Monday, August 11, 2008

Night Night Nipsy
February 21, 2007 - August 11, 2008

Last night was the last time I breastfed Eliot.

The first time I nursed him was 27 minutes after he was born. He was frank breech and had almost no amniotic fluid, so an emergency c-section was performed. Both our OB and our doula knew how important breastfeeding was to me, and did everything to get him into my (still somewhat numb) arms in record time. He latched immediately and after a couple of weeks of toe-curling pain, (I could have sworn he had tiny razor-sharp shark teeth) we were well on our way to a comfortable, happy nursing relationship.

My expectation for breastfeeding was that after a year, Eliot would get the memo that he didn't need to nurse anymore, de-latch, and go about his merry life. I distinctly remember that my reaction to seeing one of the leaders of my lactation support group nursing her 18 month old was, "NO FREAKING WAY am I going to nurse a one and a half year old". That was when Eliot was two or three months old. How little we know about reality as new mothers.

And here we are - 10 days short of Eliot's 18 month birthday. So I guess I technically achieved my declaration of so many months ago. We have been gradually eliminating sessions and 2 weeks ago, we were down to the last one, the bedtime nurse, the most cherished by both of us. This was our last contact before the long night apart, and I was usually not in a hurry to put him in his crib. This time was for quietly considering the day's events, planning for tomorrow, all while Eliot was curled up in a sweet little ball, drowsily nursing.

But tonight was different. All other bedtime rituals were observed: bath, NakedTime (trademark pending), diaper, pj's, and books. I tried to prepare Eliot all day, telling him "Nipsy is moving far away, and we won't see her again, but Mommy and Daddy are here. It's okay to be sad." Once when I told him this, a very concerned look transformed his face, and I knew that he understood, which was great for my cause, but tragically heartbreaking as well.

He stalled a little more than usual, and Justin and I decided that we should put him in his crib together. He seemed fine until we left the room, and then crying. We returned together and comforted him. Crying again. And then I went in by myself. He was crying, not that desperate GET ME OUT OF BED! cry, but a cry of grief. He called for Justin, and he came in and we again comforted him and left the room.

And then silence.

I should have been relieved, right? But I was a little sad. Kind of like how you hope the boyfriend that you dumped will never find someone else. And when he does, even though you didn't want to be with him anymore, you're sort of appalled. Sort of like that. Except way worse.

I struggled with when to stop nursing Eliot. And why to stop. And then I finally realized, I cannot worry about what other people think - "You're STILL nursing?" or "You're weaning? ALREADY?" This is such an intimate relationship, it is up to the parties involved, and some may let the child take the lead while others take the lead themselves. And though I was definitely the one to lead, Eliot followed without too much protest. I can only hope that he did so well because he was so prepared for the inevitable, and ready for it too.


Cara said...

I laughed! I cried!

This is such a bittersweet milestone. So I guess "congrats" and "i'm so sorry" are in order. :)

Sylvia's Mom (my entire identity) said...

Yea! Welcome your boobs back with a drunken night of debauchery.

Does that sound strange? Are you surprised?

emily said...

We are going to drink our faces off when you get here. Oh, and how about that trip to NYC sans children?

Sara said...

Aw, sad - Ava is already down to really only nursing when she wakes up, and I definitely have mixed feelings. Please drink 12 shots of something gross for me. And some extra coffee with like quadruple shots of espresso. And take some cold medicine while you're at it.