Mine! All Mine! (Again)

And now, another post about breasts.

For the last two weeks, I've been weaning Isabella. After consulting several nursing books, I've decided the best way to do it for us is to eliminate one nursing session per week. Since she was about 9.5 months, I have nursed her four times a day. As of this week, we're down to two: first thing in the morning and right before bed. I selected this method after eliminating the cold-turkey method (too cruel), the baby-led weaning method (too drawn-out), and the mustard-on-the-nipples method (no, I'm not joking, and also, too freakin' weird).

I'm lucky in that Isabella has shown much less of an interest in nursing for the last three months. When she does nurse, it's not for too long. She has far more important things on her activity calendar than to curl up in bed with her mom several times a day. The reason I've chosen to wean her now is because next week, she's turning one (Oh. My. God. How? How is this possible?) and her pediatrician cleared her for cow's milk at that point. Also, I've read some very difficult stories about weaning older babies, and given my fragile emotional state lately, I don't think I could stand it if down the line she decided she didn't want to give it up, even though I was ready to. So now is the time to wean her.

And in a lot of ways, I'm ready.

My return to the land of the caffeinated will happen immediately following her last nursing session. And I do not care if that happens at 8pm on a school night. Have you seen that mattress commercial where the sales guy is gulping coffee grounds to stay awake? That's going to be me. I was a huge caffeine consumer pre-pregnancy, and I've been off the full-strength juice for the past 19 months. Bring it on, baby. Bring. It. On.

I'm also looking forward to losing one of the two sports bras I've had to wear while running for the past year. Soon after Isabella's birth, I came to the conclusion that a single sports bra wasn't cutting it. I am hoping (please!) that the girls shrink. I've read that following nursing, they will either be slightly bigger or slightly smaller than they used to be. Huh?

And finally, I'm looking forward to having my body belong only to me again. For the past year, I've been tied to the wee one with a very short leash. And although in the last few months, that leash has gotten longer, it will be nice to be able to be out past her bedtime and not have to worry about leakage or waking up in the morning as Pam Anderson if I chose not to pump before going to bed.

But as much as I'm looking forward to reclaiming my body again, I will miss nursing Isabella. Being her sole source of nutrition for the first six months of her life was both an enormous responsibility and later, a big accomplishment. She was thriving and growing and reaching her milestones for the first six months because my body was providing her with the nutrition to do so, which is a pretty incredible thing. At six months, her nursing sessions lessened because she was eating solids, but I was still helping her to grow and remain healthy. But as she creeps closer to a year old, she's needing me less.

Nursing my baby has provided an intimate bond that not one of her many familial admirers has with her. Right off the bat, she took to it easily. I, however, did not take as easily to the round- the-clock drive thru window routine. It was exhausting. It was physically demanding. And there were times in the middle of the night when I literally fell asleep for several minutes while sitting up in bed feeding her, Nick at Nite reruns unable to keep me awake.

But then she started sleeping through the night, and we got into a routine. She came to be so alert that the only place I could feed her was in my darkened bedroom. I couldn't feed her in my chair in the living room anymore, because she wouldn't nurse. She'd just turn her head to stare at everything in eye range. So we retreated upstairs. I would hold her close, and she would nurse, playing with my hands, and often falling asleep before her naps and before bed. And then I would carry my sleeping baby into her crib in her room, and tiptoe out without waking her. I can probably count the number of bottles of breastmilk she's drank in the past year on two hands. She never seemed to want to drink from them, so we all but gave up on anyone else feeding her a long time ago.

Sometime in the next three weeks or so, she won't be nursing at all anymore. I'll pack away the Boppy pillow and my nursing bras. I'll unearth the shirts I couldn't wear while breastfeeding that are currently buried in the back of my closet. And a little part of my heart will break. My baby isn't so much that tiny baby anymore. I've helped make her a strong and healthy almost-one-year-old.

And now it's time to let a little part of her go.

10 Responses to “Mine! All Mine! (Again)”

  1. # Blogger My Wombinations

    Now I am crying. That was such a beautiful post. I know exactly what you mean. Nursing is such a mixed bag, but the thought of ending it does make me sad. You have done such a good thing for your daughter. Good luck with the emotional part of it.  

  2. # Blogger M

    Ok. that made me sad! I'm having a hard time with my little one growing up too. And while I don't breastfeed, feeding her a bottle still gives me that 20 minutes of closeness that she depends on me for. And the thought of it going away makes me very very sad  

  3. # Blogger Beagle

    I think a lot about motherhood is bittersweet.

    Beautiful post.  

  4. # Blogger kenju

    I hated giving it up too, even though I only lasted for 6 weeks with all three of them.

    Kristi, since you have been off caffeine for so long, consider drinking decaf coffee.It is so much better for you! I love Starbucks Decaf Caffe Verona when I make it at home. Try it!  

  5. # Blogger Shannon

    I had no problems stopping the pumping... but I wasn't actually BF... so to me it was nice not to feel like a milking machine... hehehe... but I can't believe she is going to be one soon...  

  6. # Blogger Melissa R. Garrett

    Weaning? Sleeping through the night? I'd like a refund on my 26-month-old, please! She co-sleeps with us, which means I have become one giant pacifier (she'll be getting her OWN bed soon!!). She's rejected every bottle and pacifier on the market. And she's never, ever slept through the night - wahhhh!!! I will be SO happy to have my body back. PS - I drink 2 cups of coffee and a Diet Coke each day. ;-) (but I also drink a lot of water, too)

    PS - I tried Orajel on the nipples - I was desperate. My daughter made a little grimace, and then continued on with nursing. And she loves mustard, so I can't try that - LOL!  

  7. # Anonymous Sher

    This is huge! My jaw dropped because this is always a very complex thing (in our family). Your post was magnificent in capturing the mixture of feelings when this happens.

    One year old????? AMAZING!  

  8. # Blogger Laura McIntyre

    Such a beautiful post, i hope
    the weaning is going well. I
    have yet to go through it but
    can only imagine how tough it is  

  9. # Blogger Damselfly

    Once again, we are mirroring/following you and Isabella in this. I have been thinking about weaning as Fly gets closer to a year. (Mustard! Gah!) And like you, I'm wondering how fast I can get to an espresso machine and an ice cream shop for a chocolate-peanut-butter sundae. Also like you, we've moved into his bedroom for nursing (because otherwise he gets too distracted) so that means I don't get to watch the news anymore! I know this year of nursing you've had will be one of the best things you've given her for her lifetime.  

  10. # Blogger sunShine

    I could have written this post last year when I weaned the babe, in fact I probably wrote one much like it. Not breastfeeding anymore was so very sad for me, but I am still the babe's favorite, so that is all that counts! Hang in there, it will be emotional at times, at least it was for me.  

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