When I was pregnant with Lids I knew I wanted to breastfeed if at all possible and I knew I wanted to do everything in my power to make it possible. My next dream was to continue breastfeeding until she was at least 1 year old. That dream has been fulfilled.
Now, at 13 months, the (gradual) wean is on. I suppose it has been on since Lids started eating solids, followed by the gradual drop of nursing sessions from the nursing on demand infant to the 4-5 nursings a day baby-toddler she was around her first birthday. But this is the first time it really feels like weaning. This is the first time that Lids is getting milk that isn’t through breastfeeding.
I have been working at home since Lids was born so we have never really had any reason to give her bottles of pumped milk. I did pump a few times with a hand pump just to get the hang of it if ever needed early on, and I think there were maybe 2 or 3 occasions when she had a bottle so I could have a few drinks or do an airport run while Daddy stayed home with her, but it never went very well. She has always been a boob girl and really, that was just fine because the boobs were always there for her.
I remember when Lids latched on that first day in hospital. I remember she latched on well but didn’t stay latched for long and I worried that she wouldn’t latch on more… but by day two, she was already nusring like a pro and by the time my milk came in on day 3, she was guzzling milk like it was her job. Our tiny 5lb 15oz girl was rapidly gaining weight in those first several months through mama’s milk and nothing more. I was proud. Proud of her and proud of my body. I was producing milk by the bucket load, leaking day and night, but Lids didn’t mind and therefore, nor did I.
At around 6 months Lids started on solids but wasn’t overly keen (and still isn’t) so mama’s milk was still her favourite source of energy and she was still nursing every 2 – 3 hours during the day until about 9 months (she night weaned very early.. other than the occasional 5:30am feed which she recently dropped completely). Around 9 months, I realized I was offering her milk more than she even really wanted (although this girl never says no to mama’s milk) so I stopped offering and let her create her own schedule which brought her down from 6-7 to 4-5 nursings a day which continued until less than a week ago.
Last Friday when it was time for Lids’ afternoon nursing, I filled up her new sippy cup (I thought maybe having a new ‘milk’ sippy cup instead of her water or smoothie sippy cup would help), brought her into her room in our usual nursing chair (I have heard to try locations / positions that do NOT remind baby of nursing but I just didn’t feel this was best for us and I think I was right). We snuggled into the chair together as we have everyday for the past 13 months. She looked up at me, signed ‘milk’ and quickly nuzzled her face into my chest, but instead of lifting my top, I said and signed ‘milk’ back to her and offered her the cup and…. she took it…. like she had been doing it all her life! Cue tears. I thought I was going to have to struggle to get her to drink the milk and quite honestly I thought I would end up nursing her that afternoon.. but no, she took 8 oz of whole milk, snuggled in my arms, then went about her daily schedule exactly as she does every other day.
I had spent so much time worrying about how Lids would take the change that I never even thought it could go this smoothly… and I never thought how I would feel if it did. Part of me of course is over the moon that I didn’t have to see her upset and that she is just as happy to have milk from her sippy cup… but then another part of me feels heartbroken that… she wasn’t upset and that she is just as happy to have milk from her sippy cup.
Of course, we still have 3 nursings to go and I am sure the final 2 won’t be nearly as easy, but then again maybe they will. I have to say, I don’t think I am quite ready to find out.
Tonight I snuggled my sweet girl extra tight as I nursed her before bed and thought about this amazing journey we’ve been through together. Hundreds and hundreds of nursing sessions… in bed, on the couch, in restaurants, backs of cars, airplanes, bathrooms, in fields, on the beach, while walking, while working, while reading, while eating, while drinking a glass of wine (judge me), while Skyping, while half asleep, while wide awake, covered, uncovered… but most of them, in our favourite red chair in the corner of her little room, snuggled in each others arms. Honestly, I am not ready to be completely done with this amazing journey and I truly hope it won’t be the end just yet, but when the time does come, I will be happy knowing that she is happy. And even if it hurt a bit to look down at Lids enjoying her sippy cup of milk, it made me realize that only one tiny part of our amazing relationship and journey together is ending. She was still there in my arms, she was still my girl and I was still her mum. She still needed me and she always will… just not in the same way… and that is okay.