Today marks the second day I haven’t breastfed my wee son. For any readers here who don’t have small nurslings – I saw that your eyes started to glaze over, by the way – just go ahead and skip this entry now.
For the remaining two readers still with me (perhaps a few of my breeding / nursing / weaning Mama & Papa faithfuls) I want to first admit I am freely offering up my confusion and uncertainty at how to proceed. My son is almost 19 months old and seems to be in a classic window of opportunity to wean. Concomitantly (wink! wink!), I have been for the past year completely irritated at his intense-clamping, non-eye contact pillage technique. It’s more of a breast-rape than anything else. Sure, sure, I know at least he is enjoying it – his eyes do roll back in his head as he mashes and pinches and gnaws, sometimes while playfully attempting to kick me in the face. And I do believe in the immunological benefits which have been scientifically proven over and over again. Perhaps in large part because of my commitment to breastfeeding, both of my children seem to enjoy very good health, even my daughter post-weaning after three years of nursing.
Implied in that last sentence is the issue at hand for me – I nursed his older sibling until she was three. There is a significant part of me that wonders if my thought to wean Nels at 19 months is a cop-out along the lines of the many “Fuck-it!” decisions you start to make with each additional child added to your household (there is a mathematical relationship, I’m sure of it). When I ask myself if I’m just giving up easily because I’m tired of almost five years of constant pregnancy and/or nursing, or whether Nels and I really have outgrown it, I have no clear answer.
Ah, but nursing my first child was so different. She would pet my face and laugh and snuggle and at age two started saying things like, “Mama, I love nursing the mannas!”. She also seemed to gain more emotional comfort from it than The Boy does. He has never been a child to need the breast when he’s had an upset. A couple weeks ago at the doctors’ after he got his shots he was over it so fast I wouldn’t have had time to whip out the boob, anyway.
I posted to my local parenting site with a “I’m not digging this at all, will someone give me some support to continue?” plea months ago. One woman wrote back. No one else did. For all my irreverent but not-serious digs at the “La Leche League Mafia” and their “militant nursing” perspective, that was a time I could have used a little, “Goddamnit, you need to butch up and do this!” advice.
Well, I’ll admit, the idea of being done with nursing is tempting. I took a weekend away with my oldest a couple weeks ago. It was lovely not to have to compromise my clothing and my body for two days and two nights. The Boy himself experienced no distress my husband could fathom. It was me, on the second night away, feeling that backed-up-milk-poisoning feeling. So maybe I just need to taper off, gradually. And try to forgive myself if I don’t do the same exact thing for one child that I did for the other.
Or, maybe just allow myself to feel that oppressive, no-matter-what-I-do, special kind of guilt. That’s what being a mother is all about, right?