End of an Era
It's the end of an era. As of Friday, after over three combined years of nursing babies that time in my life is officially behind me. We successfully and painlessly weaned Portia over the weekend right as she turned 17 months. Unlike with Hermione, the decision to wean was mine this time. Something in my gut told me I was done and I had to respect that.
I let Hermione wean herself when she was ready and it ended up being an extremely physically and emotionally traumatic experience for me. Looking back I probably was suffering from a bit of late onset post partum depression caused by the sudden hormone drop. Coupled with that was extremely painful engorgement from her weaning herself cold turkey. I did not want to endure that experience again.
When Hermione weaned I was worried our bond wouldn't be as close and I wouldn't have any way to comfort her without nursing. With a few more years of mothering under my belt I now know that no longer nursing my baby doesn't make me any less of a source of comfort for her.
Once we got back from the summer and settled home and into our routine a little voice in the back of my head kept hinting it might be time to wean Portia. She was down to nursing only once a day but it still kept me on a tight leash. I had to be home every night when she got out of the bath to nurse her before bed. Doug and I could never go out to an early dinner, or even consider going away for a night. Selfishly, I wanted the flexibility to not be home every night at bedtime. I want to consider traveling again with my husband. Even just for a night or two. Also nursing her for 15 minutes each night took away from time I could be reading or playing with the girls together before bed.
I would be lying if I said vanity didn't also play a role in my decision. As I did after Hermione was born I am currently hanging on to some extra "milk weight" that I am no sad to say goodbye to. I workout harder than most people, eat extremely clean, and yet I am the type of person who will never lose those last 10 pounds of baby weight while nursing. I'm ready to say goodbye to them and be happier with what I see in the mirror. Since we are being totally candid I am also considering having some cosmetic surgery done to lift and reshape my breasts. Two pregnancies and three years of nursing have left them saggy and deflated.
Vanity, wishes for a little more schedule flexibility and freedom aside I would not trade my time nursing Portia for anything. I loved nothing more than snuggling up with her while she buried her little face into me. She had a habit of twirling her hair while she drank her milk that made my heart melt. Being a second child who sometimes gets a little less of my time I loved that each day we had time set aside for just us. Portia was born hungry and knowing exactly how to get the milk she needed. We never had any nursing issues the whole 17 months. It came beautifully and naturally for us. Nursing her was sweet, snuggly and wonderful. And it was time to move on.
Having never weaned a baby before I didn't know what to expect. I tried to do it myself a few nights by offering her a snack or a straw bottle of cashew milk at bedtime but no luck. She would scream and flail and freak out until I agreed to nurse her. In order for it to work I realized I couldn't be home at bedtime.
We picked a weekend when Doug could put her to bed three nights in a row to make sure the habit would be broken. After the girls had dinner I went downstairs and sat in our lobby and read my book. The first night I was worried that I had made a mistake. I pictured Portia screaming and crying for me the entire time. In reality she was fine. More than fine. She was delighted Daddy was giving her a bath and putting her to bed. It couldn't have gone better. The next two nights were similarly smooth sailing. Come Monday, when it was time for me to do bedtime again it went off without a hitch. Instead of nursing after the bath we cuddled in my bed and read a few board books while Hermione luxuriated in the tub (Hermione takes long baths). It was official. She had weaned.
Now that it has been almost a week since I last nursed Portia I have mixed emotions about it. I feel a little guilty for making the decision for her. Maybe she wanted to nurse until she was two or older? I'll never know. I am also a little sad. I don't think it's just my hormones dropping. Knowing Portia is my last baby this is the end of an era. I will never nurse a baby again. That is a lot to take in. More than I expected.
I will forever be grateful for the 17 months I spent nursing my Porchie. I know it bonded us in ways I am only beginning to understand. I also know I helped set her up for a healthy childhood by giving her so much breast milk. I am proud of myself and her for the commitment we made to each other. Exclusive breast feeding is not easy. It takes a lot of time and sacrifice and we did it for a very long time.
Now that this phase is behind us I am looking forward to spending different kinds of quality, intimate time with Porchie. Even this afternoon, after her nap she and I snuggled in her rocking chair and read book after book after book. Those cuddles and quiet moments are just as special as nursing was and I know there are many, many more of them ahead of us