Wax and Wean

When she was brand new, her little hand would hug my pinky as our tummies touched.  As she grew, she let go of my finger to slide her hand on my side, a hand that was always cold and would cause me to catch my breath and arch my back for a brief second.  I would then relax and watched as she was soothed to sleep.

In the early months of her life, we would drift to sleep together.  I’d catch myself, jerk awake at the pain in my neck from sleeping upright, to see she had unlatched and was sound asleep.  Now, she stays awake and yells, “No!” when I begin to sing, my indication that bedtime has commenced.

For months, I have threatened my husband with plans for my weekend alone:  “I’m leaving as soon as Chloe turns one!”  Once one, I could begin to wean her.

One happened a week ago, and I have found myself ambivalent.  How I want my freedom, yet, how I don’t want to stop breastfeeding my baby.

People say that breastfeeding produces a bond between mother and child unlike anything else.  I’m not going to make the experience out to be something more than it was.  There were definitely times when I felt an amazing warmth and closeness toward my baby; I can still remember the first time all of my babies successfully latched on to me.  The apprehensive moments before, wondering if we would succeed, and then–he did it! She did it! She did it!  We’re nursing!  I knew I was blessed.

However, I know a mom can feel an amazing bond when feeding her baby with a bottle, too.  To hold one’s baby and watch as she drinks, gulping down the milk that will produce those endearing dimples in her squishy thighs–how could one not fall in love?!

The magic of breastfeeding for me, though, was knowing that God had equipped me with everything my baby needed; she became chubby solely off of what my body produced, and she depended on me alone to nourish her in that way.

And so that magic day has passed, and I sit.

For five days I didn’t even make a game plan as I had with the other two babies–until two days ago.  I was watching a friend’s two-year-old, in addition to my two-year-old, and the mid-morning nursing session would have been a little complicated.  So we didn’t do it.  Chloe was fine; she was distracted by all the fun of a new friend, but my heart ached a little.

Then, yesterday, we skipped that meal again.  Caleb and Hannah Grace had their last-day-of-preschool picnic during the time I would normally nurse, so we didn’t.

And I look at the clock now and know that in a few minutes Chloe will wake up from her nap, and I don’t have any distractions for her today.  She will want to nurse, and I will want to give in.  Or maybe she won’t want to nurse, and that fact might bother me more.

Motherhood can be crazy–we long for our babies to crawl and walk and talk, loving the excitement each new age and stage brings, yet when they’re four, a small part of us wishes that they were still that chubby bundle of giggles that didn’t mind if we squeezed them and rocked them in our arms until they fell asleep on our chests.

I could postpone weaning–there’s no rule that says I must stop today–but how I look forward to no more days of children drinking ketchup and maple syrup out of the refrigerator while Chloe is drinking something a little more nutritious. I look forward to scheduling appointments based on the day that I’m available, not when a baby needs to eat.  I look forward to a small taste of freedom.

And I feel so selfish admitting that fact, but I know I shouldn’t.  For almost five years I have been pregnant or nursing; I only stopped nursing the other two when fitting them on my lap with a competing baby bump became uncomfortable.  My body is ready to rediscover normal.

But to my heart, what I’ve done for the last four years is normal, and my heart knows that I might not experience this normal again.

So as I sit and tear up a little thinking about my baby growing up and how she might be my last to nurse, I also say a silent prayer to God, thanking Him for this experience.  I’ve been blessed with three children who easily nursed and shared in this beautiful bond with me, but more importantly, I’ve been blessed with three beautiful children.

4 thoughts on “Wax and Wean

  1. I think it's amazing what you've done! You'll always be able to look back and know you had that experience with them. I was never able to breastfeed after my reduction – I always wished I was able. But, I have to remember that I was blessed enough to be able to afford food at all for my babies – breast or not.

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    1. So true! We all do the best we can with the circumstances in which we live, and I think our children will benefit more from the love we show them on a daily basis, not the kind of milk we fed them.

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