Letting It Go

It’s now been almost two weeks since Peeper last nursed, so I’m pretty sure she’s serious about this. She’s still not quite admitting that she’s “all done with goody,” and she’s still saying things like, “I don’t know when I’ll be done being characters.” (Because she claims that’s why she isn’t nursing – but when “Peeper” is back, she might.) but when I’ve asked (just checking, when we’re discussing it – or flat out suggested it a couple of times, early on, when she was in a meltdown) she’s turned me down.

I don’t know if I can totally claim that she’s “weaned without tears,” because last night in bed, we were talking about it a bit, after reading and before singing. The subject of my supply came up, and I said, “My body knows you don’t need goody, so it’s not making much milk now.” She finally put two and two together, and said, her little eyes welling up and her little voice cracking, “And then, someday, there’ll be no milk?!

Fraid so, kiddo.

She then started talking about “I wish I could eat other things besides goody milk after I brush my teeth,” so I asked if she was hungry, and she was, so we got up and had a bedtime snack. (And then brushed again.)

Oddly enough, I’d just been reading something that mentioned bedtime snacks, and I was thinking that we don’t do that because we go dinner-tidy(hahaha)-bath-jammies-teeth-bed and there’s not time to get hungry again, but then I realized that up until a few days ago, she was having a bedtime snack – she was just having it in bed, as she fell asleep.

Oh, I guess I need to be more vigilant about making sure she gets breakfast now, too, huh?

So, anyway, we discussed the possibility of bathing a bit earlier so we can work a bedtime snack into our routine. She dug that idea, and those little almost-tears dried right up. Especially when I pulled out some vanilla wafers. (Or “wifers,” as she was calling them the other day. I can’t remember what she called them before that, and it’s going to bug me, because it was really cute.)

Anyway, point being – I’ve pretty much accepted that she’s serious about weaning, and I’m mostly okay with that, most of the time.

One thing that was weird for a while was that when she first skipped a couple of nights, Shrike reminded me of the “gift certificate” (no money spent yet, just a promise) she gave me last Christmas, for a piece of breastmilk jewelry of my choice, and asked how long I would have milk available to express for it.

Let me back up a moment to say that I can’t begin to express how much that gift meant to me. I’m sure I’d shown them to her before, and maybe said that I thought they were cool, or it would be neat to have one, but I know I’d not talked about them in ages, and I don’t think I’d ever said, “Hey, can I get one of these?” It was one of the most thoughtful gifts that she’s ever given me, and possibly the only one that’s made me cry when I “opened” (read) it.

So, I started looking at the website, trying to decide what I might want, and hand expressed to see how much milk I could get. (I did not get out the pump, because ouch, and also because back when I was pumping for BabyJ I discovered that I actually did better just hand expressing.)

Yeah, I actually expressed several times, some after a warm shower, some while watching Baby Peeper videos, and by Friday, I had about a half a teaspoon collected. The minimum amount they need is two teaspoons, and they prefer an ounce. I was trying to think of other ways to improve my let down (borrow Baby N for snuggles was at the top of my list) and even considered taking A (his mama) up on her offer of lactation cookies, and I’ve been eyeing the fenugreek that’s hiding behind my vitamins.

Then I realized that’s just dumb. I spent Peeper’s first six weeks hooked up to that fucking pump and fretting about my supply. I ain’t going out that way, too. Peeper’s side of the nursing experience has (apparently) come to a gentle, natural and pain-free end, and I need to let mine do the same.

The first few times that I expressed, I probably would have done it for comfort anyway, but since then, there’s really been no need to. I think that speaks to how little she must have actually been getting, even though she was nursing every evening and morning, often in the night, and sometimes in the day.

I realized that, as hard as it is to think of being done with this “season” of my life, and how weird it will be to not be lactating, I actually like the fact that my body seems to be mostly okay with – and not too surprised by – Peeper not nursing. I do feel that let-down tingle more than usual, and it’s a little sad and a bit physically uncomfortable/annoying/frustrating because I know she’s not going to do anything about it, but I’m certainly not engorged or hurting.

As difficult and unnatural and painful – both physically and emotionally – as the beginning of our nursing relationship was, it’s so nice that it’s ending this way, the way that it should.

This is what I’ve been working toward, all along. At one time, it was a huge accomplishment for her just to latch, but I’ve never lost sight of my ultimate goal, which was to breastfeed exclusively for at least six months, then continue as long as she wanted, and allow her to wean in her own time, at her own pace, and in her own way.

Many is the time that I thought she would never wean - as recently as that last time before her first no-nursing bedtime – but she has, and it’s happened in exactly the way I had hoped.

(Except that I never expected it to be so sudden. That still just blows my mind.)

So, yes, I’m definitely sad about it, sad that it’s actually here, and it’s actually happened, and that this huge part of my life – something I’d looked forward to since as long as I can remember – is over. Yeah, that’s a hard one. But I’m also very pleased and – I don’t know even how to say it. At peace? – with how it has ended.

So, all that is to say that I realized that it’s ridiculous to be worrying about supply now, and squeezing my boobs til my hands cramp, and trying to get a drop here and a drop there. So I’m not going to.

Am I a little bummed about not getting the jewelry? Yes, but the more I think about it, the more okay I am with it.

For one thing, I am not a necklace kind of gal, unless it’s something that I can put on and then just keep on 24/7, like the fertility goddess I wore before and throughout my pregnancy. They don’t recommend getting these wet, so that’s out. I figured that, realistically, it would end up sitting in a jewelry box, being a lovely keepsake, but getting no actually use, until Peeper hypothetically had a child of her own, and I gave it to her. (That was my dorky plan.)

That’s kind of a lot of money to pay for something that I’ll put in a box, and a lot of effort to go to for it, at this point. And, I also asked myself what would be different if I had it or didn’t have it, and I realized that the answer is “nothing.”

 

I still think it’s super cool, and if I had the milk to use for it, and if they could make me something I’d really wear, then I would probably do it, but I realized that I don’t need it.

I don’t need something in a box to remember nursing Peeper. And Peeper is five years old, for God’s sake, she doesn’t need it to remember nursing, either.

It was actually quite a relief to decide that. A relief to stop thinking about it and just let my body accept that Peeper is done, and go about its business of being done as well.

Emotionally, it’s not so easy to just “be done,” of course, and I’ve really felt like I need to “do something” to mark the occasion – to celebrate the whole nursing relationship, to mourn its end, to just acknowledge the milestone and the huge shift that’s happened, that’s still happening – for me, for Peeper, for me-and-Peeper, and for our whole family.

Peeper doesn’t seem too into the idea of a weaning party. Partly, I’m sure, because she’s still not quite ready to declare herself actually weaned, but also, I guess it’s not really something that she’s done consciously, it’s just sort of happened, so it’s not something she feels the need to make a big deal about.

(Although, if I really wanted to have one, I’m sure that a reminder that there would be gifts, and the suggestion that Mrs A could make Frozen cupcakes would probably seal the deal.)

Before it was clear that she wasn’t into the party idea, I did some googling about weaning parties, ceremonies and the such. One thing I read really spoke to me – oddly enough, from reading about a Jewish weaning ceremony. Many Jews give tzadakah, or charitable donations, when celebrating milestones in life, and it is an  Eastern European tradition to give an amount equal to the weaning child’s weight.

It didn’t take me long to decide where my donation will go – La Leche League, of course.

I also wanted to give Peeper the opportunity to mark the occasion as well, so Shrike and I decided that it would be appropriate to give her five dollars – her age – to donate to a cause of her choice. When I told her about it last night during our bedtime snack, and asked if she’d like to do that, at first she didn’t really seem to be paying much attention, but when I clarified that we would give her the five dollars, she didn’t have to actually use her own money, she immediately said, “The animal shelter, to help buy dog food or cat food or whatever the animals need.”

So, that’s the plan for now, and if I feel like I need to “do something” beyond that, I’ll come up with something.

And, every now and then, I’ll have a good cry.

Comments

  1. ladykay says

    I made it to “I realized that, as hard as it is to think of being done with this “season” of my life…” before I started to tear up. There was pretty continual blinking after that.

  2. says

    It’s hard when nursing ends. I nursed my second child for a year, the other two for a bit less. I really wanted to keep going but for some reason, I was very prone to mastitis and had to be on antibiotics three times for it. I weaned my daughter rather than have another painful infection. I’ve admired you and Peeper and your nursing relationship over the last five years and I was envious that you were able to keep going so long. It is kind of sad when that part of your mother-daughter relationship ends. But she is growing up, after all. And as you said, you kept going until she was ready to stop, and now she’s ready.

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