Monday, February 28, 2011

I Can’t Stop Talking About the Boob. Additionally, I’m a Selfish Jerk

This whole weaning thing happened much faster than I thought it would.  On Friday night I nursed him for the last time before bed.  After more than 20 minutes I detached him and he cried for more.  I gave myself a little squeeze to see what was up and for the first time there was no stream of milk, there was barely a dribble.  Clearly the nursing had turned into an exercise in frustration for both of us.  After talking to Z and a whole lot of ugly crying I decided we needed to be done.  So last night the bedtime routine went as usual.  He had a bath, we brushed his teeth, we read him his stories, bundled him in his sleep sack.  Z told him to give me a kiss, which he did.  And then Z carried him into his room to rock him a bit and put him in bed.  T cried, “Mama!  Mama!”  and “Milk!” and I ran downstairs and resumed the ugly crying.  I haven’t felt so wretched about a parenting choice since we started sleep training. 

Ultimately the sleep training worked for us and turned him into a great sleeper with a much better attitude when he was awake.  I’m trying to hold on to that thought instead of indulging in the one where I feel like I’m a terrible failure of a mother.  A friend of mine left a really nice comment on the last post (I hope your doctor figures out what is going on with you!) in which she said I was an unselfish mom for nursing for so long.  I am glad that I was able to nurse him for as long as I did, but there was nothing unselfish about it. 

Am I the only person in the world that is almost exclusively motivated by selfishness?  I’m going to be supremely and unflatteringly honest with an example here.  One of the many reasons I don’t want a girl is I like being the only girl in the family.  I don’t want to worry about ever going to the terrible competition place with my child.  I don’t want to find out if I would be jealous of that little girl, if I would see her life as a do-over I’d never get the chance to take.  Boys are safer.  And my ridiculous worries about competing with a daughter for Z’s affections feel even more crazy when I realize Z and T don’t occupy anywhere near the same area of my heart.  But I am a small person, there is nothing selfless about me.  I want the easy road.  My relief when the ultrasound tech saw a penis last week was immense. 

Yes, I wanted to nurse T because I actually believe it is the best choice for feeding a newborn.  The statistics on the correlation between obesity and formula are overwhelming, the antibodies passed through mother’s milk that help ward off illness are indisputable.  But I think the reason that I fought so hard to make it happen after it didn’t come easily was it was something I could do for him that no one else in the world could.  It would make me special to him; it would create a bond that was unique.  When he was hungry he would only have eyes for me.  It was a fail proof way to make him love me.  Of course now it sounds like I think a baby won’t love or bond with his/her mother without breastfeeding.  I swear nothing could be further from the truth.    How any woman chooses to feed her child should be completely up to her, and there are many factors that go into the decision.  Not to mention the instances when a woman might want to nurse, but is unable due to a low milk supply.  In fact, just writing down why I thought I needed to nurse really clarifies how crazy my rational was.   And how deep seated my insecurity is. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that I nursed him.  I’m glad it did provide a way for us to bond.  For whatever reason it never felt like a burden and it will always be something I look back on with love and joy.  I just wish my motives were pure and unselfish.  I wish I didn’t worry that weaning him would take that bond away in his eyes.  The funny thing is now I really wish I could have waited until he was at least 2 to stop.  I wish he was old enough to understand so I could explain to him why it was time to move on.  I’m not a god gal, but I really do pray this transition is easier on T than it is on me.  Because personally it has sucked balls.   

Little man is very serious about his chocolate chip cookies. 

My mom got him his own computer for Christmas and he loves using it while we are on our computers.  


  1. Oh, Karen... it doesn't matter when you wean. Em was almost 3.5 when we weaned and I still felt dreadful. Because I was not sure i knew how to be a parent without it. Won't sleep? boob. Tired and cranky? Boob. Didn't like dinner? Boob. I wanted to stay in bed for ten more minutes? Boob. I was so scared that I wouldn't know how to be a "good" parent without nursing. Wheteverthehellthatis.

    Rest assured it is easier on T than on you. And I hear you on the selfishness of nursing. Everyone thought I was such a martyr for nursing. Ummmmm... not really. It was cheaper. And portable. And i could stay in bed. :)

    I've been thinking of you... it's a journey.

  2. I nursed my son for much less time than you did -- I went back to work at 3.5 months, my supply seriously dwindled despite nursing in the morning/night and pumping twice/day and he was weaned completely at just over 7 months.

    Ditto the previous comment -- my fears were that I wouldn't be able to comfort my little guy at all without nursing. It had become my standby method.

    It's a tough transition, but not to worry -- at nearly three, it's still Mommy that my son calls for when he falls or bumps his head. He's split between me and my husband for the bedtime routine, which used to hurt my feelings, but now I see it as 30 minutes of free TV time.

    Wanting to have that unique bond with T doesn't make you selfish -- it just means that you've created a solid bond that will last a lifetime.

  3. I just wanted to say thank you for your honesty and openness in discussing your fears. As a woman who is thinking about becoming a mom soon, who has struggled with depression it is nice to not feel so alone. Thank You.