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I am a weaner

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I can think of several things my 8-month-old son finds more fascinating than nursing:

The dog walking through the room, signaled by jangling tags. A referee’s whistle on TV. The doorbell, kids yelling “Go Fish!”, flies buzzing, spiders batting their eyelashes, the whir of satellites miles above us.

He starts to nurse, then moments later he pops away to look, listen, smile, pout, squirm.

I gently prod him to finish his snack, but he has other ideas. My arms are soft, warm, and safe. He’d rather be scouring carpet for crumbs to mouth.

I put him down on the floor and he creeps away, across the room to his sister’s dollhouse. There’s a bathtub to gum.

His mouth has been claimed. He guzzles from bottles. He smacks smashed bananas off rubber-covered spoons and gnaws on his fat fingers. Teeth are starting to erupt and they are sharp. He’s bitten me a dozen times. It’s painful for both of us, this growing.

One day soon I’ll wake up, go through the motions and commotions of the day. I’ll go to sleep and wake again.

It will hit me, hard.

My baby didn’t nurse yesterday. He tried avocado, though. My baby didn’t nurse yesterday, but he drank from a bottle which he held himself. My baby didn’t nurse yesterday, but he looked at me in a mirror and said ma-ma.

Whose idea was this, anyway? I have no idea if it was his or mine or etched into his DNA that now would be the time he’d move on. I can protest it all I want, but I cannot change how the moments flash away. I can smile back when he looks at me in the mirror and notes ma-ma standing there.

Oddly, she’s holding a baby who just said ma-ma, too.

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  • comment avatar Danielle September 16, 2009

    Definately the stage of my little one right now. She is so facinated by her brother right now(did I mention he’s the funniest thing in the world to her?!). It’s so sad to think of how quickly my baby girl is grown. If only they’d stay babies a little longer…

  • comment avatar JoAnn September 16, 2009

    What a great post, Gretchen! I was lucky in that Claire had a desire to nurse right up to the goal I had set in my head. I wanted to nurse for a year and use that 13th month to wean. That’s what we did, but what was shocking was that *I* was the one who had the hardest time letting go.

    I wondered if I’d ever be able to live without our routine. But, I did. I’m not sure which of us did most of the weaning…her or me. 🙂

  • comment avatar [email protected] September 16, 2009

    I *definitely* have had the harder time with this. It didn’t seem to bother my girls nearly as much as it tugged at me.

  • comment avatar Heth September 16, 2009

    So bittersweet.

  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck September 16, 2009

    That picture is sooooo sweet. And yes, it is bittersweet. One thing that will not be bittersweet: changing diapers.

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver September 16, 2009

    You explain well something I never got to experience.

    Beautiful post, Gretchen.

  • comment avatar Shayne September 16, 2009

    Love this post, Gretchen!

    “I can protest it all I want, but I cannot change how the moments flash away.”

    What a great description of parenting in general! I sometimes look at my kids when they are asleep in bed and wonder when and how they got so huge–I used to be able to hold them in one hand!

  • comment avatar Lynchpin September 16, 2009

    You are always a great read no matter what stage my motherhood is in.

  • comment avatar Jennifer September 16, 2009

    I’ve heard of this happening–this “self-weaning,” and yet have never been lucky enough to experience it, through 3 children. Not nursing anymore is sad, no doubt. But as I’m on the other end of the spectrum–reluctantly nursing a 2-year old but not wanting to cut him off (despite almost everyone thinking I should)–I can’t help but be jealous!

    A friend had a “Lactation Cessation Celebration” to ease the sadness. We all gathered, sipped wine, and talked. I highly recommend it. I’m planning mine now. When I’ll have it, who knows? It’s not really up to us, is it?

    Great post.

  • comment avatar Amy September 16, 2009

    Oh, weaning is always bittersweet, like so much of being a parent! J weaned herself, but I weaned H at 18 months and we both cried about it…

  • comment avatar Lisa September 16, 2009

    Love how you are listening to your little guy and letting him take the lead in growing into his next stage. The daytime nursing snacks fell away first for my boys, but they stayed with bedtime nursing past two as they loved that quiet time together.

  • comment avatar Sarah @ September 21, 2009

    I cannot even begin to imagine how I will feel when Charlotte weans. For one, I am increasingly enjoying nursing, and even being away and having Donald give her a bottle of expressed milk is startinng to seem unappealing lol. So I know I’ll miss the closeness and the sensations. But also, this whole growing business is bittersweet. I suppose I’ll be proud of her and love watching her grow more independent at the same time that I miss her suckling. SIGH.

  • comment avatar Kimberly September 24, 2009

    Hey, my kid is at that stage, too. If you WANT to keep nursing him, just push through. (I would nurse him in the dark….helps with mine.) My first did the same thing. OTOH, if you are ready to wean Archie, this might present a good opportunity! Don’t know why I am giving you advice, you out number me with kids 4:1! Best wishes!