Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weaning is not the end of the world: Part II

I was going to title this post "weaning IS the end of the world," just to be funny, but earnestness strikes again and I find I can't even joke about it, even when it's clearly a joke. I'm not really in that much of a joking mood, what with the sudden precipitous drop in oxytocin.  Research has shown that petting a dog also releases oxytocin in humans, so I've been hanging out with Hank a little more than usual (Hank: "I'm not complaining, but also, what gives?")  I also find that I enjoy spending a little quality time with my harmonica after dinner.  I'm not good enough to actually play the blues ... yet.  But I can see the instrument's appeal as a form of catharsis.

After months of wondering when and how weaning was going to happen without the motivation of being pregnant (motivation we are not even considering, even though Walter has made it clear that he needs another baby now that Sally's all grown up,) after some false starts and half-hearted attempts to cut back and Dr. L and my mom conspiring with each other to make the exact same argument for weaning (more on that, later,) after all that, it feels like we just kind of fell into the weaning thing this week.  On Wednesday, I got home late from preaching out at a country church, so Sean got Sally to bed. It went well, so we've kept going with Sean putting Sally to bed at night and me taking over with Walter. Sally and I nursed once in the morning until Saturday, when I had to get up and leave for a meeting before she woke up.  Today we jumped right into breakfast, so no nursing at all today, either. 

This is really happening.

And again, it's not the end of the world. But it hurts, and I'm sad.  Not for-a-reason-sad, really.  Just sad. *harmonica solo.*

So I went to Sally's 18 month well-child visit a couple weeks ago and Dr. L told me I had to wean her.  She was careening madly all over the exam room saying "other side," which is how she asks to nurse, and Dr. L said "When they're old enough to ask for it by name, it's time to stop."  And I was like, "When did you talk to my mom, and how much did she pay you?"

Mom has never pressured me to wean Sally at all, actually, but she has shared in the past that my ability to ask for "boppy" was a factor in her decision to wean me.  And with Sally I've rebelled against that reasoning because really, why should the ability to talk be the determining factor?  Just because she's super verbal, Sally doesn't get to nurse as long as a toddler the same age who doesn't talk? That doesn't seem right. Breastfeeding up to age two is not unusual. I produce lots of milk.  Why not keep nursing her? She likes it.  I like it. What does talking have to do with it?

Then this week Sally started busting out three, even four word sentences left and right like it was no big deal.  "Baba, where are you?" (in perfect sing-song cadence.) "Bye bye Mama." "All done, mini wheats."  "I want it." And, of course, "More other side."

I still think there's more to it than her ability to talk. But the talking is indicative of other changes, other signs that Sally really is ready to move into a different stage.  That's what my mom saw in me when she weaned me, and that's what Dr. L saw in Sally. I can see it now, better than I could before we started weaning her.  Since we weaned her, she is sleeping better and going to sleep with less help.  She is as affectionate as ever with me, but also enjoying having more time with Sean. She hasn't asked for "other side" since the last time I nursed her Friday morning (and oh, I am so glad, and so sad about that.)  She was ready.

The last time we nursed was Friday morning, up in my bed, while Walter watched Curious George.  Sally was very interested in watching the show, too, in a different way than before, and I recognized that as another sign that nursing wasn't her top priority anymore.  But she settled in to nurse very happily, and smiled when I patted her bottom as I held her.  When we were done she immediately asked for "more other side" and I said, "Silly goose, you've had both sides." She smiled and snuggled with me, happy to watch some George before getting ready for day care. She likes routine, like all of us do.  As long as her new routine includes snuggle time with Mama, she's happy.

Sally has adapted to this change with no signs of stress at all, and that helps me feel better in the midst of my more stressful adaptation.  If I'd actually planned this weaning I probably wouldn't have chosen my busiest time of year.  On the upside, if I keep to the schedule I was on with Walter, the depression should lift right in time for Easter, which seems appropriate.  In the meantime, Sean binds me up at night. I think about pumping to relieve some pressure, but usually just opt for a shower, since I worry that pumping will keep my supply going.  We had cabbage for dinner tonight so I got to wear some leaves in my bra this afternoon (don't know that it helped, but we saved some uncooked leaves just in case.)  The fact that I'm writing this indicates to me that I'm doing better than I was when we weaned Walter. That wasn't the end of the world, either, but I waited until the pain subsided and the clouds lifted, just to be sure (and because I was too incapacitated to write, really.)  The beauty of the second child is that you know, you really know, that whatever difficult stage you're going through, it's not going to last forever.

This, too, shall pass. And there is so much more sweetness, snuggling and phenomenal Sally-ness yet to come.

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