disclaimer: this is a super emo (and perhaps super lame), rambling post about breastfeeding. i know some of you have zero interest, so if you continue to read, consider yourself warned.
so here we are, 20 days before the bean's second birthday, and i just put her down for a nap sans boob for the very first time.
of course, she's had no problems falling asleep while under the care of MIL or the hub - she doesn't associate the comfort of nursing with either of them. it's just me who's always had that crutch to rely on, the tool that never fails to comfort and soothe her.
when she was born, i was bound and determined to be her sole source of nutrition for the first six months of her life, and then continue to nurse without having to supplement with formula until her first birthday. you all know i was wildly successful with this. and i never felt any hesitation to feed her when we were out and about - i'd just whip out that pretty little pink-and-orange nursing cover and we'd be fine. she came to recognize it as she got older and would get all excited and grin ear-to-ear when i'd pull it out of my bag.
and so when she started to transition into solid foods - first puréed fruits and veggies, and then on to more fun finger foods - i went through a little bit of depression as i came to terms with the fact that she was growing up and was starting to need me less and less with every day that passed.
i'd told myself (and anyone who asked) that my goal was to nurse till she was 1, and then switch over to whole milk and wean her off of nursing completely. but then she had such a difficult time getting used to the transition - it took quite a long time before she'd actually even touch the stuff, no matter what we did to it or what kind of fun cup we put it in. and so i continued to nurse, telling myself (and again, anyone who asked) that i'd definitely, positively stop before she turned two. totally.
not to mention, we were all getting a great night's sleep. she wouldn't necessarily sleep through the night, but when she'd wake up, she'd reach for me and i'd sleepily pull her close and let her latch on till she fell asleep again. yes, i was a human pacifier. and i loved it.
over the last few months, i've known that she didn't need the nursing for nutrition anymore. it was always for comfort. i knew this. and yet i had to admit that it was comforting for me, too. it was our special bonding time, during which i'd get to hold her close (being an active little thing, she often resists long hugs and cuddles nowadays in favor of running around and being on her own two feet, on her terms) and she'd look in my eyes, reach up, and hold my cheek with her chubby little hand.
so as her second birthday gets closer and closer, i've been getting increased pressure all around me to finally put an end to it. i've been stubbornly clinging to statistics from the world health organization, la leche league, and everything else i could find that told me that extended breastfeeding is perfectly fine and seemingly acceptable everywhere else except the good ol' united states of america.
as it is, it's just barely possible to nurse in public at all - even completely covered up - without drawing stares and the side eye from a big chunk of society. hmph. and i'm giving in to that pressure. i'm trying to remind myself of the positives - i'll get to wear pretty bras again, not have to concentrate on accessibility when shopping for clothes, get to the point to where the bean will sleep in her bed all night without reaching for me at 2 a.m., not have to carry the nursing cover everywhere anymore. i won't have to hear the annoying "OMG, are you STILL nursing her?" or "wow, how old is she? are you going to stop that soon?" anymore.
today, i'm actually wearing a crew-neck tee as i concentrate on being firm and not giving in to the desire for that bonding time whenever the bean comes over and says "boob? peeeeeease?" with that beautiful, happy, cheerful smile. the smile that crumples into the saddest little face i've ever seen, and ends up with big, round tears rolling down those hopelessly squeezable cheeks.
by the way, i swear i didn't teach her the "b" word. i don't know where she picked it up, but i guess weaning her at last will save me from having to flash an embarrassed grin when she says it in public. see, another positive. yup.
i dread tonight, when she'll inevitably wake up looking for that familiar comfort and be denied. i've tried to withhold it in the past, but when she'd cry and end up fully awake, i'd cave in so that we could all get back to sleep. but tonight, i'll have to be strong. and prepared to be a tired zombie tomorrow. besides, i really DO have to do it, since we'll be off to vegas in a little over a month for two whole nights, leaving the bean with the ILs for the weekend. and it wouldn't be cool to stick them with the sleepless nights as she learns to comfort herself and get back to sleep.
part of me is excited for this change, but a bigger part of me is really, truly sad. my little baby bean is growing up. it's so hard for me to come to terms with this - it seems like just yesterday she was born, and now she's a little person with opinions and thoughts and personality. how/when the hell did that happen?
after she wakes up and the day goes on, and i continue to tell her "no, baby, no more" when she reaches for me, i wonder who'll be crying harder - her, or me?
right now, as i type this and ponder day-to-day life from here on out, it's definitely me.