Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Know it's Time

I love breastfeeding.  Some people think I'm crazy, but I love it.  When I first became a mom, I was determined to make it work.  It was hard at first, and I hated it that first month.  I remember those first few weeks thinking "Can I really do this for a year?"  I started thinking that maybe it would be okay if I just lasted 6 months.  Even that seemed impossible.  But by about 6 weeks Ainsley and I had settled in and I started to enjoy it.

When her first birthday rolled around we were no where near ready to stop.  Quickly her feedings decreased and by the time she was about 14 months she was only nursing before bed.  I went out for my birthday with some friends.  When I pumped, I got less than 1/2 an ounce total.  That was the end.  I nursed her and knew it would be the last time.  I may have cried.

Freddie was easy.  He latched on the moment I held him and he never looked back.  He loved nursing and his love only grew stronger as he grew older.  At 12 months, he was still nursing 5-6 times a day.  I've never been one to push a strict feeding schedule.  I've always nursed on demand.  However, Freddie's demands were frequent and violent.  We went through about a month where if I didn't whip it out the moment he crawled in my lap he'd kick, scream and hit me.  We got past that...first by completely stopping any night feedings.  Then I stopped nursing him at all during the day...only at nap and bed times.  Then I took away the nap nursings.

All that took quite a bit of time.  Finally, about 2 months ago we were down to just nursing before bed time.  I decided I would go until 18 months and then we were done.

Then, of course, things come up.  Two weekends out of town immediately following his 18 month mark, did not bode well for weaning.  I knew that would be the case, so I decided I'd wait until this coming weekend to stop.  He'd be just shy of 19 months.  I wanted to do it on a weekend so if we had a screaming toddler all night long, I could sleep it off the next morning.

Tonight, I have a work function to attend.  I won't be home until way past bed time.  So Clif will be pulling night duty.  There won't be any nursing and he hasn't taken a bottle since he was 10 months old.  I think it would be cruel and counter productive to nurse him tomorrow night and then stop Friday.

Last night, I rocked and nursed my 27.5 lb, almost 19 month old baby for the last time.  His feet now dangle well past my knees.  His arm now reaches around my back.  His legs don't curl into my stomach any more.  His legs run and jump and kick and climb.  His hands don't ball tight in fists any more.  His hands explore and pull and throw and clap and blow kisses.

I drew it out longer than normal.  I know it was for me more than him.  Starting today, my body is all mine again.  For the first time in 5 years I'm not growing or nourishing or sustaining a little person - or trying to do so.  And it will be awhile before I do it again.

I nursed him all the way to sleep, which I never do anymore.  I kissed him more and hugged him longer before placing him in his crib.  Sometimes it's so hard to let go.  So difficult to let them grow.  I know it's time to release this last thing keeping him small and embrace the little boy he's becoming.

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