Wondering When to Wean

9.17.07: Are my nursing days numbered?


"It's kind of like this," I said to Will, as I shoved the palm of my hand up against his chest and manhandled his right pec.

"Ouch! Stop it!" Will recoiled, horrified.

"I know! Tell me about it," I groaned.

I was trying to demonstrate to Will what's it's been like to nurse Charlie lately, and why I'm afraid my nursing days may be numbered.

Lately, Charlie has been turning into a bona fide, roughhousing, bull-in-a-china-shop boy, and the nursing department has been no exception. I'm searching for the proper analogy here...

If my breasts were a chocolate cake, Julia would have taken a little sliver, placed it on the good china, and put her napkin in her lap before picking up her fork. Then she'd take a dainty little nibble, put her fork down, and pat the corners of her mouth with her napkin before taking another bite. But, Charlie...oh, Charlie. He would be the defending champion in a fraternity cake-eating contest, racing to eat the entire chocolate cake with his hands tied behind his back. He'd shove his face right into the center of the cake, crushing it to smithereens in his thrashing-around efforts get a mouthful while all of his fraternity brothers chugged beers around him, cheering him on. Then, he'd come up for air with his entire head covered in frosting, a gleaming white smile poking out from under all the chocolate.

It's kind of like that. Only in this case, Charlie comes up for air still clamped onto my nipple, stretching it out a good six inches before it finally gives way and snaps back into place.

I'm guessing here, but I think my milk production may be slowing down. For weeks now, I've been noticing my incredible shrinking breasts. As Charlie has gotten more and more proficient with table food, my breasts have gotten smaller and smaller. My old worn out, threadbare nursing bras, which once fit so snugly, now have these extra sagging flaps of fabric in the cups that look all lumpy under my T-shirts. It's a sad, sad, sagging sight.

I asked Charlie's pediatrician for some advice. She said that Charlie's probably doing just fine, but if I'm worried about my milk supply, I should start pumping after every feeding. But, I'm thinking: Ugh. Really? At this stage of the game? After all we've been through? After all that initial pumping? After surviving all those weeks of searing nipple pain? After making it through all those months on a restricted diet? After getting through the biting phase, where Charlie would clamp down on my nipples with his new mouthful of razor-sharp teeth and then laugh hysterically when I screamed in pain? Now I'm supposed to hook myself up to a machine and milk myself several times a day? Haven't I done enough already?

I think I'll probably just let nature take its course. If it seems like weaning is happening naturally, so be it. And, if Charlie wants to keep nursing, so be it. Because while I'm excited about the prospect of having my body back for the first time in nearly two years...excited about being able to eat what I want and drink what I want, and wear what I want without having to think about whether I could nurse Charlie, I also know I'd miss nursing him. I would miss the ease and convenience of nursing. The way I can just plop down onto a bench in public and nurse Charlie when he gets hungry. No bottles to pack. No formula to buy. Or, the way I can just bring Charlie into bed and nurse him back to sleep with me when he wakes up at 5 a.m. raring to go for the day. No tiptoeing down to a freezing cold kitchen with a screeching baby to warm up a bottle.

But mostly, I would miss my boy snuggling close and nuzzling into me, the warm weight of his body resting in my arms, the chance to cuddle up and breathe in his sweet smell while my hands stroke his baby soft hair. I would miss when we look into each other's eyes and Charlie's lips turn up into a playful smile as he continues to nurse. I would miss the way he always holds his hand up to my lips so I can kiss his fingers. The way he plays with my hair. The way he rolls away from me in a sleepy, smiley daze, leaning his head back and babbling "Dadadadadada," so peacefully, so at home, so content.

I would really miss that.

Join FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.

Read the next entry: 9.24.07: Playing Hookey