Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A question of weaning

Will is almost 15 months old, and I am still breastfeeding. (Clearly, the term "mommy-blogger" is going to apply to me.)

When I was pregnant with Will, I decided that if at all possible, I would breastfeed. I also told my husband that I would try to stay with it for 6 months. Um, yeah.

My introduction to nursing was fairly typical, I believe. And by that I mean *excruciatingly painful* with each initial latch, gradually tapering off to a dull ache until she finished, leaving me with extreme tenderness (and trepidation) until the next feed. (Which I could not believe was to be three hours after the *beginning* of the previous feed!) Since I had been told the party line that nursing *properly* should not hurt, the first few days of my daughter's life were filled with repeated visits to the lactation consultant. She boosted my confidence (and was helpful without being judgmental when we had to supplement with formula) and soon I felt like I sort of knew what I was doing. I still had to curl my toes from the pain of Will's latch for the next couple of weeks, but eventually it got easier, and then easy.

Will's first birthday came and went, next week she will be 15 months old, and we are in the middle of trying to wean. There is a deadline looming: my husband and I are going to Vancouver for a wedding and leaving our daughter with my parents for six days.

I know this is an important step, and my parents are about the only people I believe can handle Will if she refuses to sleep for more than an hour at a time (they did raise 6 of their own kids, after all). And no matter what happens at Gramma's house, I know I will finally be getting the S.L.E.E.P. that has been elusive for so many months.

So even though I would probably have continued for a couple more months, I know this is the best time for the transition. Will is mainly nursing for comfort now, but that is making the process much harder than I imagined. When she really wants some milk she throws her head onto my chest, and although I can distract her (with watermelon or carrots!) she is just so happy when she gets to burrow into my chest, laughing.

I know that I will find other ways to comfort her. I know that I am already a source of delight for her in many other ways. Still, it is a connection I am finding difficult to let go. And when she asks, I find myself thinking, there is still a little bit of time, it's okay for today, and I say yes.

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