Saturday, October 17, 2009

Weaning

Every since Daniel was two months old, I've been pumping 7 times a day to provide milk for him. I've struggled with my supply for most of that time, but with meds, I got to the point where I was able to pump more than Daniel needed. My goal all along was to be able to provide Daniel with milk for the first year of his life. A few weeks ago, I realized that we had enough milk in our chest freezer to do just that and that I could wean.

Last Sunday, I started the process by eliminating pumping sessions. I track how much milk I make on a chart (of course). After so many months of striving for 40-45 oz/day, it's hard to change gears. This week, I stopped the meds I was taking to aid production and my supply drastically went down. I'm down to two pumps a day, and only getting between 10-12 oz/day. Monday I'll go to one pump a day and I'm pretty sure that by next weekend I'll be done.

I'm surprised by the emotions I'm feeling. On one hand, I'm pretty proud of myself. I had just about every complication possible when it comes to providing milk for my son, but I stuck it out and made my goal. He had maybe 4 oz of formula total, from his first week in the hospital when I was out of commission. (Not that formula is poison or anything, but my goal was to give him breast milk). It's been very satisfying to know that I was providing his nourishment--exclusively for the first six months. It was something only I could do for him, and I did it. I'm also proud that my little failure-to-thrive baby is now a very healthy, very hefty boy! My milk did that!

On the other hand, it's a little bittersweet knowing that this baby stage is coming to an end. Niels and I waited a long time to become parents, and it took three tries to have a little one to hold in our arms. We love Daniel so much! One advantage of having children in your 30s is that you can throw yourself into parenthood with your whole being. I thoroughly enjoyed my 20s. I had a great career, a beautiful home, I traveled, I wrote a book...basically, I accomplished all my life goals except the ones that included a family. I love that I get to stay home with Daniel. Even if my brain let me work, there is nothing I'd rather do than devote this period of my life to my son. What is a couple years in the span of a lifetime? It's an utterly joyful time for Niels and I and we love spending all our time with our son. Each day is a new discovery for him and we love that we are the ones that get to see Daniel reach each milestone.

We don't know if we'll have another child, so as I dump the pump, I wonder if I'm ending my last opportunity to fully nourish and provide for a child. I'm having a hard time putting my words together exactly, but I know that as much as I'll enjoy moving into the next season of having a mobile toddler, I will miss this sweet, sleep-deprived, attention-demanding, fully-dependent-on-mommy baby stage. Weaning feels like the final chapter in babyhood and I'm going to miss having a baby.


3 comments:

Niels said...

Very good post. Your thoughts are very clearly stated. It is the end of yet another phase. Many to follow, but I'll be right there with you!

jens mom said...

This is a hard time for many mothers. Remember the mare and foal's frantic crying those first weeks when we weaned them?
It is strange how people function. Anxious to meet THE one, then to marry, then to start a family, then to see the first steps, then to potty train, then to start school, then to finish school.....always waiting until. I am glad you are learning to cherish each day. There will more exciting ones to come...but for just today, just give him a hug and enjoy his first steps in his new shoes!
And by the way....you and Chris also had special needs feed....and wore those expensive StrideRite shoes!!!!!

Andrea said...

Beautiful post. I know exactly what you mean. Cameron is 16 1/2 months and I'm still nursing him at least once a day, and even though I'm anxious to have him completely weaned, it also makes me very emotional, because I cherish the bonding time and the fact that only *I* can provide him with this particular nourishment.
You are a wonderful mommy to Daniel!