When Your Kid Quits You Cold Turkey

Baby is going to turn one next week. It’s definitely cause for celebration, but part of me has been wishing it wouldn’t come so soon. I’ve been doing okay as a baby momma, but I don’t know about a toddler momma.

Aside from the bittersweet-ness of such milestones and my somewhat irrational fear of being unable to handle the challenges of a toddler, one of the things that I’ve been stressing about in hitting the 12-month mark is what to do about breastfeeding. Stop or keep going?

I never really pictured myself as a breastfeeding mommy. And I’d venture a guess that most of my family and friends are still shocked that I’ve lasted this long. I started out just wanting to make it to three months. Then three became six, six became nine, and all of a sudden I’m at the end of the year and still breastfeeding.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking more and more that I’m done. Not to mention that my husband is pretty much just weirded out by the idea of breastfeeding any longer; at 9 months, he thought baby looked too big and strangely out of place in my arms for a feeding. But more than that, I’ve been feeling like I want a little bit more of my life back. I’m tired of staying up an extra half hour at night (or worse, getting up a half hour early) to pump, traveling with a cooler, and always feeling self-conscious when nursing in public.

But I was also feeling a little sad and perhaps even guilty about stopping. Breastfeeding is not only such a healthy thing for the baby, but it’s such a special bond between baby and mommy. Nursing forces you to take the time to slow down and hold your baby close. And you can’t do that without always seeing your baby for the special little jewel that he (or she) is.

Turns out my anxiety over this was perhaps a little overblown because for as much as I was weighing my choices, I really didn’t have a choice in the matter. Last Friday baby up and decided he didn’t want to nurse and that was it. Dumped. Kicked to the curb. Dropped like a bad habit. For however many ways there are to say it, he was over me.

I’m not going to lie. My feelings were hurt.

I couldn’t believe that this was the end of breastfeeding road for baby and me. I tried for two days after that to get baby to nurse–unsuccessfully as it turned out. Baby was not going back on his decision no matter how tired, hungry, or upset he got in those two days. (I have to admit I admire his conviction.)

Maybe part of him knew that I was feeling ready, so he just decided to make things easy for me. I like thinking that, that we have been so in synch with each other that we were actually growing and changing together. But it’s also hard not to view it as a critical first step in his independence.

I keep thinking about something I read somewhere recently about how parental love is the only relationship where loving means growing apart rather than together. I wish I knew the exact quote because it’s so true. Being a parent means loving your kid enough to give them the skills and strength to go out and do their own thing. How simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking is that irony?

And that’s why I can still manage to shed a couple of tears over the fact that I’m no longer a breastfeeding mommy, even though I was ready to quit in the first place.

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4 Comments

Filed under babies, bottle feeding, breastfeeding, daily life, emotions, feeding, first year, formula, infants, lactation, moms, nursing, parenting

4 responses to “When Your Kid Quits You Cold Turkey

  1. Jenny

    I just wrote a similar post (although I have yet to publish it).

    I’m feeling the exact same way. I’m ready to be done physically, but I’m having a hard time mentally and emotionally making it happen. I’m already super self-conscious about nursing a 14 month old, but also don’t have the personal strength to cut ties just yet. I’m hoping, like Aleksi, that she makes it her choice, so I don’t have to.

  2. So glad to know I’m not alone! And it makes me feel even better that you’re feeling the same way after #3. I didn’t know if got any easier the more times you go through it. (Guess not.) I’ve got my fingers crossed that she makes her decision soon so you can stop stressing about it. That’s definitely the worst part.

  3. Erin

    As always, catching up late on your posts, but they always speak to me in some way. This one in particular strikes a cord right now. I too never thought I’d make it this far, and started off trying to make it to 2 weeks, then 1 month, then 3, then 6, and now we’re sailing past 7. But like you mentioned, that extra personal life keeps calling to me, and for some reason that last pump of the night is my arch-enemy. I dread it for some weird reason! But just so you know, you’ve always been a real inspiration to me to keep going. We’re aiming for 9 months next, and if we keep sailing along, 1 year is our ultimate goal. But as much as I dread the pumping at work, and the coolers and the nursing drapes, I also love that special time I have with Baby O. Like you said, it’s an immediate slow-down and time for me to reflect on just her. The grass is always greener, right!

  4. That it is. I’ve had breastfeeding mommy friends talk to me about how much easier life would be with only formula to deal with and then I’ve had formula-feeding mommy friends tell me they wished they had breastfed for longer. It’s crazy how there’s no “right” way to do this. But because I know how hard it is to stick with breastfeeding, through the ouchy early stages and then the pumping in the later stages, I just want to tell you good job, lady! Breastfeeding is a lifestyle and I feel like a lot of moms don’t really look at it like that, which may be one of the reasons some find it so frustrating. But it really is like trying to be a strict vegetarian (or worse, vegan) for a period of time or training for something like a marathon when you have never run a mile. So, be proud of yourself for your commitment. And if it’s any encouragement, I think your strategy of just taking it week by week is definitely the way to reach your goal. But the good news is that if you quit tomorrow, everything will be totally okay. Your baby will be healthy and happy and you will be just as great of a mom as you already are.

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