A Nursing Story

I just calculated that I have spent 88 of the last 96 months of my life either pregnant or nursing. Wow.

If you had told me eight years ago that this was my fate, I’d have died laughing. I’m not talking Funny Ha Ha. I’m talking Funny Kill. Me. Now.

I mean, I knew I wanted kids.

Eventually.

I thought two was the perfect number.

I knew I’d want to stay home with them, but  I didn’t think much farther ahead than that.

When we decided to “start trying”, it took us five long, agonizing months.  I honestly do NOT know how those with infertility struggles deal with the turmoil of trying to conceive for months and years on end. Those five months were the longest of my life!

Finally I got those two blue lines.  I was ecstatic.

I started researching. Right. Away.  Cause I’m obsessive like that.

I researched everything from parenting techniques to car seats to diapers to nutrition. Of course everything you read tells you that nursing is the best nutrition for a baby.  But I was skeptical.

You want me to use The Girls for THAT!?

I. Don’t. THINK. So.

But in the end, I was too cheap to buy formula.  So I gave nursing a try.

It took some practice in the beginning, but we figured it out.

I planned to nurse for the obligatory six months.

I nursed for 19.

Not 19 days.  19 months.

And I discovered that I loved nursing.  It was a sad day when I weaned D, but it was time.  We did it gradually, and it went smoothly.

Eight months later we decided to get pregnant again, and I got pregnant right away. C arrived a month ahead of schedule, on Christmas Eve, and I began nursing again.

Because she was a preemie, we got off to a rocky start.  I had to supplement with pumped milk in bottles and with formula until she was strong enough to nurse on her own. But I was determined, and soon enough she caught on.

When C was 26 months old, I got pregnant with R.  Unexpectedly.  I figured I better stop nursing.

Yep. You heard me.  I had been nursing C for 26 months.

When R was born, she was a natural.  She latched on in the delivery room, and she never looked back.

Now she is 16 months old.  And until last week, we were still nursing.  I’ve been known to say that I’d nurse her until she goes to college. Ha!  But I fully expected to nurse for a at least two years.

Recently, though, I started feeling like it’s time to wean.  There is not one main reason.  It’s a combination of things.  I have several medical tests coming up that require me to abstain from nursing for a period of time.  Then I’m going away for six days in May, leaving R at home with my husband and my parents.

And besides all that, R is pretty demanding about nursing.  More so than either of my other children were at this age. I figured that, if I don’t wean now, it’s only going to get harder as she becomes more aware of what she wants and what she is missing.

It’s been hard, but we are both adjusting.  The hardest part, getting her to fall asleep without nursing, was accomplished first. It was easier than I expected.  She still wanted to nurse when I put her to bed, but when she realized that I wasn’t offering, she would resign herself to take what she could get.

I still rock her to sleep for every nap and bedtime.  I love that time.  It’s precious to me, and it has replaced the bonding we had with nursing.

So for the last few weeks, I was just nursing once a day, first thing in the morning.  This has always been my favorite feeding, the last one I weaned with C as well.  It’s such a sweet way to start the day.

I thought it would be really hard to let this last feeding go.  In the back of my mind, I envisioned not giving it up for quite some time.

Although, it wasn’t really even for her anymore.  There were mornings when we didn’t have time to nurse, and she was fine with that. But for me, giving up that last feeding means I’m done nursing forever, closing this chapter of my life. I didn’t think I was ready for that.

But then something unexpected happened.  The other day, she crawled into my bed for her morning nursing, and I knew I was ready.  It just didn’t make me sad to think of skipping it.  Or to think of stopping for good.

So as I nursed her that morning, I just knew it would be the last time.  I wasn’t even sad.

And as simple as that, we’re done.

I’m ready to move on to the next stage.  I’ve always said the baby stage is my favorite.  And it is for many reasons.  But, as sweet and magical as the baby stage is, it’s hard, hard work. There are a lot of parts of it I won’t miss, like leakage (you nursing moms know to what I’m referring) and nighttime feedings and those horrid nursing bras.

And, really, there is SO MUCH to look forward to.

So. I’m choosing to celebrate, rather than mourn, the passing of this stage.  In fact, I think I might have a nursing bra burning party in honor of this momentous occasion.

Anyone know how to build a bonfire?