Tuesday, October 30, 2007

end of an era

And just like that, we are weaned. Exactly two weeks ago tonight, Swee'pea nursed for the last time. And, as with so many things as they come to an end, I didn't know it would be the last time, so I didn't savour any of the details, didn't mark the occasion appropriately in my mind. But I'm ok with that.

We'd been down to just a bedtime feed since about June, when Swee'pea dropped the morning feed. Before that, we'd been at just a morning and bedtime feed since I nightweaned him in April. I have been toying with the idea of weaning him for months, but could never really come up with a solid argument for or against. For most of the summer, I have been the one initiating the bedtime feed, asking him if he'd like to nurse and taking him to our rocking chair. Then for a few weeks, he got very keen on nursing, specifically requesting a nurse after we'd put his pajamas on. Then he got sick. And our routines went out the window and I just decided not to remind him of the nursing option. And he hasn't nursed since.

I'm surprised that I feel just a little bit sad about it, because I thought I'd nursed him for long enough, and our weaning had been gradual enough that I would just be ready. I certainly felt ready. This kind of change is good, even if it comes with a touch of regret, with a small wish to go back and re-do the last time, with the foreknowledge that this is the final time. But there were at least TWO times in the summer that I remember nursing him while thinking that would be the last time. So I've really made my peace.

I suppose it is just that this change is irrevocable, and marks a milestone in Swee'pea's inexorable and growing independence, a good thing really but still undeniably bittersweet, that whole process of growing up. Two weeks ago we were still a nursing pair, and now we are simply, separately, a mother and child. I could be melodramatic and say something about Swee'pea no longer taking comfort in my body, but that's not true at all. He's still a cuddle-monkey, and he often engages in a little belly kneading and prodding for a bit of comfort here and there through the day. I have no doubt we have lots of cuddles ahead of us.

I wanted to honour the experience of breastfeeding Swee'pea with a montage of scenes and sensory details from the past 20 months. But already I can't really remember much. Isn't that terrible?

I do remember the warm feeling of wee baby Swee'pea in my arms, his tiny feet with the long skinny toes of an old man wedged against one elbow, his soft round newborn head against the other. Lately, nursing him has sometimes felt like trying to keep hold of an eel as he twists and writhes around, his feet now dangling below my knees and his head heavy against my elbow.

19 comments:

slouching mom said...

Ah. Yet another milestone. But it was uncomplicated, both for you and for him, and that is good.

The way it should be.

flutter said...

Nice and smooth, hmm?

Jennifer said...

Two weeks ago we were still a nursing pair, and now we are simply, separately, a mother and child.

Aww. *sniff, sniff*. But hooray for you and hooray for Swee'pea. For having this wonderful relationship and for happily moving to the next wonderful stage. Congrats!

Karen said...

yep, I know that feeling. It's hard to believe that that's how we are supposed to feel - for a time, until the new normal feels just right. It's odd.

bubandpie said...

This is not a comforting comment, but that's one thing I've found about weaning - how wholly the memory disappears. I got pregnant with the Pie about two months after weaning Bub, and by the time she was born I found myself totally incapable of remembering what nursing felt like. And then she was born and it was like, "Oh, right ... this."

Aliki2006 said...

i still get teary thinking about the end of the nursing days. Maybe you'll be different than I was, but I remember being relieved when Tessa was first weaned at 21 months (it didn't help that I had an OPEN sore on my breast) and then the nostalgia hit weeks later.

dawn224 said...

as rarely as Alex will lower himself to actually nurse rather than make me pump a bottle ... I do at least know I have to pay attention because every time is rare and likely to be the last time.

All these little firsts and lasts...

Kyla said...

The bittersweetness of growing up.

The line Jennifer quote got me too.

Mad Hatter said...

Oh but the ride you two had. You always wrote about the complexity of breastfeeding so beautifully. You will always have those memories with the words you set down in this space.

Bon said...

this pricked my eyes with tears, Sin. for all the last times to come, i think, for all of us, those invisible transitions that are irrevocable nonetheless, and yet as it should be.

sniff.

nomotherearth said...

I, too, was surprised how the absolute weaning hit me. I thought I was SO over-ready, and then I got all sentimental.

b*babbler said...

So sweet and sad all at the same time.

A big milestone, that no matter how ready you are for it, perhaps you aren't as ready as you thought.

I truly miss nursing my Peanut, as it was a dedicated snuggle time with a little girl who is so fiercely independent.

mamatulip said...

I'm always surprised by how much I forget about when the kids were babies. I would always think, "Oh, I'll remember this forever..." and poof! It's gone. Guess that's what baby books are for, eh?

I'm glad that you both were ready...that's how it should be. I was ready to wean Julia and she was too, but I wasn't ready to wean Oliver. I had to, abruptly, and it was an extremely emotional time for me.

edj said...

I wish I could remember more about when my kids were tiny! I keep thinking, "Ok so I have to remember NOW" but I really don't. Mamatulip is right.
Congrats on hitting a milestone. They are all bittersweet, but good, and necessary.

Beck said...

I was always surprised by the shock of sadness after weaning because I certainly was tired of nursing by the time we stopped.

Em said...

what a beautiful post... so poignant, so aching and beautiful.

hey, i've missed you too :) thanks for saying hi...

emxx

kgirl said...

As wonderful as nursing is, not nursing has its nice points too.

Naomi (Urban Mummy) said...

Oh! I feel for you.

The Weed is still nursing, but, alas, i suspect the days are numbered. There are days when he barely drinks at all. But then those days come when he doesn't want to let go.

I only nursed the Happy Boy for 7 months, but The Weed is almost 13 months, and still going strong. I dread the day when I have my own "last nursing" post.

Sigh.

Lisa b said...

It is so bittersweet for this to end. I hated hated hated so many aspects of breastfeeding and then I was so sad when it ended.