More Than Milk

I have been well aware that my husband is anxious for me to wean M. Though even after our recent conversations, I’m still not entirely sure why. He’s not worried about M’s development or attachment or independence. He’s not concerned that he’s going to be one of those five-year-olds still hanging off the boob. He said he was concerned more for me than for M.

Which I’m still not sure I understand. Am I too attached to nursing? Am I forcing M to take the boob the couple times a day that I offer it? Am I being selfish? Or does he think I am? We didn’t really get that far. Or maybe I just can’t remember the answer he gave me at the time.

It’s true. I still enjoy my “snuggle” time with M. I’m not entirely ready to give it up. And it’s not only because of the immunity or the nutrition. Which are my primary lines of defense in this time of financial insecurity (read: cheap convenience food) and swine flu.

The thing is, M is probably ready to wean any time. James knows this, and I know this. But I don’t want to push him to wean because I’m feeling pressure from anyone else to do it. I want to wean him because I’m ready and he’s ready. I want it to be a natural transition, not the result of someone outside of this relationship telling me over and over again that it’s long overdue.

You see, I have started to wean my baby. My big boy. Weaning is a process. As I tried to explain to my husband. And the reason I’m not inclined to rush this process is because it has given me (and him) so much more than milk and the peace of mind that comes along with the kind my body makes.

Breastfeeding was the first thing that I really felt like I was doing right as a new mother. Even when it seemed like everyone was telling me that I must be doing it wrong, I found comfort in the gut-feeling that I knew it was working. Somehow I knew. And this led to confidence in other areas of my parenting. Becoming a mother was an indescribable, life-changing event. And one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life so far. And each day gives me new challenges to face in this role. Nursing links my toddler to that new baby still so fresh in my mind and my life, and it gives us time to be together without distraction, even if it’s just for a few short minutes each day. It gives me something tangible to point to when I feel like nothing in my life is what it should be. My boobs, at the very least, have accomplished something awesome.

I know that we’ll all be fine when the weaning process is over. I would just prefer to feel supported and understood than pressured and pushed. Because I want to enjoy these last weeks of a very important time in my relationship with my son that gives me a very real reminder of how much I have grown over the course of these last few years.

There is also one more thing that I haven’t said, a reason for clinging that I’m afraid to say out loud. I’m not in any hurry to wean because I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to enjoy the experience of nursing a baby again. I know mine’s not a baby anymore, but he still reminds me so much of that tiny newborn that once fit so neatly curled in my lap, especially when I’m rocking with him at my breast. And I want to hold that memory fresh in my mind as long as I can, especially if these memories of this child are the only ones, the only child, I’ll be making.

I really don’t think it should be such a big deal. I feel my reasons for proceeding slowly and with care are valid. I’m lucky to participate in a few special moments each day. It makes me happy, which helps to combat the sadness and worry that has permeated much of what remains lately. So I’ll take what I can get, and hope that the people who love me can find a way to trust that I still know what I’m doing.

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