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On Nursing and Eventually Weaning
Last night I held my baby close and nursed her before bed. The past few weeks have been lovely. The fall season has brought with it a host of new adventures, milestones and excitement for what is to come. But it has also brought with it a more strong willed baby eager to explore and educate her mama when it comes to her wants and needs. See, despite having done the parenting thing before, Lola quickly taught me that she was her own person and as a result she would dance to the beat of her own drum, a beat quite different than the one her big sister danced to.
With Lola’s arrival came a chance for me to experience babyhood again. And since my life looked a lot different this time around, I attempted to slow down and take it all in. Not only was she a beautiful surprise but she was also the last baby I would carry in my belly and the last baby I would nurse. And somehow nursing evolved from something I felt anxious about to something I loved. It was a chance for us to bond; a time in which I felt especially close to my baby. I was suddenly grateful to be experiencing it again.
My oldest ended nursing almost abruptly. Somewhere around 8 months she stopped. There were no tears or a slow weaning process. It just ended and life as we knew it continued. The eighth month came and went with Lola and interwoven were attempts to get her to use a bottle. Initially, when she was much smaller, she would take one and then one day she stopped. She would only nurse until eventually accepting a sippy cup but only with water. As the end of year one arrived, we tried countless ways to get her to drink milk but she only wanted to nurse. She would throw her cup and cry. Inside my heart ached. Sometimes I cried a bit too. I wasn’t trying to wean her; I just wanted her to be able to drink milk.
At 14 months old, she will now drink milk but she often wants to nurse. I will offer her a sippy cup of milk and sometimes she will take it and other times she will cry. And cry. Sometimes I give in and give her what she wants — comfort, to nurse in her mama’s arms. But as my time of solely working from home dwindles and the idea of daycare looks less like an idea and more like a reality, I find myself concerned. How am I going to stop doing something that we both have come to cherish?
A part of me can’t help but feel emotional about the idea of no longer nursing my baby. I’d hoped that we could continue nursing once or twice a day. She still wakes up several times a night crying to nurse by the way. And I know she doesn’t need to nurse for nourishment but still, I oblige. It’s comfort. It’s security. It’s what we’ve always done.
The connection I feel with my baby is a beautiful thing. I’m grateful that it manifests itself in various ways and I know it will continue to, whether it’s nursing her to sleep, or engaging in a tickle fest. Whether it’s curling up and reading bedtime stories or watching her face light up as she tastes pumpkin bread.
The connection we share — the bond we share will always be there.
But for now, this glorious season filled with lessons learned and memories made and in the making calls for a slight change. And although not always easy sometimes it — change — is necessary. I tell myself that what my baby and I have will remain special and magical long after our final nursing session has ended.
My hope is to keep nursing until she’s ready to stop just a lot less frequently. For those of you who had to scale back on nursing sessions or even wean your baby how did you do it?