Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Closing Time

Well if you've been following my blog for awhile, you know that in Ollie's newborn days - and even beyond - I talked about breastfeeding a lot.  And I'm going to do it one more time - for the last time. Yes, the last time.  Because we're done.  We've actually been done for a couple of weeks now.  It's been bittersweet, but it was time.

I can't help but think of the Semisonic song, Closing Time, a little bit.  "Closing Time, turn off all the lights over every boy and every girl.  Closing Time, one last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer."  I am the one who basically decided to cut this last tie.  I am the one who said last call for milk. I would have kept going longer, but I think Ollie was more than ready and honestly, I was tired.  We were still nursing three times a day in January.  We cut that back to twice a day in February and then only once a day in the beginning of March, at bedtime.  And I could tell that while part of him still wanted it a little bit, he didn't really truly seem to need it that badly.  So after we had him stay the night with my in-laws (where he actually slept through the night for the first time, which was a major catalyst in this decision) I decided we'd try giving up that last feed.  And he did great.  It was unceremonious (well it was for Ollie.  More on how it was for me in a bit).  We just gave him a bottle one night at bedtime instead of breast.  That was it.

It's funny.  I wouldn't say I had to be drug kicking and screaming into breastfeeding, but it wasn't something I was super excited about.  I agreed to do it because I knew it would save us money and would be convenient.  I also knew it would be good for him.  I kept saying my loose goal was to get to six months and that if we could go an entire year it would be fantastic.  This was all before he was born.  And then he was born and he took to it so, so well.  And I fell in love.  I never thought I would love breastfeeding so much.  But it just came so naturally to us.  And yes it did save us money and it was super easy because I always had food at the ready for him and yes it did help me lose weight. But it was so much more than that.  It was a special relationship that only I could have with him.  

I originally thought we'd wean around his first birthday even though he wasn't really showing signs of being ready.  He was doing great with solid foods already at that point, but I just kind of figured, I can't nurse this kid forever so we'll try to go with a gentle weaning process.  And then two things happened.  First he was diagnosed with a mild cow's milk allergy and then both he and I suffered a bout of Norovirus.  While he was sick, breastmilk was the only thing he could tolerate.  But the problem with me having also been taken down by that bug was that there was a 24 hour period where I could not nurse him at all, I couldn't even get out of bed.  And then I didn't eat much for close to 48 hours.  My milk actually started drying up.  And I panicked.  Not only was it the only thing he could handle while sick, this was not the way I wanted our nursing relationship to end.  Thankfully because he really only wanted to nurse at that time he helped me re-lactate pretty quickly.  That was back in December.  

We just decided to slowly start the weaning process again after we were all healthy and back to normal.  He loves his almond milk that we chose as a cow's milk alternative, so that was no problem. He has a healthy appetite and eats pretty much all food you put in front of him.  So really at this point the nursing was more of a connection to me.  It was a very hard decision and Nate and I talked a lot about it.  First I stopped pumping (hallelujah, that was ONLY part of breastfeeding I didn't enjoy) and then as I said earlier, we slowly started dropping one session every so many weeks.  Soon we were down to only doing it at night and for awhile he seemed to still really enjoy and want it.  Then one night he was super squirmy and not really wanting to latch for long and I realized he was also maybe saying it was time for last call.  He was telling me "Closing Time, you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."  And so I put him to bed and sat down with Nate to watch TV and was pretty quiet for most of the evening. He always knows when something is wrong so he finally asked what was up and I pretty much had a complete emotional breakdown and explained that I thought it was time to be done.  Truth be told, while I didn't want to be done at the same time, I WAS done.  My body was tired.  I was tired.  I wanted my body to be my own again.  And of course, you feel mom guilt over that.  Nate and I talked and he let me cry and he told me what a wonderful job I had done all this time and that I shouldn't feel bad.  If it's time, it's time.  The next night we just did a bottle at bedtime and as I said above, it was pretty uneventful, it's like it was just the way it had always been.  He didn't cry, he didn't seem to miss it. 

I made my peace with it after that night.  I had my one emotional outburst and I was pretty much ok after that and ready to move on.  I was willing to (mantra and word of the year alert) let it go and embrace this next part of the parenting journey.  That's not to say I won't miss it at times or be sad about it, especially knowing I'll not likely have this experience again (if you're new here, we've made a pretty solid decision to be one and done having kids and I recently had an IUD inserted - sorry if that's TMI).  But I am also pretty happy with where we are now.  This kid is learning new things every day and is just such a joy that I don't find myself dwelling in the past too much at all.  And even the song Closing Time has an uplifting ending.  "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."  Recently Ollie has learned to say I love you.  When I leave his room at night I hear this sweet little voice say "I ove oo."  My heart soars.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

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