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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Milestones

During my most recent visit to my mother's, Eliza crossed over from baby to big girl.  I know she's two, she hasn't been a baby for a while but over the course of a four day weekend, my girl blossomed in dog year time.

People have said she looks so grown-up lately.  Even my mother noticed how she looks so much more like a little lady when she first saw Eliza on Thursday.  Eliza paraded off the ferry in her pretty dress and my mother commented on the difference.  I kissed and hugged and cuddled my child and tried to tell myself, yes I can do this, yes I can let my girl grow up.

So the big news--Eliza is finally weaned.  I'd been thinking about doing it for a few months now for no real reason.  While I still enjoyed the calming effect of nursing and the bond it had created, nursing a very squiggly, active toddler gets less fun.  She's getting bigger, she used evening nursing to delay going to bed, I seemed to be getting crankier with it: it was time.  

I started by talking to her about it.  I'd tell her that she was getting to be a big girl and that only tiny babies nursed.  I'd send C in to get her in the morning but a lot of the time she wouldn't get out of bed.  She's swat at him and scream until I came into the room and held her.  I wondered how I'd be able to do this.  

Then Eliza got a stomach flu and suddenly what was a bad thing became an opportunity.  I explained to Eliza that nursing her made her sick and we couldn't do it for a while.  She was so sick, she didn't protest.  After a few days, she resumed with vigor.  

Then I got sick and didn't have the physical strength to nurse her.  C came home from work early and took over while I rested.  When she'd come up to me and start hiking up my shirt, I'd tell her than I was sick and didn't want to transfer the virus to her.  

She was okay with it.  She's ask, I'd say no, maybe she'd ask again and then get distracted by something else.  After three days, I really felt like we were done.  Friday night, she had a complete meltdown and practically ripped my shirt off.  I really didn't have much choice but to let her nurse.  However, contrary to what I thought, she didn't jump right back on the horse.  Instead, she didn't even ask the following morning.  Friday evening might be the last time I nursed my daughter.

As with anything, there's good and bad.  She's a good deal whinier without the comfort of the boob.  She gets angrier faster and reacts with more venom.  But on the other hand, she's actually become a great deal cuddlier, at least with me.  The only time I could hold my active, squirmy girl was when I nursed her.  This was the main reason it was so hard for me to give up.

Now I get to hold her.  She still wants me first thing in the morning.  She sits on my lap and puts her little arms around my neck and it's lovely, so lovely.  I finally get to hold my little daughter without popping a boob in her mouth.

At my mother's, Eliza slept in a bed by herself for the first time.  Suddenly the pack-n-play seemed too small so the bed was our only option.  Although she slept through the night every night, I'm not sure she was quite ready to hit this particular milestone.  But she was proud of herself.  When I'd tuck her in at night by lying down with her, she'd tell me how she slept in the bed like a big girl.  She'd wrap her arms around me and vibrate with proud satisfaction.  I think she was a little afraid when I'd leave her but she valiantly stayed in the bed, understanding that this was part of being a big girl.

Upon returning home, she went back to the crib with no problem.  But I can see the future and while I'm overjoyed at all the wonderful new things, I still feel sad about the stuff that's lost.  I had more than two wonderful years nursing my daughter; I really can't complain.  She's the only baby I'll probably have though, I can't help it I feel a void.

I asked my mom how people do it, how do they let their kids grow up?  I realize she's going to grow up, it's inevitable, it's normal, it's a good thing.  But how do I watch her grow up, smiling on the sidelines as she finds friends, classes, interests that take her away from me?  I want to be a good mother to my daughter and I am so excited by all the wonderful new things she does, I know I have the ability to let her go.

But how do I do it and not die a little inside as the great love of my love moves further and further away from me?

3 comments:

Cece said...

I am glad you decided to continue your blogging. Your love for Eliza shines through. I've written before to support your breastfeeding Eliza. I think it's great to hear stories of moms who have so deeply cherished the breastfeeding years. In my experience breastfeeding three kids through toddlerhood, I definitely found that the twos were the most challenging and there were days I was really needing to re-negotiate all of this. If you're ready to wean, the advice that La Leche League gives might help you: "Never offer, never refuse." Never refuse meant, in my experience, a lot of postponing, distracting, substituting, but never to the point of outright refusal. As you've described, she can go a long time without it, but then really insist. Good luck with all this. It's a process. I honestly am not sure I'd tell Eliza that only little babies nurse because she's a very bright kid and that contradicts her own--hugely important--experience! I look back at my bigger kids and remember those nursing moments when life really seemed to stop for a few minutes...in a good way. What I loved about nursing was it helped remind me of that there was still a little baby inside this rapidly developing BIG kid! Blessings on you, Lisa.

flynn said...

hi! I have no idea who you are.... BUT you posted on my friend nancy's blog (hanoi nancy for lack of a better connector!?) and i am now so intrigued. i am a newly married (okay, 3 years now) 40 year old living in nyc...considering children but realllllly scared. your story is inspirational, thank you.

Vycki said...

You know I marked the calendar the last time I nursed Mason? Down to the hour. It is so hard to let go. I'm glad that Eliza did ok with it and I hope you are doing ok as well.