If I had known that I would mourn -- not just be sad for about 12 hours, but actually mourn -- I would have done things differently. It's too late to change things now, but if I had to do it over, I would have dropped one session, then the other. I thought it would confuse him, but I don't give him enough credit. Since he still doesn't talk all that well, I make the mistake of assuming he doesn't understand either (honestly, I think that's becoming his secret weapon, acting like he 'doesn't know any better.'). But he's a smart enough kid to understand that he'd have no more milk at naptime, only at bedtime. Then we could have gone on another few months, and I would have had the still painful, but maybe not as painful, decision to drop that feeding too.
This did not go as I planned. For one thing, I really thought I didn't make milk anymore and that I was telling him the truth when I said it was all gone. It came as a blow to realize that the milk was there, and he was just that efficient at getting it all out that I never felt I was making it. Well, duh, that's breastfeeding 101, you say. When a baby gets older -- a lot older -- they are more efficient at taking milk, your body is more efficient at making just what you need, and you stop feeling fullness or letdown, or any of the other sensations that helped you in the beginning to know things were going well. But I really thought I'd dried up by now, and that the few swallows he did were swallowing his own spit. Besides, he was getting too old, and I did not want to still be nursing him by his third birthday. The thought of having no milk made it an easy decision. The next day's realization that I still produced it brought a tidal wave of regret.
But it wasn't THAT much milk, and four days into this my body is getting the message and shutting down production. Emotionally, I am doing much better too. I'm starting to get over this. I'm ready for the next chapter.
My mind keeps wanting to arrange my memories and thoughts and experiences related to breastfeeding into some kind of story with a beginning, middle and end. I'll attempt to get it all out here.
I remember as a young girl watching my mom with my sister Grace. I've already mentioned here before that she was Mom's most challenging baby. I remember Mom sitting on the couch and saying, "I have no more to give this kid. She's going to suck me dry!" It sounded pretty miserable and not something I would look forward to, especially in the middle of the night. That's why it came as a surprise to me that when I told her that I would bottle feed my babies to make sure that I could get the dad to help too (makes perfect sense, right?), I was met with her clear disapproval. I don't know what I expected her to say -- "good for you"? She told me something to the effect of nursing is actually a really good thing for both mom and baby, and I might change my mind one day and at least want to try it. She had fed me formula before she had known better, and she'd been so glad that she'd nursed my siblings.
|Nom- nomming on baby cheeks with sleep training book facedown on the coffee table -- a good way to sum up life at that moment.|
weaned her without much ado at the age of 14 months. That was a busy summer with moving and vacations. My nursing style has always been (after the initial weeks when their hunger is constant) to do it in a quiet, dim room, preferably in a comfortable chair. In fact I would venture to guess that 98% of breastfeeding for all of them has happened in the same glider rocker. So with all that traveling it became inconvenient, and with all the distractions around, it was easy to keep missing sessions. By the time she weaned she was only nursing first thing in the morning. One morning Tim got up with her and I decided that was the time, and I never offered again. So that was easy.
My nursing relationship with Timmy followed the same pattern. In the beginning he needed me a lot, and I needed him a lot. By this time I was a busy mom of three and no longer wasting my time worrying about when I would be "free" from the ball and chain that was nursing. Being an inseparable pair was par for the course. I understood by now that everything would change so quickly. We kept evolving over time as his sisters and I had done. When he was about 8 months old, I laid him down to sleep and didn't hear from him until the next morning. I had nights off, woo-hoo! Then he needed me still less. I'd watch his dad bundle him into the car with his sisters, and wave goodbye and blow kisses, and not see them again until lunch. These were just tiny incremental changes over many months. What bound us together tightly in the beginning became looser and looser. One morning this past spring when I went in to get him, I decided to skip that first feeding of the day and let him go straight to breakfast. I changed his diaper and as soon as he was on his fat little feet he bounded out the door ready to greet the day. I smiled.
I already feel so much better after seeing all these words on the screen that have been floating around in my head. This blog is therapy sometimes. I think I've been wanting to do a special breastfeeding post for a long time, but could never organize my thoughts enough to do it. So here it is.
I don't know if I'll get another chance at this, but I'm starting to feel a little glimmer of hope that I will one day yet. Weaning Timmy definitely had a hand in that. Right now I'm in no hurry. The glider rocker sits idly, but I am needed more than ever by my family, for so many things. This is all just the beginning. We'll see what God's plan for our future is, but right now my hands are full enough.