Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dealing with Weaning

Today I am having an exceptionally hard time dealing with the fact that I am no longer breastfeeding my baby girl. She is a year and 2 weeks old, and it's been a little over a month since we weaned. And it was not well received. We had been down to night and morning nursings only, with sippy cups of milk in between and bottles in the car. She loves her sippy cups and has been using them really well since she was about 5 months.

Since the day she was born, I spent the best part of my days with her wrapped in my arms under a blanket, nursing. Together. I would get her up every morning and snuggle onto the couch to nurse and cuddle. We would look into each others eyes for minutes at a time without looking away. And as long as we sat there, there was nothing as important as each other. There was nothing else in the world. The phone didn't matter, the laundry didn't matter. I would talk to her, and in my arms she learned to talk back. It was not just a feeding, it was a connection. A relationship. It was something only I could do for her. And something only she could do for me. It was ours. Together.

Just when it was all going smoothly, she started to get distracted during our nursings. She would nurse for a few minutes and wiggle out of my lap. She started sitting up and wanting to play. She wasn't interested! I kept putting her back in my arms to nurse again, and again. I even took those extra moments during the day to nurse just for comfort if she got upset for some reason. It wasn't working. And I knew the time was coming.

Pretty soon when she would wiggle away from me, I couldn't get her to come back. And eventually she wouldn't even begin to nurse. I had to start giving her a bottle, and she wouldn't even let me hold her to drink it. She wanted to hold the bottle and crawl around the room, sipping as she felt thirsty. I knew she was getting enough milk, but why didn't she want the comfort anymore? Why didn't she want to be in my arms? I was heart-broken.

Today she is bottle-free and whole-milk fed, and she's a toddler. Not a baby. But she is a baby. She will always be my baby and I'm sure I will spend my whole life finding other ways to comfort her, and connect with her. Because that's my job as her mother. And during her first 11 months of life I am so blessed to have been able to comfort her with the most healthy, and most relationship strengthening way possible.

I'm not sure why this is hitting me so hard today, but I guess it is a process for me of dealing with this ending to a very important beginning, the beginning of our relationship. It's the end of the very first thing I taught her, and the first thing we learned together. The first thing I did to show her that I was her mother and that I would be there for her whenever she needs me. No matter what time, and no matter the reason.

I remember thinking a few times, "Gosh this is hard. I'm ready for the day when she doesn't need to nurse anymore". And now I think, what I wouldn't give to go back and nurse my baby just one more time. We did have a lot of trouble learning to breastfeed, but we made it through the tough parts. And we did it together. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Yes, this is the ending of a relationship. And yet it's just the beginning of ours.