Two weeks ago Adeline and I had a busy morning. We had music class and then some errands to run and we didn’t have time to go home in between for her morning nursing. So I brought along some of her almond milk and hoped for the best.
Adeline has never taken a bottle. When she was a few weeks old we introduced it and it seemed to go well. We gave her maybe three bottles total. Then we were packing, moving, settling in: things were hectic to say the least. Pumping was beyond me. By the time I had the energy to try again she absolutely refused to take the bottle. So I have nursed her. Every time she needed milk for the last year I have nursed her. I have been inextricably tied to her. Sometimes I’ve hated it, but other times it’s been wonderful.
When she was about a year old I started giving her almond milk. Never at a time when we would normally nurse, just other times when she might be a little thirsty. After a few tries she really liked it. So I told myself I had found the substitute: when we were ready to wean she would switch to almond milk. (She drinks it out of a water bottle with a straw or out of a cup.)
So two weeks ago, on our busy morning, I brought some almond milk along and she drank it. When we got home I was ready to nurse her, but she wasn’t interested. She wanted to say hi to the doggies and pull books off the bookshelf and terrorize the cats. So I stood back and watched her and felt my breasts grow full. She had never skipped a nursing like that before.
The next morning she probably would have taken it, but I wanted to see if we could skip it again. I gave her the almond milk and some extra snacks and she was a little crabby at first, but she moved on remarkably quickly. Two weeks later she hasn’t looked back. We’re still nursing three times a day, but I feel like the weaning process has begun.
And I feel incredibly ambivalent about it. When I got pregnant I knew that I would breastfeed. I knew it was the best thing for baby and I knew it was what I wanted. But I never wanted to be nursing when she was well into toddlerhood. I told myself that I would nurse one year. But as one year approached I didn’t feel ready to stop. It’s such a lovely time for us: we sit together, for once Adeline sits still and I’m not trying to do a hundred other things, and we just are. Together. And I know that the health benefits continue as long as I’m still making milk. (Which I am, for now at least.)
And a part of me doesn’t want to stop because I’m still clinging onto her babyhood: as long as she’s nursing she’s still mine. We’re still connected and I can take care of her better than anyone else. But once we stop, we won’t have that special bond anymore. Anyone can fill up a bottle with almond milk. Realistically, I know that I will still be mama and nothing beats that. But emotionally I’m heartbroken to let go of this special time.
So we’ll stick with three nursings a day for awhile. And when we’re ready we’ll drop another one. We’ll nurse in the morning and at bedtime and then slowly we’ll drop those, as well. I hope that when the time comes I won’t feel as sad about it. But I think it will be sad no matter what. My baby is growing up.