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Once I Wean My Daughter, How Will I Relax?

Before breatfeeding, I used to look at pictures of designer shoes to unwind. Now what will I do?

I’m going to miss nursing. People keep asking me when I plan to wean, and I tell them what I’ve said since Lila was born. My plan was to nurse for a year. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one year of breastfeeding, so that seemed like a good guideline, and I adopted it as my personal goal.

But the thing is, we’re racing toward the year mark. I had no idea how quickly it would pass.

We have certainly had some hiccups along the way, with my milk supply initially being low, along with bouts of mastitis and thrush. But Lila and I mastered nursing, and I’ve come to really enjoy it.

Our days are often chaotic and overflowing with Lila-related tasks. These days, she tires us both out with her long-distance speed-crawling, adventures in discovery (the kitchen cabinets open!), and practicing for ballet class as she reaches for objects I mistakenly thought she couldn’t reach standing on her tippy toes. In short, when Lila’s awake, I am typically racing after her.

Breastfeeding is an oasis. It’s one of the most relaxing things I do all day. I know where Lila is and that she’s safe. She’s content, and so am I. Leaving aside those times she’s keyed up and transforms meal time into a Cirque du Soleil performance, it’s generally also a peaceful time for us both. She feeds herself neatly, and I can simply be. It’s a time for just the two of us.

In the pre-Lila era, I had other ways to relax. One of my favorites involved online window shopping. After an intense day of mental gymnastics (thinking, writing, and problem solving), I enjoyed mindlessly gazing at beautiful purses and shoes on fashion web sites. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t afford, and would never buy, the wearable art I was ogling. Rather, it was simply calming to look at beautiful objects. It was much like visiting an art museum that was always open, let me bring my own snacks, and constantly refreshed its collection.

These days, I don’t typically have time to follow the latest Dior or Valentino creations, but I nurse Lila, and that soothes us both. This can be true even when she wakes up in the middle of the night. Lila is all business for those early morning snacks. So, they are speedy.

While I’d prefer not to get up after going to bed, I make an exception for Lila. I’ve been known to doze while Lila eats–and sometimes falls asleep, while continuing to eat–as we cuddle in her glider. I generally conk as soon as I return to bed. In those cases, breastfeeding is like my Tylenol PM, only with fewer chemicals and potential side effects.

Overall, nursing has been very convenient. I leave my nursing cover in Lila’s diaper bag, and whenever we’re in the mood for a family outing, I don’t have to worry about packing bottles or formula. We simply go. However, we’re on the cusp of becoming one of those families that must always remember to bring a baggie of Cheerios. That will require some brain reprogramming.

It’s true that as Lila eats more solid food and nurses less, we won’t need to be together quite so much. She still needs help at meals–especially with post-meal face and hand washing, but we are both gaining independence. It won’t be long before I’ll be able to attend conferences, happy hours, or other adult (read: not kid-friendly) events. That’s all positive. I enjoy the company of people who can carry their half of a conversation. But, I also enjoy hearing Lila babble and watching her explore.

As we race-crawl toward the one-year mark, I marvel at how much has changed. Breastfeeding has been one constant for us. It’s been a wondrous, calming way for the two of us to reconnect and for Lila to refuel. When Lila decides she prefers eating avocado and farmer cheese exclusively, we’ll surely switch, but I’m going to miss breastfeeding. I guess I’ll have to find a new way to unwind.

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