Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mother Sucker

I love breastfeeding my children. I excel at it. Within minutes of first holding each of my daughters I have had them lulled and latched, bonding at it's best. Each of my children has etched her own path through nursing and eating...they all vary greatly.

My oldest weaned herself around seven months when she realized that she had to share a food supply with her sister-in-utero. Bananas and cheerios were a better option. When #2 came along, she too nursed happily through eight months or so and then naturally drifted into a healthy diet of anything she could get her hands on. She maintains that diet to this day. By the time my third daughter came along I had researched and read about nursing and feeding and was determined to feed her as naturally as possible. She nursed enthusiastically until, around five months, I learned that number four was on her way and weaning happened due to unforeseen medical circumstances. I reluctantly but easily weaned her and she flourished on formula. I pureed my own baby food and molded her into a great eater of a variety of foods. She now prefers cheese.

I knew that Sage would be my last baby. I intended, as with the other three, to nurse for a year or so but assumed she would stop earlier. I assumed wrong. I started to introduce solids around 8 months I think. She was only mildly interested. She did not like spoons. She did not like cereal. She disliked pureed apples and squash and green beans and sweet potatoes and pears and basically everything. I continued to nurse. The demands of my other children required that I try a bottle of breastmilk now and then. She did not like bottles. I tried different bottles. She did not like them either. This was all okay. As a stay-at-home mom I could deal with the still constant nursing schedule. She nursed every three to four hours, nights included. Sometimes she would throw an extra feeding in there just for fun.

Nearing her first birthday, I began to prepare to wean. Despite the emotional drawbacks of weaning my last baby (which is a whole different post), I was determined to move on for the benefit of the entire household. I tried to feed her anything she would eat. Anything that would distract her from the breast. She still had little interest in food but it felt as if I had begun to pull back from nursing a little. She turned one and continued to nurse enthusiastically.

She is now nearly sixteen months old. She is still nursing with the hunger of a newborn and is becoming more and more insistant about when and where she wants to do it. She plays with her food but never eats much, sucks on sippy cups but doesn't drink much. Still refuses a bottle. SHE WAKES UP MULTIPLE TIMES THROUGH THE NIGHT. I am tired. I have tried everything I can think of to lessen her needing/wanting of me as a food source. I have mixed feelings about the end of my role as a nursing mother but I think I am reluctantly ready. She is not even close. It seems now we have become so completely co-dependant that I cannot leave the room without a distraction to keep her occupied...I cannot sit on the couch and sew or read or knit. I can't sit with my other children. I can't clean the house or work on projects that desperately need my attention. I cannot sleep in my bed alone with my husband. I am tired and although I know that I have allowed for this to happen, that my sadness at seeing my babies grow has made it hard for me to be firm, I yearn to sleep. I dream of quiet, empty lapped nothingness. But I continue to sit here and nourish her, comfort her and shrivel away.

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