Perhaps you saw my perplexed tweets on this issue, perhaps not. Either way, I think it's safe to say that it's official: We've weaned. There was no gradual stepping down of feedings, no effort whatsoever on my part. It was quick...I'm talking lightning quick here. One minute she loved nursing and couldn't live without it, and the next...it was like "Mom what are you doing? That was sooooo 10 minutes ago." It happened on Friday...or whatever day we went to go see Kung Fu Panda II (loved it btw). Noweo hadn't nursed very well that morning and every nursing session included purposeful biting. Lots of people would chock it up to teething, but she's been teething for months, her front teeth have been in for almost as long as she's been alive, and I've never had an issue where she bites me EVERY SINGLE TIME. It soon became clear to me that something clicked in Noweo and this issue wasn't going to go away. What made me sad was that she still acted like she wanted to nurse, but when I'd offer, she'd just bite me. She had no latch whatsoever, and I couldn't comfort her the way I always do, so she'd roll around and cry and she seemed quite sad about not being able to nurse. She wouldn't even take pumped milk in her sippy.
After 24 hours of trying to get her to nurse, I gave up and decided not to offer. She responded and stopped asking, and has showed no interest whatsoever. And that was that.
I had been wondering how nursing was going to end, but I hadn't figured on such an abrupt severing of our nursing relationship. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. I've been directly nourishing this girl with my body for almost 2 years (from conception in July 2009 on through nursing for 13.5 months). It's almost like I've been pregnant this whole time because my body has not been completely mine, and I've come to associate motherhood very closely with birth and nursing, and the fact that Noweo's completely independent of my body leaves me feeling empty and useless and not special, even replacable. Now, there's nothing I can do for her that no one else can do, and that kinda sucks.
BUT, there is a silver lining. Since Noweo stopped nursing, she's become a MUCH better eater. I think she knows that this is all the food she's gonna get, so she'd better eat up! She's also become a better sleeper, suddenly able to get through the whole night without eating. Even though she still wakes up and rolls around, she doesn't need me and puts herself back to sleep pretty easily. Falling asleep is even easier! I just plop into bed with her, stick a binky in her mouth and she's down in a few minutes.
I feel like she's grown up so much in just the last couple of days, and my faith in the process of growth and development has been reinforced. Why did I question myself so much? Probably because I didn't know any better, but I trust the process now. Noweo was ready to be done, and she let me know, and whether or not I'm ready, it's about her not me.
I know my feelings of being replaceable and not special anymore are irrational, but I needed to get them out. I know she loves me, that she wants me more than anyone else and she's often devastated when I leave her side. She's gonna need me less and less and less as she gets older and other things will become more important that "Mom," and that's natural and I'll have to get over it every time.
I'm so happy that I nursed for as long as I did. I have beautiful memories of curling up in bed with her, of talking to her about nothing, locking eyes with her and making her laugh. Nursing is more than feeding a body. It has literally fed our love and connection to each other, and though our nursing relationship may be over, our mother-daughter relationship is just beginning.