Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Am I done?

"Mommy milk" is what we call it here.

It is a miracle. Sure, it can be explained scientifically; we can talk of hormones and ducts and production.

But it sure seems miraculous that I've been able to nourish my children with a sweet, perfect substance made by my own body, and have bonded with them on a level beyond physical, chemical reactions.

I nursed Chickie almost two and a half years, including nine months of pregnancy, and three months of tandem nursing (breastfeeding both her and Zoodle.) Weaning Chickie was a remarkably smooth process.

I figured I might not breastfeed Zoodle quite so long, but I don't think I expected that, at 18 months, almost a year younger than Chickie's weaning age, he'd be losing interest. Lately, Zoodle seems to touch my shirt and ask, "Ma?" (Milk?) mostly out of habit. If I "expose the taps," so to speak, he often doesn't even take a sip; if I tell him no, he doesn't seem to mind. When he does nurse, it's usually for a few seconds or maybe a minute; he's only been really getting down to business and taking full feedings about once or twice a week.

I certainly didn't expect that I'd feel so ready to be done. When Chickie was 18 months, I couldn't imagine stopping, even when I found out I was pregnant with Zoodle. But, oh my goodness, I've been nursing for three years and nine months (today), and I'm just done with it.

At least I think I am.

This is really an emotional decision. Human milk is such an amazingly nourishing substance. The World Health Organization recommends at least two years of nursing, and while I think I want this phase of my life to be over, I also feel guilty. And a little sad, because it's been such a beautiful thing for my relationship with my kids.

But when it comes down to it, I'm just tired of being a nursing mom. I'm tired of being depended on in that way. I'm ready for my body to belong to two people--me and my husband--without that adorable third wheel asking, "Ma?"

I think the timing makes sense, since Zoodle doesn't seem too attached to nursing right now. He did fine when I was away for a weekend, and shortly before that, he didn't nurse for 48 hours even when I was nearby, just because he wasn't interested.

So, when I look at his loss of interest--and mine--I think it's time. I didn't nurse him at all yesterday. A very short session on Monday afternoon was probably our last.

I'm relieved. I'm sad.

And I'll always treasure this "Mommy milk" miracle.


*Monica said...

It is a beautiful thing to nurse your children and also very beautiful to gain your body back. Good job, Mom!

Anna said...

it's so amazing that you could do it for so long..but if he's ready to let go, then let him and work on regaining ownership of your body! You will soon go from milk factory to Beth!
and pass the wand to me, cause I'm ready to start all over again! ;)

Ryan Ashley Scott said...

I think maybe it's tough because you know it's something that, once you give it up, you'll never get back again. Every child is different, so I wouldn't feel guilty about it (actually, I would - but that's just the nature of motherhood, I guess). Enjoy the freedom that's coming your way. :) He seems to be telling you it's okay!

Sarah said...

Good for you Beth. I am in the same situation with Marshall and I am having all the same feeling you are. I have so enjoyed being my child's comfort in everyway and I am a little sad to see that end.

Tia said...

It was really sad for me too. But after a week or so, I was so relieved to be done! Good luck!

Call Me Cate said...

Sounds like you and Zoodle are coming to the same conclusion on this. Much better than disagreeing and having a lot of unpleasant feelings about it.

SurvivorBlessing said...

you've done such a wonderful job in breastfeeding... coming from the east coast where alot of woman are not even interested in trying. So doing it for such a long time is so beneficial for your children. But seeing Zoodle's behavior - I think he might be really ready. Even though it might be sad, but there are so many other, and new, ways to bond with the children and spend time with them. It is part of growing up for him! It is hard to let go, but it might be for the better for both of you.... and a much nicer way then having him to wean because you don't want to do it any longer! So this is a very healthy and positive way....

Charmaine said...

Aw. That is the most bittersweet post I've ever read.


InspiredDreamer said...

What a sweet post. I hope you can rest assured that both of your children will still need your nourishing love for many many years, just in other ways. And no amount of chocolate milk or soda can ever replace that. :)

LEstes65 said...

Good for you, mommy. And I'm glad you're not letting the guilt get to you. I think of the 8 months my body allotted and then just shut down. For both boys. You've been blessed and the timing is awesome.

Love you.

Unknown said...

You sound like you're both ready...and you've done incredibly well and been blessed to have nursed for so long. I can't even imagine nursing two at once!! Whatever you will be the right decision for Y'ALL. It doesn't matter what some book/organization/person have to do what's right for you. This is not a one-size fits all situation!