The end of an era

So we’re weaning. If the idea of breastfeeding makes you queasy (you’re crazy, but I get it) don’t read on.

I told myself upon getting pregnant that I would do my best to breastfeed until the baby was 6 months old. That was the goal. It’s been 6 months and I’m retiring the pump, and my poor breasts from the feeding routine. We’ve slowly moved to cereal/food and formula, and this is the last week that I’ll be nursing Simon in the mornings in bed when I move him into our room at 5am. It’s bittersweet really.

I think about how many times it took us trying to get Simon to nurse before he finally got it. Three lactation consultants, trying and trying and trying to get him to breastfeed every day. Bleeding sore nipples. I didn’t think I’d ever take a shower facing forward again. Really, I couldn’t fathom how I would ever be able to stand there face the shower. Carrying Lansinoh around in my purse. Wearing breast pads every day. Every.day.for.six.months.

Other things that kind of sucked, but I’ve really thought about in the last two weeks, as I wean the boy:

Pumping every hour to make sure my milk supply didn’t stop because he wasn’t nursing. Pumping and crying in the hospital bathroom while we were at Children’s Hospital. Pumping at Gabe’s families’ houses in South Carolina. Pumping in the backseat of the car with a lighter adaptor while Gabe drove us down to SC. Pumping in the bathroom at work. Pumping in the manager’s office at work. Always wearing clothing that was easy to get off and on. Wearing and rotating the same four nursing tank tops for 6 months- this very much limits one’s wardrobe. Hauling the pump to work and forgetting a piece. Forgetting bottle lids. Forgetting an ice pack. Finding time in the day to pump at work. Pumping while dehydrated with the flu, barely able to do it with a fever and the chills. Realizing your milk’s letting down at a meeting. Picking up the baby when he’s already eaten at the sitters, but my boobs are about to explode. Sadly looking at pictures of Simon on my iPhone while I pumped and missed him tremendously. Feeling the surge of hormones dip as I pumped. These are all reasons I was ready to retire from the nursing/working mom thing.

And then there were the sweet moments:

When he FINALLY caught on- at 2 months old, that we weren’t trying to kill him, and he latched on and ate like a pro. Nursing Simon when he woke up at night instead of making a bottle. Stopping on the way to my parent’s house on Thanksgiving to nurse in the McDonald’s parking lot. Nursing at Babies R Us. Nursing in my car in the library parking lot. Nearly falling asleep in the chair each night before bed, as we rocked and nursed, rocked and nursed. The little “O” face he’d make shaking his head towards my chest wanting to eat. Laying in bed in the mornings and nursing until we both fell asleep. Feeling like I had a special way of getting him calmed down. The way his eyes looked at me as we both would lay down to take a nap. The way he smiled up at me as I fed him. The way his belly felt against my belly in the early days when we were first figuring it out.

My hormones are doing crazy things as we go from breast to bottle only. Part of me can get really sad about the whole thing, because it breastfeeding was our thing, it was something that only I could do for my son. I’m so glad we stuck with it and figured it out, and all of that pumping- every hour to two hours in the beginning, all of that eventually paid off and I’m so so so glad it ended up working. It’s the end of the breastfeeding era and I’m sad but also ready to move on…ready to wear shirts and dresses that don’t have to be taken off at any point in the day to pump or feed. I’m wearing a real bra right now- a REAL one!! Not a nursing tank or a nursing bra, but a regular one. It’s almost liberating. But I think about the breastfeeding journey and have to be thankful that Gabe put up with me and the hormones and the pumping. I have to thank him for going to the lactation consultant with me, for helping me most of the times we attempted and failed, for telling me, ‘He’ll get it eventually” even when I didn’t believe him. For cleaning the pump parts, for dealing with breastmilk like a champ and understanding my frustration with it all. I’m one lucky girl.

And I don’t have to haul that GD pump anywhere for a long time. It is cleaned, and put away in the basement, leaving me a free space to carry more stuff into work.

Sigh. I did the best I could, and am satisfied with the results.

Letter, month 6

almost 6 months

Dear Simon,

You are 6 months old, and so much has happened in just half a year. Time has sped up to fly 300 times faster than it did prior to your existence. Your personality shows through more each day. You’re a happy baby, and people remark about how happy you seem in public all the time. A stranger will smile at you and your face lights up like you just won the lottery. It’s so precious and I love to see how much joy you bring into others’ lives, even if only for a quick moment at the checkout in the grocery store.

This month we’ve had several “milestones”- the biggest one being food, or rice cereal. You had recently started watching us when we’re eating, and became very interested in this chewing/spoon to face thing we do. You stare at us while we eat, then stare at the plate, then us…concentrating very hard like you know we’re up to something…and thinking, “By the way, can I have some?!” You eat in your new high chair, and you’ve tried carrots, but still look at me like I’m crazy as I shovel it into your mouth- like, “What the hell is this crap?!” I made the carrots with my babyfood maker and I plan to try green beans next. Oh, the excitement of vegetables!!!

You have started turning to me and your dad and putting your arms up or out when you want be be picked up or held. It makes me feel so special that I’m a person you want to be around. Your dad and I take turns holding you when we get home from work. It’s like you’re the dessert to every work day. My very own whipped cream cherry on top.

With these milestones, you’re also getting better and better at sitting up on your own and also rolling over, particularly on soft surfaces like a bed or couch. You still flail your arms and legs about like a crazy person when you’re in the mood. It’s like you have two gears, FAST and STOPPED. You still love to be naked and squeal and smile when we take your clothes off of you at night. With all of this movement, bathtime has become more complicated, in that you want to roll over, or drink the water, or just scare the ever living shit out of me, I’m not sure which. Regardless, you also still love the bath- and I hate to say it but until we can keep your head above water without an extra set of hands in the tub,  bath time will be much shorter than it’s been in the past. You have mastered flipping yourself over from back to front, though you don’t really like being on your tummy so I’m not sure why you do it. You’ll flip, then realize you’re on your tummy, then whine. I can see that soon we will have a mobile little boy. That terrifies me.

You’re six months old and wearing 9 month old clothing for the most part, because you are a giant. I held our neighbor’s baby the other night, who’s only 7.2 pounds, not much smaller than you were when you were born, and I looked at this baby wondering how you were ever that small. I don’t remember it! It wasn’t that long ago, but you’ve grown in my arms and on my lap and snuggled at my chest so I can’t really remember it happening until I see your legs hanging off the side of the rocker as I rock you to sleep each night, and I wonder- how will we both fit on this thing in 3 more months?!

With the passing month you’ve gotten better at sleeping through the night, and you have (what I consider to be) three “lucky” pairs of pajamas that make it so. They are super warm and I’m convinced that they’re THE reason you’ve slept through the night. One pair has snowmen on them, the other stripes and a green dinosaur, and one blue pair with footballs all over it. One of these pairs of jammies will FOREVER be available through the winter time, as I’m certain they’re the reason you continue to sleep at least until 5am. They’re my personal “good luck charms”.

And then at 5am, I bring you back to our bed where I nurse you back to sleep for another hour, or two or three. Those moments are some of my favorites, though many more moments are being added to that list of favorites, since you have become so alert and curious about everything.

Tonight when I rocked you to sleep you were tracing my hand holding the bottle with your fingertips, and I would do the same back to you, softly and sweetly- and it was such a sweet little moment. And when we got you home from work I nursed you a bit and you looked up at me and started laughing, finding something hilarious about nursing?? I don’t know. But your ability to crack up over nothing just kills us. What will your sense of humor be like? Will you like corny jokes? I hope so. I love corny jokes. Your dad only likes dirty ones.

When I first started writing this letter, you were asleep in your bed. We’ve moved up your bedtime to 8-9 (depending on your mood) because you’ve started to get so fussy at night, it’s terrible. You go between slap-happy and crying over nothing so we put you in bed. You almost always immediately go to sleep, and when you don’t you just spend some time talking to yourself in your bed. But when I first started writing this, the house was completely silent- and I had your monitor next to me on the couch as I typed. Suddenly the loudest, scariest shriek came in like stereo-sound, both on the monitor and from upstairs. You and I were the only ones home at the moment. I swear I don’t even remember climbing the stairs, but I must have done it in two giant leaps. My heart was pumping so hard, I had never heard that sound come out of you before and I was immediately certain something was terribly wrong. When I got to your bed, your eyes were open for a moment, then closed again. Maybe you had a terrible dream? Oh my God I have never been that scared in my life. You have been a joyride so far, and we have had the luxury of not hearing you cry that much…and that shriek just about did my heart in. I stayed in your room and rocked you a bit, not that you needed it but I did. I had half a mind to put you in bed with me, more for my peace of mind than yours’. I never ever want you to be scared like that. That’s what your shriek sounded like, fear. It terrified me and my physical reaction to the whole (probably 30 second) thing amazed me. It’s like I’m programmed to protect you. It’s wild, and I hope that those adrenaline pumping moments are few and far between. Good God you nearly scared the pee out of me!

When we put you to bed, or down for a nap, you love to have the blanket over your face. It scares your dad and I a bit, and we check several times to make sure you’re not suffocating. But even if we pull the blanket down, you end up putting it right back over your face again as if to say, “Lights out! Time for bed.” You almost look forward to naps sometimes, rubbing the blanket on your face and smiling and giggling as we lay you down.

I’ve had a rough couple months- work has been crazy with being recently transferred, and then the news that I’m to be transferred again. Our landlord here offered us to buy the house we live in, and we investigated a bit and can’t quite afford it yet, which breaks my heart a little. You love this house, I love this house. We hope we can stay a bit longer- we’ll see how that goes. But at the end of any frantic day. any stressful day where my head is spinning from all the things I meant to get done and didn’t- I come home to you and you regulate me. You were the thing that was missing from my life up until August 4th 2009 and I had no idea until you came. You are my joy, my light, my favorite part of life. Happy six month birthday little Stinker butt. We love you.

xoxoxox

Mom