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Thoughts of a Mama Who’s Baby is Weaned

February 10, 2016

Dearest Caleb,

It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around it but, as of almost two weeks ago, you are officially weaned.  The feelings after weaning you have been intense!  I look at you and see that you’re such a big boy – drinking out of your sippy cup with ease – and I just have to spend a moment mourning the loss of my baby.  There are few things that are keeping you in the baby category these days and, for the most part, I view you as my little toddler.  I absolutely adore this stage you’re in but I think back to all the memories that we made together our 14 and a half months of nursing.

I have experienced all the feelings after weaning.  All the ups and downs.

I remember the first time I nursed you, not long after you were born.  I was so afraid of holding you wrong and had to be taught again and again how to keep you in a position where you could get milk.  We weren’t natural pros at the whole breastfeeding thing and I was scared that it just wouldn’t work out for us.  At your first doctors appointment, two weeks after you were born, we found out that you weren’t gaining the weight you needed.  I was so concerned and felt as though I wasn’t doing something right.  My nipples were blistered and sore and, although I wanted to nurse you, it hurt and I second guessed it time and again.

By one month, though, we had it figured out.  I wasn’t in pain anymore and you were getting chunky!  I took you into the doctor to make sure you were gaining weight and she laughed at how big you had gotten and said I absolutely didn’t need to worry about you getting the nutrition.  We were doing just fine.

Our nursing journey certainly had its emotional ups and downs.

You’re a stubborn little man and absolutely refused to take a bottle!  The screams that came out of your mouth if you daddy ever tried to give you one were glass shattering.  Most of the time I was fine with making sure I was around to nurse you every two-ish hours throughout the day but sometimes it just wore on me.  Since you had a hard time with life after about five pm I had to be home with you every evening – no ifs, ands, or buts.  The first time your daddy and I left you with a babysitter (after I fed you and put you to bed) I was so stressed out the whole time that you would wake up hungry and, sure enough, you were wide awake and mad when we got back.  My heart broke a little and I rarely left during a time you would need to eat.  It wasn’t easy to be at your beck and call all day every day and, at times, I felt as though I lost a piece of myself in your feeding schedule.

For as stressful and time consuming that nursing was it was a million times more beautiful and special.  The bond we formed while gazing into each others eyes is so special to me.  The slow mornings where we’d lay in bed together while you ate are imprinted in my memory.  The smiles you’d give me as you took a break from drinking brought joy to my heart.  I wouldn’t have traded those memories for anything.

To be completely honest, I didn’t think I was going to wean you so young.

I would have happily gone until 18 months or two years even but that’s not the way it worked out.  Around the time your daddy and I moved we realized that you loved taking medicine from little plungers.  We thought that maybe you’d be willing to take milk from a turkey baster and, sure enough, you did!  That freed me up so much in our new home to be able to be myself again and get out of the house without you while getting to know some new friends.

Even though a turkey baster worked it still wasn’t the best solution.  You kept refusing a bottle (and we didn’t really want to get you used to a bottle when you were nearing a year old) so we started trying various sippy cups.  You’d take a sip here and a sip there but didn’t focus on drinking from them because you knew you still were getting most of your feedings from me.

Around Christmas your daddy and I booked a trip to Mexico for a week in March.  We knew that it would be so much easier to leave you here than to bring you with us so we decided you’d stay with you grandparents for the week.  Since you were being left behind and wouldn’t be nursing for a week it just made sense that we finished nursing by the time your daddy and I left.  I struggled with that decision since I loved nursing you but, ultimately, I knew that it was the right choice for my body and knew that you’d be ready for it by then.

After the holiday rush we began a slow weaning process that was great for my body and easy for you to adapt to.  We gave up the two daytime feedings first.  Instead of nursing during the day you just got sippy cups of whole milk (and food, of course!).  You nursed first thing in the morning and before bed and, honestly, you didn’t seem to notice that you weren’t nursing anymore.  I didn’t struggle emotionally with cutting off those feeding since those weren’t the ones that we cuddled during.  You would just eat and get done quick so you could be off to play.

Gradually we dropped the night feeding.  Instead of me nursing you, singing you your song, and putting you to bed your daddy took over.  He tried to give you a sippy cup (which you only halfheartedly took since you thought I’d be nursing you), sang your song (kind of…), and laid you down.  You were not a happy camper the first night daddy did that.  You yelled for quite a while but finally realized you were more tired than angry and fell asleep.  The second night was nowhere near as bad.  You took the sippy cup of milk because you knew daddy was serious about it and you only fussed once you were laid down.  After that it’s been pretty smooth sailing.  I didn’t have too much of a problem emotionally with losing that feeding either.  While your daddy was in charge of bedtime I did miss rocking you in the dark while you sleepily ate but I knew that I’d get that again once you were used to the new way of doing things.

Finally we were down to just morning feedings.  The church was putting on a women’s retreat the last weekend in January so I knew that if I wanted to go I had to be done nursing you.  The week leading up to it you nursed two mornings but got a sippy cup the other mornings.  You were pretty much ready to be done but I was holding on to the final few special us moments.  As it does, Friday morning came and I knew it was going to be our last time sharing this special bond.  I extended the time as long as I could and held you close, soaking you in, trying to remember every detail.  A few tears trickled down my cheek as I realized that my little boy is growing up.

And you are growing up, dearest son!  You’re truly not my little baby anymore.

Our relationship has changed so much in your short 15 months and I know it will continue to grow and change throughout your life.  Even though one part of our relationship is gone forever we’ve already found new special moments in the past two weeks.  My heart smiles every time you bring your sippy cup over to me and grunt until I pull it and you onto my lap.  As you cuddle in, hand me your cup to feed you, and look into my eyes I know that our relationship is still there.  No matter how big you get you will always be my baby.  The way our relationship presents itself may change but our bond won’t.  I guess I’m ok with you growing up. 

Your Turn:
When did you wean your baby?
What milestones were difficult for you to accept with your little one?

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