Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wean

DISCLAIMER: If you don't like graphic accounts of breastfeeding, you probably won't like this post.

As most of you know, I really love nursing and I would have been perfectly happy to nurse Jedster as long as his little heart desired. Unfortunately, though, with the advent of pregnancy, I discovered that my body disagreed. Making a baby AND breastfeeding a toddler is apparently not in my physical programming. About halfway through my first trimester, our usual pre-nap and pre-bedtime nurse became absolutely excruciating, and the previously simple act of latching on made me scream with pain. As time passed, I thought maybe things would get better, but that wasn't the case.

So, I extremely reluctantly decided that the time had come. Time to wean. Oh, I don't even like the word! So ugly, like my child is a dirty piglet or something (hmm, bad analogy, I realize, as I reflect on his filthy chocolate and snot encrusted visage earlier this morning...) I knew it had to happen, and I kept putting it off. Maybe tomorrow will be the first night-night without "nommies". OK, maybe day after tomorrow. Maybe we'll just start at once a week... etc. etc. etc. Michael got sorely sick of my whining and rolled his eyes whenever I mentioned it. "Just wean, for crying out loud!" I ignored him and just kept gritting my teeth.

Finally, one night, as we read our cozy book and snuggled in bed, I started getting out my nursing pillow. Michael briskly stood up, grabbed Jed, and said "I'll take it from here!" and whisked the kid off into his bedroom. I watched his departing back with consternation. I heard giggles, whispers, and singing from the bedroom. The steady thrum of rocking chair. Sighs. Then the creak of bed springs and a few minutes later Michael slipped out the door. "Well, that was nice," he said. And with a smile he headed into his office.

I wasn't all that thrilled about it, but at the same time my breasts felt even cheerful at the very idea of skipping a nurse. "Oh well," I reminded myself, "there will still be nap time tomorrow. And who knows if THAT will ever work for bedtime again." But it did, the next night. And again the next. Then that Friday Jed fell asleep in the car and I just tossed him into bed from the car seat and that was his nap. The next day, Michael put him down for a nap while I was at meetings. And then he fell asleep on his own with Dad after church. With shock, I realized that evening that it had been THREE DAYS since we had nursed. WHAT! We were WEANING?! How had that happened!

Then night before last, Jed got all cranky (molars) and Dad had a rough time getting him down. "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!" my little boy cried. Michael released him from the bedroom torture chamber and Jed ran into the bedroom and hopped into my arms. "Ah ha!" I thought to myself. "He DOES still need nommies!" With gulping sobs, my sweet little sweaty toddler leaned his head against me. We sat there quietly for a moment as I hummed "I Am A Child of God" and finished up something on my laptop. When I finished, we sat in the darkened room for a few more moments, his head still resting quietly on my chest. I picked him up and walked into the bedroom, still softly humming. We sat in the rocking chair and he nuzzled in close, but no move for the shirt, just seeking comfort in closeness. After a few minutes, his dark-laced eyelids sagged closed. His breathing evened, and in a few moments he fell asleep.

I confess at that moment I was joyful, but a tear may have escaped my eyes. I realized that we really are finished. When I think about it, I still get teary. A thousand sweet memories of his small, warm body pressed against mine; the softness of his rooting face seeking comfort that only Mommy could give; of quiet midnight hours with just the two of us creating a bond of love; of flushed, rosy cheeks falling back from my breast with a perfect sigh of contentment; red lips and white chin coated with momma milk; of those precious moments I could steal from everyone else and just have my baby boy all to myself. With that quiet sigh and sleep, I knew there would be no more such memories between us.

For Jed, weaning was the most natural thing in the world. He didn't even notice the day that his nommies were gone. He's a busy, happy, go-get-em tiger/doggie/racecar who's got the world to conquer. He's a big almost-2-year-old boy now. Mom is the one who has had a hard time letting go. I never imagined that I was the one that we'd have to wean. But my wise husband knew.

It's not bad, it's just a milestone and one that I don't think I was quite ready for yet. Now I know why my mother reminds me over and over that "It goes by so fast!" She's right, he really will be in college any day now and not returning his mother's calls! I'll miss my nom-noms boy. But it comforts me to know that it was a peaceful, perfect transition for all of us. And in just five and a half months I'll have another little darling in my arms. There are plenty of nommies to come.

7 comments:

Melanie said...

Vanessa thank you so much for your story! Sometimes I forget how much I will one day miss those feedings with my little lady when it's 1 in the morning and I'm so tired. I loved your story and it made me take a minute to remember how blessed this time is. Thank you!

Our Family said...

Oh my dear friend-Your not alone. We have been in the same boat. Everything you said I have been though, not once but twice, even about the wise husband part;0 This mom had a hard time letting that sweet time go, too.

Tania said...

I nursed my first 2 girls until they were 2, and thought I'd nurse at least that long with Jacob. Then I got pregnant with Jane when he was 10 months old - no problem I thought - but it killed me, excruciating pain is true.

When he was 16 months old, I "weaned" him. I had taken the pain for 6 months, but couldn't take it any more.

The little known secret is that after Jane was born (he was only 19 months,) I did nurse him again for a few months. Tandem nursing was great. I eventually weaned him at 23 months. I don't know if it made any difference to him - but it really did make me feel a whole lot better - like I hadn't robbed his babyhood & given it to his sister.

Brooke said...

Very sweet, and I TOTALLY understand :) I've only weaned when I was pregnant, so I can't really imagine weaning w/o that factoring in. I was SOOO miserable nursing while pg. I still feel a little sad that Elijah was "only" 19 months, but I suppose that's a whole lot longer than most babies get to nurse. I wonder how old Leah will be when she weans since I'm not planning any more babies... She could easily go until she's 3, but I think that may be my upper limit :)

Mike and Emily said...

Something to look forward to with this little bean in my belly. Beautifully said.

Adamzes said...

What a sweet post and one I could relate to in many ways. My son decided he was done and I too wanted to hang onto that special time, but it comes no matter what. Now with number 2 I am loving it all over again. It is a little hard for big bro though to not have that time while mom is feeding baby. I'm curious how Jed will do during feeding time, a lot of kids struggle with it from what I hear. Good luck with your pregnancy!

Annie Japannie said...

I don't want to detract from the lovely maternal poetry you've created, but I thought I'd share a funny tangential story.

The word "wean" is, yes, most unfit to apply to a human child. It reminds me of a story my sister-in-law-to-be, Lili, told to me the other day. When Lili was about 8 she raised hamsters, and was learning all about breeding them. She got books from the library that gave her all the details, and from those books she learned the handy word "whelp." Armed with her new vocabulary, one day she was sitting in the living room with her mom and her 8 siblings. She turned to her mom and said proudly, "Hey mom! Look at all this flesh you whelped!"