I’ve neglected to write this post for months. In fact, I haven’t even uttered (pun intended) the word breastfeeding on the blog in quite some time (September 2008). I’ve struggled with how to say it, when to say it and even why I felt like I needed to say it. The fact is that LittleBrother weaned awhile ago.
I won’t give you an exact date or even the exact length of time of his nursing career. I will say that it was over one year but under two years. (Obviously as his second birthday is just under two months from today.) I will only say that much about the length of time. Why? Some will say that anything over the year mark was too long. Some will say that anything under the two year mark was not long enough. And I will tell both camps to fluff off. Kindly, of course.
Our nursing experience was wonderful. Once we got his tongue tie fixed and learned to ignore the doctors regarding slow weight gain, it was smooth sailing. I could have kept right on nursing for much longer. LittleBrother had other plans. At first, when he stopped, I thought we were going through the inevitable nursing strike. Those happen. I was prepared for it. And then it didn’t stop with the strike. He got some pumped milk for awhile, in a sippy cup because we just never did bottles. Plus, he wanted to be like BigBrother. But he absolutely refused the breast. Pushing, hitting. Screaming, demanding. “Milk. Cup.” He didn’t want to stop to be with me. He wanted to be just like his older brother. He didn’t have time to snuggle and cuddle with me anymore.
I continued to offer for awhile. I continued to pump for awhile, watching my supply tank over a three week period. I resigned myself that it was over when a month had passed and he had fought me any time I had offered. I don’t even recall the date of our last legitimate nursing session; I wasn’t expecting it to be the last. I was expecting months more of time alone with my last baby. Not so. I’m sure it was a lovely time together.
Then the guilt hit, of course, when the frozen breast milk supply ran out and we switched fully to whole milk. And he had some intestinal issues and was diagnosed with mild lactose intolerance. Great, I thought. If I had just forced the issue, if I had just gotten him back to the breast, we wouldn’t be having these problems! Of course, we would have in the end. I found out after that diagnosis that I make a lot of meals with milk. At the worst of his issue, even mashed potatoes made with milk resulted in a horrible intestinal problem. I learned to cook without milk for quite some time. I kept beating myself up over the issue but I learned. I kept hoping that our doctor was right, that somewhere near the age of two he might outgrow the lactose intolerance.
We had been planning on waiting until the month of his birthday to reintroduce milk products. Then I accidentally made a huge meal with milk and cheese and basically just a volcano of dairy. Mommy brain implosion, apparently. After we ate and even the day after, LittleBrother didn’t have his normal explosive reaction. A few days later, we offered him some of the cottage cheese that BigBrother eats every day with lunch. He liked it. No reaction. We continued to offer the cottage cheese while on vacation last month. No reaction. Upon returning home from said vacation, we offered a glass of milk. He drank it. He liked it. No reaction. No reactions at all for the past month. In fact, he’s had better bowel movements since returning to milk than he had on the rice milk. Color us shocked.
Cooking is easier again. As usual, he’s my good eater so he’s been enjoying all of the recipes that I had to avoid during our months of anti-milk propaganda. He’s happy, not that he ever wasn’t, doing things just like his brother. My guilt is lessening. I really felt horrible for the interim months when we kept dealing with stomach issues. I kept beating myself up for not sticking it out, for not forcing the issue. Not that I feel that I could have; he was determined to keep up with his brother. I was just weighing him down.
I’m happy to see him as a very independent toddler. I know that our months of breastfeeding and bonding helped that along. I do miss our moments together but, more so than his brother, he’s a lover and cuddler. He will be running by and stop to kiss or hug me. Or his daddy. Or anyone sitting still. A lover, indeed. I have my moments of nostalgia and sadness when I see my friends nursing their young ones, knowing that I’ll never experience that closeness with another baby. But mostly I’m just trying to keep up with two very quick, very busy, very energetic little boys who are constantly trying to out-do one another.
And that’s okay.