Initially, my son and I had a love-hate relationship with nursing. The bleeding, the scabs, the excruciating pain, the weighted feedings, the incessant screaming at my breast when the milk wouldn’t come fast enough, the projectile vomit when it came out much too fast, the nipple shields, the agonizing over every last drop that slowly—so slowly—pumped into the bottle, the slow-flow bottle-nipple, the paced bottle feeding, the lactation smoothies…the biting.
When we hit our 10 month mark, I saw the finish-line. With 316 glorious ounces of frozen breast milk in the freezer and only two months away from my goal, mother-led weaning–the little minx–seemed like a fantastic idea.
I proceeded as gently as possible. After daycare, instead of our usual nursing session, I’d offer Jackson a bottle. If he protested, throwing the bottle down and crying that desperate cry that means one thing and one thing only, I knew he wanted the milk straight from the tap. And so we’d nurse. No biggie. It was a process and that’s why I started early.
A few weeks into encouraging my son to wean, he started biting. Hard. He’d chomp down, I’d yelp, he’d giggle, and then he’d roll off the My Breast Friend pillow and onto the floor to play. No amount of the ever-so-reliable Kellymom advice stopped him from biting either. It took a few days for me to figure it out. Yup, it’s working. He’s weaning.
Suddenly I noticed he no longer protested the after-school bottle. Instead, he preferred it. I began to fantasize about what was in store for me in the very near future.
Soon I could sleep on my stomach! Soon I could wear a tight top without worrying about a breast-pad crinkling inside my nursing bra and creating the illusion that I have abnormally lumpy breasts. Soon I could go to bed bra free without staining my pajama top with milk. Soon I could drink a freaking glass of wine with dinner! I could attend a meeting at work without folding my arms over my chest because my left breast (AKA my money maker) filled up with milk faster than my right (the slow and low) and I got caught on a phone call and couldn’t pump before the meeting. Thus, entering the boardroom looking like Dolly Parton on one side and Amanda Peet on the other.
Soon I would have my body back!
Mother-led weaning was going just swimmingly. Until I checked my freezer. My magnificent stash, my safety net, was dwindling down and I was no longer replacing it ounce for ounce. Stripped down to its most basic form, breastfeeding is just supply and demand. As Jackson followed my lead and demanded less and less, I supplied less and less. Panic set in. I busted out the calculator and scratch paper. Would I have enough to get us to his first birthday? Just barely. Down to the very last ounce.
I’m now less than two weeks away from Jackson’s first birthday—and I’m keenly aware that this all-encompassing, all consuming, completely surreal and totally sublime chapter of our lives is coming to a bitter end. We’re down to just three nursing sessions a day and I’ve begun to cherish each and every one. While nursing, I no longer scroll through Facebook, I no longer catch-up on the news or text my girlfriends. I no longer become totally engrossed in whatever deliciously trashy reality TV program I’m watching at the time. I no longer take our nursing sessions for granted. I can’t. There aren’t that many left.
Now, I stare down at his precious little face while he’s nursing, so comforted, so serene. I enjoy his tiny little body cuddled against me so warmly. I watch his hand stroke my arm or his tiny fingers pinch my arm-fat. Now I giggle softly as he pushes my face to the side so that he can pull at my ear lobes while he drinks his milkies. Now I wonder why I haven’t been doing this the entire time.