Tag Archives: independence

There is No “I” in Wean

23 Jun

When I was pregnant with my first child, I fought the idea of a lengthy breastfeeding regimen tooth and nail. From my mother-in-law, to the local grocery clerk, I was quick to assure them it would last three, maybe four months, tops. It was not so much the idea of tender, swollen boobs, or shirts soaked with la leche that got to me. No, it was the lack of control over calling the shots to my body and how much access this little creature would get to me. Boy, was THAT naïve.
However, much to my surprise (and secret pleasure) I enjoyed breastfeeding….further; I was actually good at it. In fact my daughter and I made a pretty good team! My genuine delight in feeding her was offset only by a subtle, yet, very present undercurrent of competition. As my friends began to drop off the nursing wagon at four, six, or nine months, post-natal, I was still going strong. I was beginning to emerge the sole survivor in the game of ladies who lactate. The added bonus was the shedding of many pounds of baby weight as I got closer to my baby’s first birthday. Nothing could stop me!
I had to eat my share of crow, though. I had told so many people that I was absolutely not going to do it past the first three months of my daughter’s life, that when those same people witnessed my ongoing and clearly obsessive desire to breastfeed, they laughed so hard you would have thought they were the ones with the leaky pelvic floor.
Alas, as we neared the one-year mark, my normally milk-mad baby began to lose interest. Everyone seemed to realize this except me. Our sweetly intimate nursing sessions became shorter and less-frequent. We got down to a once-a-day feeding at dinnertime. She’d latch on and then pull off immediately. I convinced myself that she was just full or tired. We were at the 13 month mark, but wasn’t it just yesterday that the lactation consultant was showing me the proper latch?
The real blow came when I tested out this theory by offering her a bottle of formula. She sucked it down greedily. Then I realized, a bit dejectedly, that she had outgrown the need for my milk. Thoughtfully, I realized that this was likely the first example of her exercising her will against mine and being able to move on. My daughter is now nearly four years old. The past several years have proven that insight again and again. We’ve crossed many bridges together, from taking her first steps, to learning how to button shirts, brush her hair and teeth and climb up the park’s jungle gym. Along the way, she’s needed me as a guide, but once she found her footing she knew when to turn and say, “Mommy, I can do it by myself.”

And I love her for it.

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