For all the things I've written about on the blog, one I've barely mentioned is nursing. I know breastfeeding is the popular term, but truly I prefer nursing. Breastfeeding sounds so, well, like we are talking about my boobs as opposed to feeding my babies. And I really don't want to talk about my boobs.
Anyway. I'm done nursing. Rather, Elliott is done nursing. I can't even tell you what day was his last day. Sometime mid-August. Much like Colter, there was no active weaning. For awhile, he was down to only morning and night feedings, then I was out late one night and he went to bed without nursing, and without a fuss. So I stopped feeding him at night. The morning feeding hung in there for a few more days, mostly because Elliott and Colter don't always get up at the same time and I could nurse Elliott and then we would all eat breakfast together. Then there were a few days in a row where they were up at the same time and we just came downstairs and ate breakfast straightaway. And he never missed a beat.
Both boys were completely weaned, with no fuss, right around ten or ten-and-a-half months. Sometime after Colter stopped nursing, a friend told me about an article she read that most kids self-wean when they begin to walk, part of an evolutionary thing because they are physically able to move away from their mothers on their own. I don't know the science behind that, but it fits with my boys; Colter was walking steadily by the time he weaned, Elliott began cruising furniture and taking little steps around the time he stopped nursing.
I also heard, sometime between Colter and Elliott, about the weaning method "don't offer, don't refuse." Basically, don't sit down and try to feed the baby, but if he's looking for it, don't push him away. I think I pushed nursing longer with Colter, but was more along these lines with Elliott. I just let it be on their own time, and wasn't worried about the calendar or how old they were.
I am glad that nursing was, overall, a pretty easy and natural experience for me both times around. There was a bit of a rough start with Colter, but both boys took to it well and I got comfortable with it. It was a huge help to have Keith be so supportive, and extended family and friends that accepted and accommodated us while each of the boys were nursing. Keith and I both felt that it would be the best thing for our boys and our family, and I'm glad to have done it for them. I am lucky in that I didn't have to pump very much or very often, and I give a lot of credit to moms who go back to work and stick with nursing and pumping. I'm not sure I would have been as committed if I had to hook myself up to a machine instead of my baby.
Just like nursing bras, nursing is not one-size-fits all, and I'm not a lactation specialist, so my experience is almost certainly going to differ from any other mom's. Here's the little bit I can offer though, just in case it might be useful to someone else. It helps to mentally commit to it beforehand. It takes a couple weeks for mom and baby to get really comfortable with it, so stick with it. (Someone told me three weeks is the magic number; that sounds about right.) A Boppy is really nice to have. I never got the hang of a nursing cover but I've seen other people use them and really like them. Sometimes it was tough to always be the one on-call for feedings, or to leave a gathering to sit and nurse. I found when the daytime feedings tapered off, I missed that break built into my day where all I had to do was sit and feed the baby. And maybe read a book while I did it. Lanolin or some other protective cream is your friend. Watch out when the teeth come in. Don't worry about all the hype that sometimes accompanies nursing; I know people that are comfortable nursing at a table at a restaurant, and I preferred to sit in the car, a dressing room, or on a quiet bench somewhere when we were out and about. Find your comfort zone, and let it be about you and your baby. It doesn't need to be a statement.
With all that said, I am fine with it being finished. I am glad to not have to worry about where and when to feed a baby, and what to wear to make it easier and avoid flashing anybody. (Anybody who knows me and has been flashed, I'm sorry. I really tried not to go all National Geographic on anybody.) I guess the research says nursing creates all kinds of bonding chemicals that are important early on, but I did not feel any need to extend that bond by nursing beyond infancy. Believe me, these kids are bonded. They won't leave me alone.
All in all, nursing being over feels rather anticlimactic. I am not sad it is over, nor am I ecstatic to be done. From the start, nursing my babies felt like the most natural and right thing for them, and for me, and it is only natural that it runs it's course.
I am going to miss that built-in calorie burner though. I will have to go a little easier on the nightly bowl of ice cream now.
And since a post wouldn't be complete without a picture, here's a little photo challenge for you. Can you guess whether or not I'm nursing Elliott here?
And the answer is: who cares? Look at the smile on Colter's face!