Friday, February 12, 2010

Bittersweet Goodbye

Dear little big Zoelle,

I'm writing this letter with tears streaming down my face. I don't want to write it. I knew eventually I would have to, but I never really thought the day would come. This is your weaning letter.

For 2 years 8 months and 8 days, you have nursed. In fact the very first time you ever missed a day nursing was when your baby sister was born and I was in the hopsital. You had just turned two the day before and it killed me leaving you knowing you would be wondering where your na-nas went. Since then, you have skipped out on nursing here or there.

Before you were even conceived it was my desire to nurse you. I heard all sorts of nursing horror stories throughout my pregnancy with you. For whatever reason, I never let nursing worry me while I was pregnant. Thus you and I don't have a horror story, we have a beautiful story of an incredible nursing relationship.

It all started the minute I pushed you into this world. You came with three little holes in your heart, but I was still determined to at least get to nurse you before they whisked you away for numerous tests. Amazingly enough, they let me. You started on my right side. Which is funny because I now realize you have favored that side all along. They only let you nurse for a tiny amount of time and only on that side. In that time though, you figured out the most perfect latch. I did not get to hold you or try to nurse you until 24 hours later and I am convinced that it was because of that first nursing session, that you were able to latch right back on again later.

The first few days were filled with engorgement, but I never had sore nipples, and I had no pain while you nursed. Sure it felt strange to have you on my breast drinking breast milk, but it didn't hurt, and for that I was grateful! In our two years of nursing, I did get plugged ducts. At one point, I am pretty sure I developed Mastitis, but I pushed through it by doing my research, as I always do.

It is because of that research that I ended up nursing you as long as I did. At first my goal was just like everyone else. Just get through the first six months. I told myself I would re-evaluate at that point and try to make it to a year. One year later, our nursing relationship was going so well, I decided why not try for 18 months of nursing? At 18 months, I had done enough research to know that I wanted to let you wean on your own timing. It was sometime in the months before your sister was born that I started doing the "don't ask, don't refuse" way of nursing. I have pretty much exclusively done that since. Thus bringing us up to you no longer asking. At the age of two I asked you if you were ready to wean and you declared with tears in your eyes that you were not ready and that you needed to nurse. Today you tell me you haven't weaned yet, but sweetie, I am pretty sure you have. It's been over two weeks since you last asked and you don't seem to even mind.

I have so many incredible memories together. I will never forget you hungrily gulping my breastmilk in those first few days. Nor will I forget my milk spraying all over your face and hair. I remember so many times lovingly playing with your hair (the little you had) and in my head I kept saying, I never wanted to forget that moment. The moment of looking down and seeing you sleeping, drinking on your na-nas. I still love the fact that when you are tired, sad, scared, you come to me and play with my hair. Some of my favorite memories are of when you first learned to smile and you would latch on, look up at me and smile and latch back on. That cycle would repeat and repeat over and over again. You soon grew so big that you were curious to your world around you and if daddy was in the room, you would try to turn and look at him while nursing. That hurt! However, you were a very good little girl when it came to nursing and teeth. I think you bit me a few times, but that was it. You knew that if you continued to bite, I would not continue to nurse! I also remember around 9 months of age, your daddy bringing you down to me and you looking at me and screaming "Nurse!" when up to that point you hadn't said that. At a year, I had a professional photographer take nursing pictures of us because I did not want to forget what that was like. I do not regret those pictures, they are some of my most treasured memories.

My only regret with nursing is how our relationship changed when your sister was born. For that I am truly sorry. I'm sure alot of it was because I was overwhelmed with two little girls. I was tired from giving birth. I also all of a sudden no longer saw you as my baby. You grew up overnight in my eyes. In yours, you were still a baby in need of the warm milk from your mama. I often got frustrated and didn't want to nurse you. I wish I wouldn't have. I wish I would have cherished you just a bit longer. I miss our snuggle times in the morning because even though we have special snuggle time, it just isn't the same because you don't snuggle into me as deeply, or for as long.

You are growing up honey. I love it, but I hate it. That is why I title this as bitersweet goodbye. I am happy in a way to no longer be tandem nursing.  I am happy to have you just wake up in the morning and eat breakfast, and not have to nurse. I'm proud to see you grow up, see the choices you are going to make. However, I am so sad. I know the first step to goodbye was the second you had solids, but this seems so final. It truly is goodbye. I am almost panicky thinking of you never nursing again sweetheart. I've actually had this written for a few weeks, but haven't had the heart to click on publish post because once I do, it is final. I'm sad. On the otherhand, I couldn't be more pleased to how it all happened and that it was a painless weaning process.

So goodbye to sweet breastfeeding, but hello to more incredible moments with you to come!
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17 comments:

  1. Wow I'm speechless....and well you know that's a lot for me.

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  2. Haha! Nikia you make me laugh! :) I hope it's a good speachless. I have a whole post to follow on extended breastfeeding.

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  3. That was beautifully written. :) I look forward to your extended breastfeeding post to come.

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  4. Aw... you made me cry. Congratulations on and to Zoelle, as she grows daily into a still more amazing person. How beautiful, uplifting and heartbreaking all in one!

    -Mandy

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  5. Stopping by from SITS, Happy Saturday Sharefest. Thanks for sharing your breastfeeding post!

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  6. You brought tears to my eyes. All the little moments you talked about the smiling and the relatching on i think we have all had those giggle My son is 17mths and still does that..lol or laughes and tried to suck with his touge crurled around my nipple and makes a sucking sound but just can't get latched on right untill he stops laughing. I too am afraid of saying good bye i dont no what i'm gonna do.

    :hugs: to you mamma!!

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  7. Sweet letter! I've had similar feelings about my middle daughter. Bittersweet as they grow, huh?

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  8. You brought tears to my eyes. Particularly the part about how once the new baby is here, she seems to grow up overnight. Can't they stay little for just a little longer?

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  9. I just wanted to drop a line and say I read every word and thinking of you!

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  10. That is SO beautiful, now I am crying! I would love to share this with my LLL Group (anonymously of course!) if you wouldn't mind! You are an awesome mama :)

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  11. That was such a sweet letter! Z is so blessed to have you for a mama. :)

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  12. By the way, I got the Bummas over the weekend. They are so cute! Thanks again!

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  13. Oh, Vanessa. Weaning IS bittersweet, isn't it? It's actually the perfect word to describe it.

    My "nursing story" sounds similar to yours. With my firstborn, I thought I'd nurse for 6 months...then, I said a year...it ended up being almost 2 years. And I am so glad. I wouldn't trade those memories and that closeness for anything (plus, she's a super healthy little girl, which I attribute primarily to breastfeeding).

    Now, I am nursing her little sister and will likely continue for about 2 years.

    stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

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  14. It is so bittersweet. :( What a neat nursing story you have. I had no idea that you too had extended breastfed. Zoelle too is a very healthy girl which I attribute to breastfeeding as well.

    I do plan on nursing Meridian as long as possible, but our nursing relationship is a bit different. She has never cared for nursing the way that her older sister did. We shall see though, I have been surprised before so I may be again.

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  15. What a great post! I know weaning my 11-month old will be a difficult thing. Just the thought of introducing her to cow's milk soon scares me. I want to nurse her for as long as possible, allowing her to self-wean. But I know that her growing up and moving on from nursing will inevitably come to an end. Bittersweet, indeed.
    Thanks for diretcting me to this post.

    Kristi, Live and Love...Out Loud
    @TweetingMama

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  16. Kristi-Oh my heart hurts for you even thinking about the thought of having her wean. Maybe it's because it's so fresh in my mind. On the other hand, it is so good for her to make that decision on her own.

    I also wanted to tell you that you don't have to give her cow's milk if you don't want too. We never gave Zoelle cow's milk really until she was weaned. As long as she is getting other sources of calcium (thru cheese, yogurt, etc.) she should be fine!

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