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Personal Thoughts on Weaning

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Rayna is my last baby. Everything she learns is the last “first” I’ll get. Her first steps, her first word, her first wave bye-bye are the last firsts our family will get to experience, making them absolutely delightful and incredibly bittersweet at the same time. It’s a weird feeling knowing the next baby we’ll have in our family will be our grandchildren, so many years from now. I try not to think about that.

This month, Rayna completely weaned. We have only been doing nighttime feedings since she turned one because I wasn’t ready to let go completely, but these past few weeks, Rayna was ready to let me go completely. The last few times I nursed her were a little more forced than I would’ve liked, so it was time. She doesn’t reach for a drink or eagerly cuddle up anymore. My good ole pump that saw me through two kids is long gone. I’ve gone through the last of our storage bags. I feel a little like I’m deserted on the side of the road…

At the same time, I am very proud that we made it this long, that we had a relatively successful journey that many women aren’t able to or don’t get to experience. But this letting go is hard…

See, nursing is a war. It takes profound persistence and pain, extensive google searches and middle-of-the night questions in mommy nursing groups. It takes complete unwavering dedication from just one partner. It takes excruciating pain going into it for the first couple weeks. It takes tons of reading and preparation and research. It takes working around pumping schedules at work and disappointment when someone steals your time slot in the pumping room. It takes memorizing dozens of rules about the where’s, when’s and how long’s of milk storage. It takes constant worry about how much baby is getting, if we have enough stored, if she’s drinking enough while I’m gone, if she’ll even take bottles, and on and on. It takes being the only one getting up in the night for feedings. It takes puddled shirts and let-downs in the middle of Walmart. It takes shopping for a new upper body wardrobe to suit the endowment. It takes nights of getting soaked and more pain. It takes not going away from home for more than two hours at a time for awhile. Rayna and I, we fought like bandits with bloody knuckles to get to this point, so it makes my heart bleed again to have to let it go.

Nursing offers the opportunity to stare into that beautiful face every few hours, every single day. It offers healing touch and the beautiful companionship of unconditional love. It offers nurturing and relationship building. It creates indestructible bonds of trust. It fine tunes a mother’s instinct and intuition. If offers wisdom about and complete immersion in the life of another person. It gives you those sweet moments of sleeping babies in your arms. Not to mention reveling in all the wonderful benefits of that milky medicine. (I was even able to contribute 278 ounces to the nourishment of another baby when my freezer got too full!)

If you study the science of breast milk, it truly is one of life’s miracles. The content of milk alone is enough evidence for me of God’s existence. It changes as baby’s needs change. It pumps out antibodies when it senses baby getting sick. It produces more fat when baby needs to grow. It just automatically produces exactly what baby needs with complete and utter perfection. And I won’t get to experience or appreciate this again.

This week, right now even, there have been tears. There have been heavy-laden sighs. There has been one incremental move away from my daughter’s dependency on me. It’s been much harder than it was with my son since I know this time I won’t get to do this again. I wasn’t ready for this…

The phrase “they get big so fast” is so overused and yet no one can stop saying it or ever will because of the heavy truth and continual astonishment behind it. They really do grow so fast…

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