Weaning and the Dress

I’ve got my library copy of The Nursing Mother’s Guide to Weaning. We’re done with travel (during which time I got two plugged ducts…!), and Scout’s just about done with her cold. It’s time. Time to wean.

But I find myself hesitating, half elated, half devastated. It makes sense, I guess. When I stop to think about it, this project of breastfeeding extends to almost all aspects of my life. Weaning is a big deal.

Because I’ve always had an open door policy on breastfeeding, nursing on demand, the scope of nursing is bigger than it might be for mothers with more structure. Almost everything is affected. With Scout, I didn’t even bother introducing a bottle, so I didn’t spend more than a couple hours away from her until she was well over 1. I buy my dresses for breastfeeding access. My treatment of everything from strep to a cold is affected by breastfeeding, as is my consumption of alcohol. Because I’m nursing, I’m skinnier, hungrier, tireder.

Weaning will mean I’m less tired, less shakily hungry, less scrawny (a good thing, for sure). I will be able to wear normal bras and jeans I haven’t fit for a year. But I won’t have as much time for reading — one arm cradling baby, one holding a book aloft — or for cuddling a sleepy toddler in the middle of a quiet night. I won’t have nursing in my arsenal of comfort measures when she bumps her head, or to help her fall asleep and stay asleep in a new place. Looking back on my old tumblr, weaning was a big deal for me with Pippin, too. Despite predictions I might have made in those scary early weeks with Pip, I love nursing — unlike pregnancy, it feels like something I do well, that comes easily to me and overcomes my myriad failures as a mother.

I’m in no rush to wean my infants — there was even a time when I worried Scout would wean early — and letting them nurse past a year has meant 18 month breaks from my period and breathing room between pregnancies. I’m in no rush to wean my infants, but I have no interest in nursing an unwieldy preschooler, either. While several close friends have successfully nursed far into their pregnancies, I worry about how I’d balance everyone’s needs (good for you, not for me). And so now feels like the right time, even if Scout will take some gentle convincing.

So now I try to think of the Dress: a pretty, comfortable blue one (with pockets!) my mother-in-law let me pick out for Christmas, one I currently have to save for date nights away from Ms. Neverwean. It’s symbolic of all that’s waiting for me when I let this door close. If I can get us to the other side of nursing, I will have said goodbye to Scout’s babyhood, but that’s something we really left behind when she finally started walking and talking around 16 months. I’ll be as prepared, physically and emotionally, as I’ll ever be for if a third baby decides to grace our family. And I’ll be able to wear the Dress anytime I please.

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I have loved nursing this baby.

 

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Author: Katherine Grimm Bowers

Babies. Books. Fledgling housewifery. Once and future librarian. Catholic. Always thinking about chocolate ice cream.

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