Monday, September 17, 2007

Thoughts on weaning

It's been a week now, so I think it's officially official: Miriam Damascus is weaned.

Upon reading that sentence, most of you probably had some variation or degree of the reaction, "Ew." Perhaps a small portion of you think that's it's...well, neat.

You might not believe me when I tell you this, but I never intended to nurse my child for two full years. In fact, I used to be one of you, one of those people who thought any nursing that occurred when the child could walk around and say a few words was really, really weird. But sometime during the last two years, I changed my mind.

Miriam loved nursing. She never took a bottle. Not once. Ever. At around 12 months, she figured out a sippy cup well enough to start drinking whole milk. But the nursing continued because she loved it, and I was content. I knew that if she ever started getting grabby or obvious about it, I'd wean her in a moment. But she never did anything embarrassing in public.

While we were in Jordan, I could tell that breastfeeding's comforting hold on Miriam was losing its grip. So I decided to wean her when we got back to America. I nursed her for the last time on her birthday, put her down for a nap, shed a few tears to mourn the passing of an era, and then practically jumped for joy at having my body back.

Our nursing experience encompassed two years, three continents (two of them twice over), a nursing strike, more bouts of mastitis than I care to remember, a close call with losing my milk when we were all terribly ill, and some very strange nursing locations. Off the top of my head, I can remember nursing Miriam in disgusting pit-toilet public bathrooms in the Middle East, on public buses amid crowds of Arab male passengers (very, very well covered, I assure you, though it took a lot of creative blanket engineering), inside a worker's shed at the baptismal site on the Jordan River (guarded by Jeremy, thank goodness, because they didn't know I was in there and one of them tried to get in), and in various other "interesting" locations and situations.

Every once in a while, Miriam pipes up and tells me that nursing is for babies, and that she's a big girl now, and doesn't need nursing (or "nurses," as she calls it). She also talks about baby cows being nursed by mama cows, which probably stems from the cows living on the farm across the street and the very visible udders on some of them.

Even though I did enjoy extended nursing, I'm happy to be myself again. Now I can take all those medications that I couldn't before because of the risk of transfer through breastmilk. Bring on the Vicodin!

Just kidding. Kind of. I'm getting my tonsils removed next month, so having to take Vicodin is a very real possibility.


Nancy said...

Ha, ha! I'm one of the people who thinks it's neat!

My mom nursed my sister to 25 months, and she worked. While my sister's babysitter nursed her baby, my sister would ask when it was going to be her turn. :)The answer, of course, was, "You have to wait for your mommy..."

Anyway, I just think it's good for babies and I actually kind of enjoy (those first few weeks were dreadful for me).

Liz Johnson said...

PROPS! You are my inspiration for next time. Although I agree... after I weaned Connor, I did a little leap for joy at having my body back. Yaaaaaay. :)

Mikael said...

I went 10 months with Makenzie. She was NOT a comfort Nurser. 10 months was actually too long with her. She used to grab my breast and squeeze with her tiny hands, and also bite me, oh, and push me away in a really RUDE and mean way! Little rascal.
As far as having my body back after that, I missed being able to eat whatever I wanted and still lose weight while nursing, I was tiny when I was nursing! Next time I will try to go longer. And congrats!!

Crissy Bear said...

Here Here Mikael! I know where you are coming from. Don't get me wrong I love both of my children equally but while my son was nice and docile my daughter is a barbarian! I feel abused almost everytime I nurse her. How can someone so cute and tiny be so hard to handle. All I have to say is OUCH!!!

Nancy said...

Sometimes when I nurse Rachel in bed she does this double leg kick thing. She totally did that in the womb...and it hurts just as much on the outside as it did inside. It's not so bad when her legs aren't directed at my abdomen.


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