Just like that, it’s over.
Ironically, I had been counting down to the day I wean you, and I figured that the cut-off day would be when you turn one, in exactly three weeks’ time as I’m writing this. I don’t know if I would have really stopped breastfeeding you then, since I didn’t stop when your brother turned one, as I had planned, but only did when I got pregnant with you two months after his first birthday.
Almost right from the beginning of breastfeeding you, I had actually been looking forward to the day I stop. Mostly because I hated expressing milk (in between feeds), and I hated that feeling of being too full in the breasts.
But also, right from the beginning, I had enjoyed nursing you just as I enjoyed nursing your brother. I love how it felt to hold you close and to know you are mine, in as much as I am yours. Nobody else will ever experience this with you… plus, it was entirely painless unlike those first few extremely painful months with Matthew.
And so, I got through the year day by day, month by month, by consciously not counting the time as it went by, but just focusing on doing what I wanted to do to nurse you. (“At least six months… at least nine… at least a year…”)
Just as October approached and I started making grand plans to wrap up this whole breastfeeding exercise – I can go shop for bras finally! I can sleep on my front again! – you ended it before I could even ponder further.
Thank God we took some photos before that happened.
10 days after this photo was taken, there we were, with me nursing you before your afternoon nap, and you chomped down on my nipple. By that time, you had already cultivated a playful habit of pulling your head back and eyeing my nipple like it was a toy, before reaching out to grab hold of it. Sometimes, milk would squirt right out and there you would be, gurgling away so happily. You are such a joy.
That afternoon though, you bit me and I pulled back laughing with you. And so you continued for a few times until I said, “No. Emma, NO.” Suddenly, your face scrunched up, you pouted and then started bawling. But you continued to be breastfed after I comforted you.
How would I have ever known then, that that was it?
Two days later, hurt by your rejection and confused by your refusal to nurse, I searched online and apparently, this is what they call a “nursing strike” (Babies are really sooooo weird). The descriptions offered online for this entirely matched my experience. Everything happened the same way, right down to how you would take one look at my nipple later, and then it’ll be all tears from you, even as you struggle away.
It is supposed to last from 7-10 days. Today is Day 21 since that fateful day I said “No” to you.
My poor child, did mummy scare you away from nursing?
Someday, when you’re old enough, I will tell you all about this, and you will know how much I have loved to hold you close as you fed from me. I miss breastfeeding you so much. And I miss cuddling that way with you.
Up till today, I am still expressing just so I’m still producing mik, and I’m still trying to nurse you though I feel like, I know it’s over. Now, when I lift my shirt, you look at my nipple like it’s a familiar thing to you, and sometimes you open your mouth to bite me, but you just don’t feed anymore. And you being such a gentle imp, look just so incredibly cute acting out your refusal, but oh, if you only know how rejected that makes me feel!
So yes, I can buy my new bras soon, and I’m not as full as I was when you were being nursed… but I wish I could have just one more breastfeeding session with you. I would cherish that so very much.
There is a poem I found on the forums while researching this, and it says exactly what I feel, knowing that yearning to be weaned gently:
Wean Me Gently
by Cathy Cardall
I know I look so big to you,
Maybe I seem too big for the needs I have.
But no matter how big we get,
We still have needs that are important to us.
I know that our relationship is growing and changing,
But I still need you. I need your warmth and closeness,
Especially at the end of the day
When we snuggle up in bed.
Please don’t get too busy for us to nurse.
I know you think I can be patient,
Or find something to take the place of a nursing;
A book, a glass of something,
But nothing can take your place when I need you.
Sometimes just cuddling with you,
Having you near me is enough.
I guess I am growing and becoming independent,
But please be there.
This bond we have is so strong and so important to me,
Please don’t break it abruptly.
Wean me gently,
Because I am your mother,
And my heart is tender.