I think my problem always comes from having preconceived notions about how my breastfeeding journey is going to play out with any particular child. I was fully committed to breastfeeding each child. Not because I subscribe to the “breast is best and formula is like feeding your child rocket fuel!” way of thinking, but because I am cheap. Formula is expensive, man! Like, we’re going to have to cut out some non-essentials and budget for this, expensive. I guess the rocket fuel manufacturers jealously hoard the stuff or something. I kid, I kid.
Anyway, I dedicated myself to breastfeeding my first three children, and was largely successful at it. A little too successful with Wren, since she would not even take a bottle. But then I got pregnant, and each time my supply completely died when the nausea and vomiting of the
first trimester all the trimesters hit. So, I was forced to wean and start each one on formula well before I was prepared to do so. The babies were completely unfazed (even the one who a few months prior was completely refusing bottles), but I found myself really sad about it. And it shocked me. I definitely wouldn’t categorize myself as a crunchy, attachment mother, but even I couldn’t deny that I was actually enjoying the sweet moments nursing my babies. It is bizarre and kind of silly, but I feel a strange sense of accomplishment watching those thigh rolls form on their little legs and my skinny old man-looking newborns filling out nicely into chubby babies. So, after I would get pregnant and couldn’t even keep water down, I sadly bade goodbye to our nursing relationship, and would start shelling out the big bucks for formula.
But Rhea was going to be different. We finally had our post partum NFP routine down pat (it only took us three surprises to figure it out), so I could breastfeed her as long as I wanted to. I had in my head these Cassatt-like visions of still nursing a pleasingly plump toddler. Well, the best-laid schemes of mice and men, so the saying goes. Rhea turned nine months, and lost a good bit of interest in nursing. Every session but the morning and night ones were a struggle. Then, by ten months, she dropped the night session too. Nothing I could do would entice her to nurse. She loved solid food, and that was it.
She turned one last week, and here we are. I no longer have the “I’m cheap” excuse to keep up this breastfeeding battle, because she can just have whole milk now. We only have her morning nurse when she wakes up still, and I’ll keep doing that for as long as she’ll let me. But, she is losing her enthusiasm for that too, and I’m thinking it won’t be long now. And I don’t know why that makes me so sad. Babies grow up! And each different season of their lives is an adventure, and has its own benefits. I know all that. But for some reason, I still mourn. I know I will miss it for a while. Until, God willing, the next one comes along. Does anyone else feel this way about weaning, or am I drunk on hormones?
Stretch your wings and fly, little one. Some day, you will grow up and leave my little nest. I am praying earnestly for you, and that I do God’s will in raising you. To love someone is to suffer for them, and I will suffer watching you grow up and leave your father and me, but I also know that leaving us when you’re grown is what is best for you. St. Augustine said that the definition of love is to will the good of another. It is good that you are weaning and growing up. And I take so much comfort in that. You and your sisters make us proud, and we are grateful for you every day. So go ahead and keep growing, and don’t mind my tears. They are simply growing pains.