May 19, 2010

The End of an Era

Okay, not quite an era, but a pretty significant amount of time…

While Clover and I were in Indiana, she decided to stop nursing. She’s been pretty great (and I’ve been pretty lucky, I might add) about weaning herself. When she didn’t need a particular afternoon feeding, she made it crystal clear. Then, when she only needed to nurse twice a day, she made that clear too. Well the second morning we were in Indiana, she also made it clear that she was done nursing; for good. Don’t worry, for all you nursing advocates out there, I didn’t give up right away. I asked her morning and night for about ten days if she wanted to nurse, and each time got a definite “NO”.

My goal was to breastfeed Clover until she was at least 18 months old and stop around two years, depending on what she wanted/needed. So, when she decided she was done a week before her 18 month birthday, I should have been happy. I made it to my 18 month goal and she decided, on her own, that she was done… but honestly, my heart was a little bit broken. Yes, nursing is hard sometimes and can be a great challenge. For instance, I was the only one who could nurse her to sleep at night. However, I was providing such an amazing thing for my daughter and I loved it. I loved that I could do that for her, and that I was the only person who could. We were happily in a breastfeeding pattern for almost 18 months and then all of a sudden, she slammed on the breaks. No warning, no yellow light, no huge sign that said “CAUTION! YOUR BABY IS NOT QUITE A BABY ANYMORE!”

Everyone says “they grow up so fast” and I know firsthand how true that is, but what no one tells you is that sometimes it can absolutely take your breath away. One day they are a helpless little baby thriving on only your breastmilk, and then the next day, they are an independent 18 month old who doesn’t need breastmilk anymore and has an opinion on everything.

So, to Clover:

Breastfeeding you was an amazing journey. At first, you struggled to latch on, but we figured it out. Sometimes it was painful and overwhelming. You never really took to a bottle, so I was pretty much on demand at all hours. Even when I was sick, there was no one else to “do my job” for me. There were nights when I was so tired I cried when you wanted to nurse every hour and half, but once you started eating, and I watched your satisfied little body mold into mine, I relaxed and became thankful that I was able and selfless enough to provide that for you. Sometimes you would nurse for ten minutes and sometimes an hour (especially when we were out and I really wanted you to eat fast). I diligently took my prenatal vitamin every day because I knew you needed those vitamins. I avoided caffeine and sugar because it had a negative effect on you. I took criticism from people close to me when I continued to nurse you past your 1st birthday; but I also found lots of encouragement too. I knew it was right for you. When your tired little eyes looked up at me at night and you made the sign for “milk”, I felt comforted that I could give you what you wanted. I would nurse you to sleep and then hold you, sometimes for hours, while you slept in my arms. And while it was sometimes hard, there was never a moment that I wished I wasn’t doing it, or that I doubted it was the right thing for you. I will never forget the time I spent nursing you, and I will always cherish it.

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