his mouth. I gave him Perelandra Microbial Balancing Program drops for the Digestive system and also for Immune and Lymphatic. Then I remembered he sounded a bit stuffy when I put him down for bed, so I threw Respiratory in there for good measure. I added celery and tomato and F-1 and F-2, which a practitioner had previously told me to use in case of a tummy bug or ingested mold or other icky stuff.
I tried to keep both a sympathetic tone so he knew I knew he understood he was not happy but also a lighthearted and reassuring approach, counting out one set of drops in English, one in French, another in Spanish. Although he’s been sleeping through the night for over six months, and we generally don’t nurse until after 5:00 a.m. at the earliest, I nursed him back to sleep.
Around midnight, he woke again and I had to use the bathroom. I can’t remember if we nursed again before I got up or not, but when I left he followed me, and then he saw my husband and said he wanted Daddy. So LJ went to sleep in the boy’s room for a while, and I went back to the much comfier bed down the hall.
It’s been a few weeks since we moved E’s double futon into his own room. The bed takes up half the floor, but we figured one thing at a time. I think we all sleep better without our son in his own room now that he’s two and a half, and it has made afternoon quiet (read: nap-resistance time!) calmer. However, I’m very glad that we can still share sleep when it’s clearly the thing our son needs. (Or any of us needs. One day I’d had to say goodnight to him early before going to a meeting, I woke at 4:30 and crawled into bed with him just to be close. I still love the snuggling, but I also know he’s ready for his own space.)
I have had my frustrations with nursing a grabby toddler, but I haven’t yet gotten the desire to wean the way I got the desire to move bedrooms. According to Mothering Magazine’s article “Extend Breastfeeding’s Benefits”by Kyla Steinkraus (September/October 2007 – Issue 144), breastfed toddlers do seem to be healthier physically, and emotionally. I figure that with a child with food sensitivities, the longer he can get nutrition from me, the better. And in a child with an intense and gregarious personality, the longer he can have quiet closeness with his mama, the better. Since he hadn’t been sick in so long, I took for granted the health benefits.
Now that our nursings have gotten down to just morning, before nap and night (and sometimes skipping the pre-nap if we’re out & about), I feel freer but after this illness, I also feel like my son is more vulnerable to illness with less breastmilk intake. I’m not ready to put him out into the world without that layer of protection.
He woke this morning temping in a 98.1 and was in fine spirits all day. So far he’s been sleeping soundly since a few minutes after we gave him his drops again four hours ago. If he needs to nurse tonight, I’ll turn the clock back a few months to make sure he gets well.