Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I have started the gradual process of weaning Norah; for now we are down to nursing only at night before bed.

It might seem a bit early -- she is only eight months -- but I have an experience with nursing that I have never heard anyone else express. I don't know if that is because there are few people who have my experience, or because mothers don't feel free to express these things, but in my experience, when I am BFing, there is a certain part of my mental function that is just gone. Parts of my brain that I just can't access. And it drains me emotionally so that if the baby wants to nurse all day, I can't stand to talk to or touch anyone else all day. Night weaning and decreasing the number of feedings seems to really be helping this -- now, I really enjoy the nursing as a sweet, mama + baby experience, and I can relax in the moment a bit more.

I feel like this is an unusual experience, at best, and I have to admit that I am jealous of moms who can stand to breastfeed their kids until they are 2, and who can successfully handle that much giving on a daily basis. I sometimes feel like there is something missing in me so that I just have less to give. Cutting back on nursing N makes me feel somewhat ungenerous from a certain perspective. It is hard to avoid the "if only" disease -- if only I could conjure more patience out of somewhere. If only I weren't so selfish. If only my brain didn't slow down a little bit more with every ounce of milk.

But then, I consider the changes in me since I began cutting back the nursing on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, I caught myself singing and dancing with N in the living room, for no particular reason. I held her up in the air and she stuck out her fat little arms and smiled a big, drooly grin with her two bottom teeth peeking out. I realized in that moment that I had not been doing much singing or dancing for several months before.

And I know with both my logic-brain and my emotion-brain that C has been getting the short end of the stick when I have been so worn out. All my energy goes into the baby and he gets what is left over, which is not much sometimes. And it seems like a three-year-old needs interaction even more than he needs food. So giving up a bit of my mother-earth fantasy in relation to N seems worth it for being able to rebuild a good interaction with C, whom I have sorely missed in these weeks/months that I have been exhausted and "away." Feeling the divide between my beautiful boy and myself has kept me up at night more than once; okay, more than a dozen times, and having more energy to give to him is a very exciting idea for me after so much worn-out parenting.

It has been hard coming face-to-face with my limits as a person and as a mother. I wish I could do it all. I can't do it all.

But I keep catching myself in unexpected joy. After B left for music practice on Sunday I was lying on the living room floor playing with the kids, my feet resting on a pile of books that C and I had read our way through a half hour before -- which I finally had the energy and patience to do. N was scooting across the floor in her way, like a tiny fat soldier, and C set his truck down on the couch and leapt on me like a lion cub. "Mama," he said, planting a kiss on my cheek. "You're my friend."


  1. Very sweet! You know, I think Mommies play the what if game whether they nurse 8 months or 2 years. Seriously. There is always something that could have been better! Eight months is a long time to nurse, much longer than not at all. And if you find that you just can't do it, then congratulate yourself for getting through those hard months and enjoy what's coming! Maybe just keeping the night feeding for a while will be good for the both of you.

    PS. I "only" nurse for 12 months. :)

  2. I agree with Theresa. As a mommy nursing an almost 2 year old and finally weaning, I am also finding more joy in the times of the day when we used to be nursing and now aren't. For example, at night after nursing a tiny bit, we read tons of stories (many more than when he was nursing the whole time bc reading and simultaneously nursing toddler is kinda uncomfortable), then he snuggles up on me and I tell him a few stories. This time together is so sweet and I am enjoying it so much more. Another example: morning time. He comes into our bed and even snuggles up with hubby. I absolutely am in heaven in this moment rather than wishing he would get off my boob.
    So, I guess we should look at it, not as something we are taking away, but rather, that we are replacing it with something more conducive to the mental and emotional health of the whole family. I hope you are celebrating your 8 months! You should be very proud of yourself!