Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Weaning.

Damn it.

I was really, really hoping I'd make it to a full year. I even entertained the idea of nursing a little beyond that, if Will wanted. We had a rough start -- he wouldn't latch, and when he did it HURT. But we got that ironed out, and so I have been spending quite a bit of time over the last year with my baby snuggled up against me, pulling at my breast and reaching his hand up to brush at my hair.

But sometime in the last few weeks he started fussing when I'd feed him, often taking only a few pulls and arching away angrily. His crumpled, angry face would break my heart, especially once he started to let loose these furious yells.

It's partially my fault, and probably part nature's too. Paul and I had a night without the kids a few weeks ago, and I didn't pump while he was gone. I'd nursed the evening before, when we dropped the kids off at my parents' house, and then for whatever reason didn't pump the next day until I saw him sometime after noon. The problems with supply started then, but they'd seemed to resolve themselves -- now, though, it's clear the girls are no longer up to the job.

What I'd really wanted this time, though, is to know, and mark, the last time I nursed him, nursed my last baby for the last time. I had to wean Maggie very abruptly, and I wanted to be able to say goodbye to it a little more consciously this time.

I had started to attempt to focus on the experience a little more in the last month, knowing that sooner rather than later, our nursing time would end. But it cropped up suddenly -- some days he'd nurse, some days he wouldn't, until finally this week it's been none. Yesterday was the first time the only breastmilk I dispensed was expressed into a pump, not an eager little pink mouth.

I should be pumping now. I probably won't, will let nature take its course and end things only a few weeks earlier than I had planned. Like last time, I know my supply has been dropping because it doesn't hurt to have not nursed, and yesterday, when I pumped, I got a measly little three ounces.

I hate that this part of motherhood is over, which is odd because I am really not a fan of nursing, but both times stopping it has made me really sad and this time moreso, since there's not even the thought of another little baby coming down the pike. I feel like it was so key to my relationship with Will. Anybody else could love him, play with him and cuddle him like I do, but nobody else could nurse him.

And damn, did that baby love to nurse. When he was a newborn, he'd make this funny little "unnnhh unnhhh unnnhhh" sound when I nursed him, like this was just the happiest he could ever be. More recently, he'd wrap up a feeding, pop off, and lean back, grinning at me. He's always been a quick nurser, so much so I was afraid he wasn't getting enough. But his fat little thighs and chubby cheeks and cankles and wrist rolls quickly put that to rest, and filled me with pride that I'd grown this chubby little guy. He picked up the drill quickly, too -- when he was a newborn he'd do the "pecking" thing where he'd start to sort of headbutt my shoulder. Maggie did the same thing, but Will added the twist of flinging himself bodily sideways and attempting to latch on to whatever was available.

When he was a little older, he'd get excited when he'd see we were headed for the den, where I usually nursed him. And he would just stare at my boobs and drool, an unattractively frat boy habit in an older male but awfully funny in a baby. I would tell him, "Will, if your mother teaches you nothing else: EYES UP HERE."

As a second kid, he's gotten very little one on one time, so it's been so nice for both of us to have that break in the day. I feel like our relationship is changing now, growing a little more distant, as it must. It goes from him beiung snuggled inside my body to being outside but nourished by it to trying his own nourishment to his own life, slowly of course, but all too fast.

I'm planning a spicy-Indian-food and martini fest for this weekend to celebrate the end of nursing, but I am still sad. As many firsts as there will be for Will, because I am not planning another baby, there will also be lots of lasts. My last birth, my last newborn, my last bleary eyed new mother haze. And sometime in the early morning hours of Sunday, my last nursing session.

7 comments:

Lisa said...

Aww, Amy, this is the sweetest, funniest, most heartfelt and beautiful post! I literally laughed to picture Will hurling himself over sideways to reach your breast...and the "EYES UP HERE" comment...classic! I remember all this and more from nursing my own sons, and though we're not entirely certain the ride is over, the thought that it may be makes me a little sad too.

I feel for you as this stage of your relationship ends and a new and equally beautiful one begins. Enjoy that spicy food and martini, and celebrate the fact that you were able to nurse your son almost to his first birthday. What a beautiful thing!

Em said...

What a great post. My little Charlie is 4 months on Sunday, and I have started introducing formula. I am back at work (dammit) and my supply hates the pump. I continue to do it, even 5x today, while I worked from home (after each feed) because I really don't want it to end. In fact, you have inspired a new post idea for me. And maybe you have inspired a bit of "chutzpah" for me to keep on, keepin' on. Thanks for that, Amy :o)
Way to go on getting this far. It's a bit ironic I clicked on this post today as it's been one of those days where I have pondered this subject immensely.

caramama said...

How great that you got to nurse for so long! I also felt so sad when we weaned, but the Pumpkin wasn't my last. We'll see how I do with the one on the way. I'm sure I'll be extra sad for all the reasons you mentioned.

And that post was very funny! You have such a great way with words.

Oz said...

Like Lisa, I loved "Eyes up here!" My boy was rather grabby, too - funny in private, but not always as funny in public when I was trying to keep myself covered.

apt said...

What a sweet eulogy to quiet moments.
When Willa weaned, I wanted and got the "this is the last time" moment. And when it was over I kind of shrugged and took a shower, thinking about how it would leave us time for other activities.
But looking into the future with Henry (perhaps my last?), I get premptively sad.
Well done, lady. It was a great run!

Erin said...

So I read this post on Sunday afternoon, just before I put June to bed, and as I was nursing her I thought about you and Will, and I really paid attention to June. I looked at her little lips, and held her fingers and thought about how sad I would be when she stopped nursing, but that it will be a long time before she weans. And then the next day she got sick, and started to get two new teeth, and refused the boob. Again and again. Its been days and she hasn't nursed once. We're done. And I couldn't be more grateful for your post.

Thank you.

Shoopee said...

I totally get it. Breastfeeding was hard and painful for me in the beginning with my son, but I was really sad when he self-weaned at around 11 months. I still miss it sometimes, and now he's 16 months!