Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Weaning Chronicles winding down

I can't believe it's already almost time to pick up my son from his new Spanish preschool and I'm still in my pajamas.

I need to get down before something changes that it is Tuesday at 11:30 and I haven't nursed him since Saturday at 7:30. I was rushing and he happily jumped down after a turn on each side because I said I needed to go do errands as a surprise for his birthday, which is TODAY! (I bought a Curious George balloon and ordered Helium ones to pick up Monday morning before his playdate party).

Then Sunday was a very busy day with lots of outside activity, and he fell asleep on the way home from another bday party. It was a little weird for me to not even offer to nurse him -- just washed him off and put him in his jammies. And then the next day was busy with friends. He asked once in the afternoon, and I said we could after dinner. But then he didn't pick up on on the hints that I was leaving to tutor, so my husband put him to bed again without having nursed at all.


Fastforward over twelve hours (to Tuesday night). I didn't get to finish that post. I was going to try to capture all my feelings about weaning, but now I think I'm on the other side.

After two days of no nursing, it seemed clear that my son was ready to be done. He had a blast the last two days, and today too. So after we went to dinner, opened the last round of presents (just a few from us), we made motions to get ready for bed and he said, "I want you to put me to bed." I assured him I would.

In the rocking chair, I showed him the album of my pregnancy and the early days of his babyhood. I talked about how much he needed help back then and how much he can do on his own now. I said, "You didn't nurse all day yesterday or all day the day before, so I know you're ready."
I videotaped myself telling him, as he snuggled next to me, looking out at the camera:
"It has been an honor and a privilege to nurse you for these past three years. It's helped us to be close in a really special way. But now you're three, and we talked about you stopping nursing when you were three, right? It's your birthday, right?"
"And now we can do other things that will help us feel close."
"Are you ready to go to bed now."
"Yeah. I want to see" and then tried to look at the video.
We watched the snippet I took of the violinist at the restaurant and then just looked at each other for a few moments, both smiling, me crying, too. I explained again that this would be our last time nursing, and he just said, "Last time." I asked him to give me a hug, and he did it with enthusiasm. Somehow he shifted from his head on my left side to my right, and he asked, "This side?" I said sure and turned off the light.

His latch already seemed different. I was distracted at first wondering if I shouldn't have taped that (I'm already glad I did for me) and feeling like watching the violin was out of character...

Fastforward now 24 hrs (to Wednesday night). He woke up last night crying as I was typing the above entry. He was asleep next to his dad in our bed by the time I went up. He did ask this morning, "Can we nurse downstairs?" I said no, we were all done. I can't remember if he whined a little or not b/c now I'm thinking about tonight. He was sad that I was going to leave to tutor and not nurse him. LJ said, "This is hard for Mommy too. Give her a hug. It's a change, but you're both ready to be done." I reiterated that he was grown up and I loved him so much and always would. He started getting sad after I did interlocking hands and sang "You Are My Sunshine." That's when he climbed into my arms and wanted to nurse. LJ's words helped me to focusl; I got E to calm down by telling him I understood. "Remember last night, how I videotaped that it was going to be our last time?" He nodded. I think I said something like I would miss it, too and asked for a BIG hug!

I said I'd see him in the morning and we'd go to school together. "Will we have rolls?" he asked. LJ and I explained that we'd have cake because it was his birthday this week and that he'd get to wear the special crown. A minute later, LJ said from the bedroom, "10 Minutes to Bed," the name of a book a friend got for us, and E started toddling down to the hall to hear the story. He smiled and said to me, "See you in the morning." We blew kisses and each told each other, "I love you very much!" I'm told he fell asleep pretty quickly, and certainly without fuss. I'm so glad he had his sad time with me while I was hear so that we could acknowledge that a transition was happening.

Then at 11, about 3+ hrs after he'd gone to bed, he woke crying. Not sure how long he'd been awake-- didn't have the monitor on and LJ was playing guitar downstairs. When I went up, he was sitting up in his bed. I asked if he needed to go potty. He replied, "I just want to nurse" in a way that said, no, you can't fix it because I can't have what I want and I know it. He wasn't asking; just telling me how he felt. I said sympathetically, "I understand" and laid him back down in his bed. I tucked him in and laid my arm over his body while I half-laid down next to him. He wanted to try to feel my skin on my belly but didn't get grabby, and he fell back asleep quickly. I wish I'd remembered to start Walnut flower essence for transition and Red Chestnut for connection to loved one before his birthday!


So back to last night -- the last night of nursing. After initially questioning my use of technology, I decided just to be in the moment -- to remember the experience I was having right then instead of worrying I'd documented its prelude wrong! Honestly, JC! Still, in the darkness, I also thought about all the time we'd spent with him in my arms at my breast. I wept but felt very much like this was just a poignant passageway. I knew it was the right time for us, and I know that not having this particular kind of connection will free us up to make new connections that are right for us right now. It had been such a lovely three days without nursing as part of our dynamic. It was clear to me he wanted permission to let it go, to not have that need anymore and to not be fulfilling a need of mine, either. I know I was invested in this relationship at so many levels.

When I came downstairs, LJ held me and I sobbed. Everything about the whole three years was right there, especially the exact three years earlier. At 8:50 we would have been prepping to go into the OR, and by 9:40 we were singing to our son, starting this journey that has been so intense and powerful. I keep telling him how lucky I am to have him in my life. LJ said E was lucky to have me. I really don't believe in luck; I have to trust that we all chose each other. I believe that about everything, but most things it's not immediately clear why things happen a certain way. With mothering my son, it feels so abundantly clear. Even the moments, days, weeks of frustration and doubt; there is such a strong sense for me that this is an inevitable unfolding that someone wiser than me or my more enlightened soul in the pre-life planned out. I know this is getting pretty woo-woo, but this has been a powerful time for me.

As I move to finally publish this post, I'm realizing that I have a new identity. I'm no longer a breastfeeding mom. Now I need to add the label "weaning" (I guess it should have been there before - maybe I'll go back and do that to help me see the progression). I need to find the rest of my real bras or, novel idea, actually buy some. After this birthday week of gorging on cake (gluten-free, dairy-free and low-sugar only goes so far if you keep adding chocolate chips with every bite), I'm going to get serious about a cleanse, and this time I can really do it up because no one else will be getting anything I might detox.

Wow. I nursed my son for three years. And now I'm done. And he's going to be just fine.

And so am I.

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