Warning: read at your own risk.
I have had a hard week filled with every emotion possible: overwhelming sadness, loneliness, rejection, exhaustion...and I have been torn about whether or not to discuss the subject on my blog. But tonight I suddenly realized-as I was sitting on the couch, watching Law & Order, and trying to finish up a last-minute project at work-that it would be OK to vent, to share...
Charlie randomly decided to quit nursing last week, last Friday morning to be exact, on Day 2 of our vacation. I didn't realize it at first, as he had just come down with a fever and an ear infection. He's done this before, not nursed well due to ear pain, so I thought he'd rally after starting on the antibiotics, after returning to our normal routine. But no, that has not yet happened. He's made it perfectly clear that he's finished, done, no longer content to be a nursing baby. I suppose he's ready to grow up, to move on to more exciting things, like crawling and destroying our home on an hourly basis. And I'm devastated, heartbroken, lost.
If you would have told me 11 months ago that I'd be saying this, I would not have believed you. I thought I would suffer through nursing for the standard 6 months, counting down the days until I could be "set free" from the burden of constant companionship. In my lactation class, the instructor asked me why I wanted to nurse. Without batting an eye, I answered, "To burn 500 calories a day." The health benefits for the baby was a side benefit in my selfish, selfish mind, the thought never occurring to me that nursing Charlie would become one of my most treasured memories and accomplishments. But it has, well, did - over the past 11 months I learned things as a nursing mother that I never would have learned otherwise. First and primarily, I learned to be *still*, something that does not come naturally to me. I learned the value of taking time to breathe in life, to stare into the precious eyes of my adoring son, to pray for his life and his salvation, to pray for myself and Ryan in our quest to parent Charlie and his future siblings and to just rest. Secondly, I became a much less selfish person, will to sacrifice my schedule, physical demands and just general preferences for someone else. It has been very sanctifying. And lastly, I learned that doing what I was made to do can bring so much fulfillment, joy, peace and happiness.
Was nursing inconvenient? Yes, sometimes it would have been nice to get away for longer than 3 or 4 hours, to have a night away with Ryan or a full night of sleep as a mother to a newborn. But it was absolutely, 100% worth the price. I loved every minute of nursing my precious little son and I am so sad that this part of our relationship has ended. I wasn't ready for it...I had planned on weaning him slowly, one feeding at a time. I had imagined how our last feeding would look and had started preparing myself emotionally for that day (since I was planning to start weaning him when he turned 1). I've spent the last 2 days hoping that it wasn't really over but tonight, I know in my heart that it is. So I'm grieving (and undoubtedly dealing with some hormonal issues :)) and learning how to be a mom in this new stage of life we've just entered.
Side note: I do not apologize for broaching a sensitive topic in a public forum. God made women for this, physically and emotionally. And even though nursing is not for everyone or every baby, it is a beautiful thing. Our culture may disagree but that does not change the reality of the situation. And as a woman in 2007, nursing (and talking about it!) is my right. :)