I've got good news and bad news.
The good news is that I can almost guarantee that this will be THE LAST post in which I mention anything about breastfeeding or pumping. At least in relation to Macie (the jury's still out, for those of you wondering about a possible 3rd Herman child...). So my few male readers (and, heck, probably some of the females, too) can breathe a sigh of relief that they should no longer have to screen blog posts for such content before diving in.
The bad news, though, is that this means that the time has come for me to wean Macie from nursing.
With Ivie, it was different. She weaned herself at about 10 months. Randomly, one morning, she just refused to nurse. No warning, just quit cold turkey. I scoured online articles about "nursing strikes" and kept trying, hoping she would come back around. At first, she would still nurse at bedtime, but not in the morning. A few days later, though, she gave it up entirely. So while it certainly made me sad (it was supposed to be MY decision when we would stop!), I took comfort in knowing that I wouldn't have to take it away from her someday.
Macie, on the other hand, loves to nurse. And you wanna know a secret? I love it, too.
I know that this post might not make a lot of sense to some of you. Some others might disagree with me. And a few of you might want to just stop reading right now (because of the content - here's your warning). But I'm writing this one entirely for myself. And hopefully for my daughters someday if/when they're trying to decide whether to give breastfeeding a chance with their children.
First, I have to be honest and share the not-so-great parts of this commitment. There are certainly things that I can't, in good conscience, say I'll miss. Like dragging four bags to work every day, rearranging our freezers to make room for real food when several shelves are full of frozen breastmilk bagged and stacked in several ice cube trays, using nursing pads, planning our days/weekends/trips around pumping sessions, going through airport security and having them inspect each bottle of breastmilk individually, pumping in airport bathrooms and losing pump supplies in the madness, worrying about finding hot water to heat a bottle when we're out and about (since breastfed babies are spoiled by very warm milk), not being able to run in the morning because I have to use that time to pump instead and I no longer have it in me to set the alarm for any time that starts with a "5", not being able to run, period, because I don't like the way it feels to run with "mama-sized" breasts (sorry for the visual - I warned you) instead of my typically-much-smaller ones, having to stop what I'm working on to put the "Please Do Not Enter (with a smiley face)" sign on the door at work twice a day (and then again to take it off), washing the various pump and bottle parts 4 times a day and making sure to scrub the bottles sufficiently enough to get off all of the breastmilk "grease" (Dale agrees with me on this one),defrosting a bag of frozen milk only to find an apparent hole in the bag as it emits hard-earned breastmilk into the hot water (rendering the entire bag "contaminated"), and, finally, last-but-certainly-not-least, being able to claim my entire body for myself.
But you know what? If I were to rewind the clock to April 13th of 2006 (that glorious day when Ivie Schae entered our world), even with ALL of these things that made my life as a working, breastfeeding mom a little more challenging, I wouldn't change a thing (except maybe the sagas in the airports resulting from the multiple pump battery pack issues).
Here's why I did it...
I know it might sound odd, very odd in fact, that I LOVE that I was the only person who could get up in the middle of the night to feed my newborn. And I love that when she was hungry, she needed ME.
And now that she's sleeping through the night (finally!) and drinking out of a sippy cup with her breakfast in the morning (what a big girl!), I love that I still have those 15 minutes with her at bedtime. 15 minutes that are mine alone with my not-so-baby-anymore second child. Time that is generally preceded by tossing and turning, back arching, and big-tear-making screams on the changing table as she expresses her extreme frustration with the diapering and pajama'ing process after a long day when all she wants to do is snuggle, eat, and go to sleep. I love that the second we collapse into her glider, I can literally see her relax and go limp. I love that sometimes we fall asleep there together. I love lifting her up, sound asleep, and laying her with "Oogly" in her crib. I love that I'm the only one that gets to experience this.
I know that I am so very blessed to have been given the physical ability to nurse my girls for a full year. I am grateful that my environment was such that I had the opportunity to do so. And I am thankful to everyone for their encouragement and support, especially at the beginning when I clearly didn't know what I was getting myself into and was entirely overwhelmed - just ask my husband, mom, and sister, who all pulled me through my multiple freak-out sessions, particularly the one (remember it, Sarah?) when I couldn't figure out HOW TO "TURN OFF THE STINKIN' FAUCET"! (Remind me to tell you about it, girls, if you go down the breastfeeding road someday, so that you're not caught off-guard as much as I was.)
But, through the good and the bad, we made it, girls! And I wouldn't trade that time with you for all the Skittles (or Mike & Ike's, or Starburst, or Hot Tamales, or Chick-fil-A Cookies-n-Cream Shakes, though that one comes close) in the world. And, Mac? Even though it's time to stop nursing, I promise that we'll still snuggle in your glider. Until, of course, you get old like your sister and want to read books and sing instead.
Okay, enough of the sappiness. Let's just be honest, really. Macie will be just fine with a bottle at night. She might not even notice a difference, and she'll soon forget that I ever nursed her. It's Mommy that's going to be in withdrawal for a while. Particularly since it means she no longer has an excuse not to start running again...