Monday, June 26, 2006

Drink my juice young love chug-a-lug me

Well, I'm finished with nursing. Nolan is now completely weaned. (Be forewarned: Much talk of boobs and body fluids ahead.)

Partly I'm sad and misty-eyed at being through with nursing. It was always my special time with Nolan, something only I could do for him, and it made me feel like the very essence of Mom-ness; this is what mothers do, they nurse their babies. Sometimes when it was the last nursing at night and I was rocking him in the rocking chair and singing to him while we nursed, he would wrap one hand around my thumb and close his eyes, getting sleepier and sleepier. I loved that. I'll miss that.

And it means that he's not a baby anymore; the tiny little bundle that we brought home from the hospital is gone, and he's been replaced by a walking (almost), talking (sort of), curiousity-satisfation machine. In some ways, it's hard for me to believe that he'll never be that little guy again, and I've mourned for every stage of baby-hood that he's passed through and grown out of. I'll miss my little nursing baby.

But he was increasingly not very snuggly while we were nursing, particularly in the last few months as he's been learning to crawl and then walk. He got antsy. He didn't want to lie there and nurse, he wanted to flip over and try to sit up (while keeping my nipple in his mouth, of course), he wanted to fiddle with my glasses and my mouth and my shirt and see how hard he could smack me with his free hand before I grabbed it and told him to stop. And that, I won't miss.

Plus, it will be very VERY nice to have my entire body back to myself again. I'm hoping my breasts will shrink down a bit to their pre-pregnancy size (which, let's face it, wasn't very small to begin with, but it would be nice to wear my regular bras again). I'd like to (dare I say it?) try sleeping on my stomach once again. That used to be my favorite sleep position. My stretch marks have faded to an acceptably pale silvery-pink color, and I'm back down (even slightly below, woo-hoo!) to my previous weight. So the nursing was really the only thing left.

I started weaning him about two weeks before his birthday. All the books say you should wait until the child is a year old before you try to give him whole milk, but I figured two weeks one way or the other couldn't hurt. We were down to four nursing sessions per day at that point: first thing in the morning (6 am), mid-morning (10:30 or 11), mid-afternoon (3:30 or 4) and last thing at night (7pm). So at the mid-morning session, instead of nursing, I gave him a bottle of whole milk. I was prepared for rejection of the milk; they say some babies have to be gradually introduced to it via a mixture of breast milk and cow's milk in increasing ratios. But Nolan took the bottle and sucked the entire thing down as nonchalantly as if he were Dean Martin and I'd given him a martini. No problem whatsoever.

(The ease with which he took to the bottle made me a little sad; in some ways I was hoping it would be a little harder to replace me than that.)

So then it was just a matter of giving each nursing-replacement a while to "take" before moving on to the next one. I did the two middle-of-the-day ones one after the other, taking a week for each, and then held to that pattern for an extra week. Then I had to decide which would be the next session to go: the crack-of-dawn sunrise special or the sleepy, snuggly bedtime for bonzo. Mostly for convenience's sake, I decided to hold on to the morning one and lose the night time one. That was hard. But we still rocked and sang and cuddled, it was just with a bottle of milk instead. I gave that two weeks as well, to give my breasts a chance to catch up to the reduced demand.

So all the last two weeks I've only been nursing him once a day, in the morning, which is always nice and sweet because we're both sleepy and we lay in bed together for fifteen minutes or so while he nurses. It's been a wonderful way to wake up. But I decided yesterday was the last day, so this morning, KB got up and gave Nolan a bottle of milk instead of bringing him in to me to nurse.

I was pretty sad; a really lovely part of my life is over now. And it was so hard at the beginning! We had so many problems getting started nursing that I was sure he'd be damaged for life. I was stubborn about not wanting to give him formula and we eventually persevered, but it wasn't a smooth start.

It's amazing to me that he lived the first six months of his life drinking only breast milk - it's hard to believe that there are enough nutrients and fat and protein in that watery fluid to sustain a growing baby, but there are. Then, as we got toward the end of the first year, I started to get really tired of pumping breast milk to have a supply in the freezer (to mix with his cereal and give in bottles when someone else was taking care of him.) Nursing your baby is a miracle and a privilege, no question, but man, pumping breast milk sucks big donkey dick. You really feel for cows when you're sitting there, plastic suction cones stuck to your boobs, electric motor humming away, trying to think about your baby so your milk will let down and you can get the damn things off.

I'm proud of what my body is capable of. (I've decided to try to think about my stretch marks not as something to hide, but as a tattoo that says, "Fuck yeah I had a baby. And it was HARD.") And I'm proud we made it through the entire first year without switching to formula. I think Nolan was more ready to give it up than I was, as evidenced by his easy transition, and there's really no good that can come out of holding your kid back to satisfy your own needs. So I did it.

And now I can have more than one drink at a time! One of these nights.

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Electric Mayhem said...

He's still a baby!

This was sweet to read.

And yay, drinking!