Oh, internets. Can you help me with my boobs again?
I’m pretty done with this nursing business. I know Brooklyn moms aren’t supposed to wean before kindergarten, but even so. I think I’ve done what I can do. I’ve persevered through Weightgate and the Very Bad Months of untreated Reynaud’s. I’ve kept at it despite the early return of my period and its attendant supply-plummets. I’ve eaten oatmeal (a food I do not love), drunk gross teas, and dutifully taken my blessed nifedipine every day or felt the consequences. Nifedipine is the kind of drug whose metabolism is sensitive to the presence of furanocoumarins (you’re welcome, vocab nerds), so I have dutifully avoided grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and more to the point in this trendy town, cocktails containing either. Okay, okay, that’s not a big sacrifice, but I really could use a drink.
Breastfeeding is hard for lots of people, but I think it’s fair to say I am in the “worse than average” category. Frankly, it still hurts most days, at least some of the time. I hear it’s “not supposed to,” but them’s the breaks, I guess. I’m grateful that I was able to do it at all, but the Bean is a big, strapping boy these days (a whopping 7th percentile for weight at his last visit, but holding his curve more convincingly now) with his very own immune system, he seems adequately bonded to me, and I’m unconvinced there’s much more he has to gain from all this. As for me, one reason I didn’t want to wean sooner was in order to soften some of those early, horrible memories. I’ve now nursed back over the seasons that were so hard for me in 2011, and I’m not sure what’s left for me to gain, either. If I am to try to get pregnant again in the spring or summer, the Baby Factory will want me to have weaned, and anyway a few months’ break from supporting another human with my body doesn’t seem like the craziest idea ever.
Meanwhile, see below, the Bean has lately decided he doesn’t want to go to sleep at night for anyone but Sugar, so there’s one big boob advantage all blown to hell anyway. Which brings us to issues of practicality. Weaning all at once seems more than I can handle, intensity-wise, but I’m not sure what method does make sense. Dropping one feeding at a time, right? But which one? And how to avoid being clawed to death by tiny little fingernails when I say no?
Assuming I am available all day, the Bean nurses three times: when we first get up, when he goes down for his nap, and at bedtime. Because my Monday-Thursday schedule varies, none of these things happens every day, and on some days, only one of them does. On Mondays, for example, I leave before he gets up and miss his nap, so he goes 24 hours between nursing sessions (Sunday night to Monday night). Friday-Sunday, I usually do all three, except Jess sometimes puts him down for naps, in which case he gets a bottle.
(Yes, I have been nursing him to sleep for some months, despite being quite proud of not doing that early on. Frankly, it has been the least of our considerable sleep problems, and a girl’s got to triage sometimes. He’s not always asleep when I put him down, but it is always the last thing we do, and sometimes he is asleep. He is never asleep when Jess puts him down after a bottle, and he does not take the bottle to bed.)
The morning nursing is, I think, the Bean’s favorite. If I am not there, he is reportedly quite unhappy, and if I am only sleeping in, he usually wants to nurse whenever I do get up. It’s not my favorite. I like that it buys me a little more time in bed, but it always hurts, quite aside from the climbing and scrambling and feet-to-the-eye maneuvers typical of toddler-nursing.
The nap-nursing is the one I was ready to drop at the end of the summer, after months of being home with him every day. (I didn’t, because we were about to go on that epic train trip, and I was not interested in establishing new routines just in time to blow them to smithereens.) Increasingly, he doesn’t go to sleep from it anyway, and it’s the time he’s most likely to be tiresome about the whole process.
Bedtime is the nursing session I like best. It’s the least likely to hurt, and by the end of the day, it’s nice to have a job that is mostly sitting in a dim room reading my email. However, it’s increasingly not working as a means to get the Bean to sleep. Even if he falls asleep during the process, he wakes up the second I move him, springs to his feet, and starts screaming. If he’s not asleep, he skips the waking up part. This continues as many times as I go through the cycle, so Sugar ends up having to go into him after I’ve left. She sometimes gives him a bottle and sometimes just sits by him, he is quiet, and the whole thing is over quickly. (This, perhaps unreasonably, pisses me off.) On Wednesday night, she wasn’t home, so he just screamed after I left. For twenty-five minutes. (Have I mentioned the household austerity measures that include no longer drinking on weeknights?) Last night, I nursed him while she played the piano, at which point I left, she gave him a bit of a bottle, which he didn’t finish, and was out of the room in five minutes.
So it seems like the bedtime session, my favorite, might be the easiest to drop. This would also stretch my non-nursing periods to over 24 hours (Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning, for example). I may have to sleep with cabbage in my shirt.
Then there is the issue of what to do instead of nursing during these times. I suppose I will just give him bottles, despite our pediatrician’s request that he be done using them by 12 months. She didn’t seem too horrified at the idea, just said we’d have to deal with that later. In fact, she looked quite sweet when I told her how fondly I remember my own favorite bottle, which I used occasionally up until age five or so. It was shaped like a dog, with blue ears. I called it Freddy.