Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weaning Woes

A friend of mine told me she was spending something like $300-$400 a month on her baby's special formula, and that was all it took for me to decide I wanted to breastfeed. With that kind of money my kid could be styling in some cute clothes and we could be having some good fun.

I decided I'd pump and breastfeed as long as I could. Every month I kept going I'd treat myself with something special.

It was my excuse for taking mommy and me yoga classes, investing in photography equipment, frequent Etsy splurges, and other random indulges. I'm not going to apologize for the savings being my main motivation for breastfeeding.

It was the main reason I didn't stop at three months, or six months, or nine months. Sure, there were other great benefits, but knowing that I didn't have to buy a can or formula during every shopping trip kept me motivated and ambitious about keeping up my pumping at work.

"I did it!" I thought on her birthday. I packed away my pump and bought our first jug of whole milk for my daughter. She drank that while I was at work. Finally, this week, it dawned on me she could drink it when we're together too. It's not like the expressed liquid gold I was too stingy to use when I was home.

Whole milk doesn't keep her from wanting to nurse though. When she's done with her sippy she'll still ask for milk from me, and at 16 months I'm asking myself if I've had enough.

On my days off, or the days where my daughter doesn't go to school, she nurses several times in the morning, then basically throughout the day, any time I sit down. Until recently I was carrying on with the "don't refuse, don't offer" technique where I only nursed her when she asked, but I realized that she would nurse because she was bored.

On days that I work and she goes to school she nurses in the morning, then again in the afternoon, when I pick her up from school, usually around dinner time, then before bed.

Lately I've been trying to distract her when she asks for the fifteenth time at home, and when we're out and about. Personally, I don't like nursing her in public anymore. She's bigger, more distracted and it just makes things challenging for me.

Today when I picked her up from school she wiggled out of my arms and ran to the rocking chair I normally nurse her in when I pick her up. She's recently moved up to the "bigger kids" class and for about a week she forgot about that routine. Today I was in a hurry and didn't have time to sit down and feed her, so I told her it was time to go and that she could have milk later. Part of my heart broke watching her shake the chair we used to sit in every afternoon. She didn't push the subject like she normally does at home and church. Normally she'll cry and cry and whine until I give in or find something extra special to distract her, but she seemed satisfied with me just telling her it was time to go to the store.

We went straight to shopping, then a friends house then home to bed, and she didn't ask again. I believe today she only nursed when she first woke up (and for the two hours we snuggled together before starting our day--Thanks to Daylight Saving time she's still waking up too early.).

Could this finally be the beginning of the end? I hate to say it but I hope so. I'm ready. I'm ready to have my body back as my own. I'm ready to get her cuddles because she likes to snuggle and not because she wants to be pacified until I'm raw.

I'm ready to end the awkward moments where she sticks her hand down my dress in public. Heck... I'm ready to be able to buy and wear dresses without worrying if it offers easy access for breastfeeding.

I'm ready to start over as me, before beginning on this journey all over again.

My husband thinks it's time. He has for a while. He thinks she's too big to still be nursing. But he doesn't push the matter, at least not when we're at home. 

Then part of me worries I'll miss this when it's over. If I'll wonder why I was so eager to end this. There are sweet moments where she stares at me from below and I look into the same giant brown eyes that I first laid eyes on 16 months ago. I feel as though this is the only part of us that feels the same. Me holding her in a cradle while she nurses to sleep. It's a little sad to think we'll be growing up, moving on to the next stage.

Oh we've had our rough patches along the way--The worst being a biting frenzy around 11 months that left me mentally scarred for life. But we made it through.

What started as a way to save and excuse to splurged turned into an unexpected blessing. The savings ended four months ago, but I've continued to nurse her because it's what she's wanted, and our routine wasn't hurting anyone. But now I'm ready to close this chapter and open the next. But how?

If you've been through this I'd love to hear how you did it. I think we're getting there gradually, which may be better than cold turkey but every time we get a day off together she has a nursing relapse and is latched around the clock. Thanks in advance for your words of wisdom.

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