The end of an era has dawned; my daughter is no longer nursing. When she was born and I started breastfeeding I said that I was going to do it for one year and then she was cut off (yes, “cut off” were my exact words). After my 10 months of vomit filled pregnancy, I wanted my body back to myself and dreamed about the day that I could eat what I wanted and drink what I wanted… Well, one year came and went, my priorities changed and we were still a nursing team. I learned all about the World Health Organization’s 2 year recommendation and that the world average of nursing cessation was 4.2 years old… so I decided at 2 years we would start the weaning process. I felt good about our choice to continue, and I say our choice because it was one that we both made. Everly had already decreased feedings at her own pace since she turned one year, it wasn’t something that I pushed or discouraged. On her own she went down to 2 feedings/day (nap and bedtime) and I was happy to continue with this routine. It didn’t bother me that some people thought it was weird that I was still nursing her. I thought it was weird that they thought it was weird… ah our lovely Western Culture and its sexualization of the breasts.
And then I started experiencing severe digestive health issues. Suddenly I had doctors encouraging me to take different medications that were not healthy to take while nursing. I had a tough choice- her or me; for the past 2 months, I have chosen her. After some soul searching and talking to other experienced moms, I realized it wasn’t such a black and white situation; there was pretty shade of gray area. By taking these pills that may help to stabilize my digestive health I am better able to be there for her all the time. I won’t have to keep a stash of toys in the bathroom just in case we have to hang out in there for extended periods of time and we won’t have to remain at home when we would rather be at the park or the pool or playgroup.
I took the opportunity to stop nursing while I was away in Las Vegas at my cousin’s wedding last week. I thought it would be the perfect time. I would be away from her so she wouldn’t expect it anyway, and this time away I was told would dry up my supply. Okay, plan in place. My last nursing session with her was the Saturday night before I left. I was sitting with her in the rocking chair and feeding her as she drifted off to sleep. I could not help but cry, and I can’t help but get misty eyed about it now as I write. I just thought in my head, remember this moment. Everly warm and snuggly in my arms, the smell of her freshly bathed skin, still wet curls at the nape of her neck, the gentle suckling of her cheeks and pursed lips, her pink sleep sack and her baby in her arms. I put her down in her crib, by now she was in a deep sleep and I told her I loved her and that I would see her in a few days. I probably checked on her 4 times that night, just to watch her sleep before I left.
Las Vegas was great. No pain from milk supply, the sun was out and the deck chairs were welcoming! News from home told me that Everly was taking my absence like a champ; I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad about that one, lol! I was still feeling sad about stopping, and I was missing her, but all in all I knew that I was doing the right thing. Each day I check to see if the milk was drying up as I was told it would. I pictured this desert wasteland that my boobs would become inside, maybe it would nastify them even more? But each day there was still milk- wth? I shrugged it off as weird and went about my sun bathing and shopping.
I got home from Las Vegas late at night. I had to sneak a peek at my sleeping girl. I breathed in the smell of her room, the smell of my daughter everywhere; ahhhh, home. She looked so peaceful and I have to admit that it took all my might to keep myself from scooping her up and holding her! The next day when nap time came, I rocked her and put her down, no issues at all… same for bedtime. The days since have been the same, she has only asked once or twice and has been easily distracted by Goodnight Moon both times. It was hard to say no and I felt guilty, but I did it. We did it. And I think now it’s safe to say that she is officially weaned (despite the fact that I still have milk; gross, when will this stuff dry up? Am I that much of a milk machine?).
I didn’t expect it to be this hard. And I didn’t expect to miss nursing this much. I thought that I would beam with freedom from the mountain tops and drink Bellini’s and eat onions like a fiend. I guess it doesn’t help that I now know I am allergic to onions and can’t eat them anyway and I am not supposed to drink either; that bit is a little anticlimactic isn’t it. But nursing was good to me and I would like to thank breastfeeding for the following:
1) Helping my body fit into a size 4. Yes, size 4. The recent removal of sugar and high fat foods among other things has also helped with this, but Nursing can be credited with 40 pounds worth of the 60 pounds that I have lost. Wow, just typing that makes me all the more thankful again. Boobs you are great!
2) Taking multi-tasking to a whole new level. I could nurse, Photoshop, talk on the phone and have a snack all at the same time. I remember setting up a nursing station early on- water, lip balm, phones (home and cell), remote and oh, the baby (ha). By the end I could walk around and nurse at the same time (ta-da!).
3) Making my life easier. I saw what moms who bottle fed had to go through. The formula making, the boiling water, washing and boiling bottles, filling bottles, heating bottles, it seemed like an endless amount of work. Time and time again, all I had to do was lift up or pull down my shirt and whip out a boob, affix to E’s mouth and we were ready to rock and roll. This convenience was especially nice in the middle of the night when I just had to roll to my side and she was beside me.
4) Newfound respect for my body and mother nature. Before I became a mother, I thought about my body in terms of looks and valued it that way. Now I am better able to value it for function. I grew a baby and then fed that baby. I know women do it all the time, but still, it’s pretty freaking amazing.
5) My attachment to my daughter. Now this one is tricky. I am not saying that mothers who don’t breastfeed their babies won’t attach as well, because it’s just not true, they will. All I am saying is that personally, nursing Everly really helped me to attach to her and I am pretty confident that it helped her to attach with me. We had a bit of a traumatic birth. Things didn’t go as planned and I was in shock after she was born. I didn’t get that glowy moment where she was put on my chest and B cut the cord and all that. So it wasn’t until we were snuggled together and we were trying to get her to latch that I realized I had a baby. I know that sounds really stupid but it’s true. It dawned on me, I am responsible for this precious little bug! She looked up at me through those long lashes of hers and she likely thought something of the same.
And that’s all I can think of for now. But I am sure there is more! Breastfeeding I tip my hat to you, it’s been a good run friend.