Saturday, May 07, 2005

A Sad Day?

When my daughter was born, I had mixed feelings about breastfeeding. I really wanted to try it, but I had doubts about being patient enough to really keep at it for long. However, knowing all the potential benefits, I gave it a try.It worked out incredibly well for us. DD was a natural, and even though it was uncomfortable at first, we didn't really run into any of the problems with supply or infection that so many moms do. So I thought, well, we'll see how it goes when I go back to work. If I can keep up with the pumping, I'll do it. But if it's just too hard to get away 3 times a day, or if I dry up, so be it.Again, though, everything worked out better than I thought. I had to get used to the idea of supplementing with formula because I couldn't pump as much as I could produce when she actually nursed. But since I didn't really have my heart set on nursing indefinitely anyway, that didn't bother me that much. Besides, it was only 6 weeks or so later that we started introducing cereal and other foods. Even though at the time it seemed to take forever to get her used to something new, looking back I can barely remember I time when she WAS nursing exclusively.So, I decided I'd give it until 6 months, then decide what to do from there. Her 6-month birthday rolled around, though, and I barely gave any thought to weaning. I'd come this far, why not go the distance, right? My coworkers thought I was crazy -- by this point I hadn't had a drink in almost 18 months (between TTC, pregnancy, and nursing), didn't I just want my body back? Sort of, I guess, but by that point in time there was sheer stubbornness involved, too. I was on a mission to prove that we could do this.And we have made it all the way through the year. But the last 2 months or so I really did start to want my body back, especially when I started thinking about #2. That's quite a long way off for us yet, probably, but I WOULD like to have a little breathing room for myself in between weaning the first and starting to nurse the second. So I gradually started cutting out feedings one by one. The daytime ones were the easiest -- I stopped pumping at work on a Monday, and by the time Saturday rolled around I had adjusted to the idea of giving her a bottle myself. Really, it wasn't that big of an adjustment, since she often got a bottle anyway if we were out running errands or whatever.The middle-of-the-night feedings were the hardest. We never did get her to sleep through the night until I started weaning her. We had tried a few different things, but we just never had the heart (or the energy!) to see it through. She wasn't hungry at night, it was just about comfort, so we finally bit the bullet and "Ferberized" her (it sounds like torture, but I think the parents suffer more than the baby!). When she started to cry, we'd wait 10 minutes or so, then one of us would go in and pat her back or something for a couple minutes. Then we'd leave, even if she was still crying, and wait another 10 minutes. The first two nights, this process took 2-3 hours. We were exhausted (she was fine, waking up each morning with a big old grin - argh). I thought maybe this wasn't going to work after all. The third night she fell back asleep on her own before we even hit 10 minutes, and she's been doing pretty well ever since. Amazing!Anyway, to finally finish off a very long story, I nursed her today for what will be the very last time. In fact, we haven't nursed all week and she was just fine with it. But today I just couldn't resist. It kind of surprises me to be done so easily. If starting to nurse was difficult, but still easier than expected, quitting was physically a breeze. It's the emotional part that's getting me. I am very glad to be able to have a drink if I feel like it (I never could pump-and-dump, as so many people told me to do -- I couldn't bear to waste any of it!), and I love sleeping for 7 hours straight without getting up to nurse.Sigh. It all means, though, that my baby is almost not a baby anymore. And it wasn't all that hard for her -- so even though she obviously still needs me, she doesn't need me in that way anymore. Oh, boy. If I'm this weepy over THIS, wait till the poor kid tries to get me to let go of her hand the first day of school!!!

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