Monday, January 12, 2015

The End of an Era...

OK, that may be a little dramatic. But the truth is, I've been pregnant or nursing for over 4 years.

When I say it out loud it initially strikes me as a long time, but I only have two kids and women with more would tally up those years quickly. For 6 of those months I was pregnant AND breastfeeding.

But, Aleko abruptly stopped nursing in November. It took me over two weeks to even be convinced he was really finished. I'd offer more than he usually nursed just in case I could, I don't know, trick him.

Natural weaning is supposed to be between 18-24+ months. It's supposed to be gradual.

On matters like this, I always go back and forth. He did just wake up one morning and stop nursing, so that's not gradual. But he was only nursing before nap and bedtime for months and was totally happy to go down without me when I wasn't there, so that's gradual.

He was very irritable in the weeks following. He so clearly wanted to be close to me. Would crawl into my lap whining and burying his head into me, but not that close...

If I offered to to nurse him - He'd cry. Or bite me. Or run away from me. Or smile and laugh at me.

The truth is I was completely unprepared and scared of weaning. There is quite a dramatic hormonal shift after weaning and I haven't been at that baseline since September 2011. What will it bring for my MS?

For the past 4 years, I've played the role of self-sacrificer well. "I can't have that medication because I'm nursing" has been my mantra. It's ok if I'm not well-rested because my babies need me. I can't wear those clothes because I can't nurse in them. It has been comfortable for me to defer things I used to do or enjoy in order to do what I thought was best for my kids.

But it has also been a way to distance myself from people. An easy way to disengage. Oh, I need to take a break from this loud party to nurse. It was guaranteed quiet time. An excuse to "selflessly" dismiss myself when I needed a moment. A re-charge.

I've put off a lot of things...Treatments for medical issues. Buying any new clothes. Addressing nagging aches and pains. Planning career moves. Paying attention to any of my needs.

Being myself seems daunting at this point. I thought I'd have more time to slowly move in that direction.  Physically sustaining another person's life through pregnancy and then simultaneously makes you more and less complete. It's a complicated relationship. You have to give up a little bit of yourself to raise young children. They just need so much from you.

Of course, I've been through this weaning journey before.

Zoe was a whole year older. She could talk to me about what upset her. I could tell her soothing words and they mattered. I worried so much that Aleko was too young to express his needs. That I wouldn't know how to comfort him. We found our way though.  Besides some extreme crankiness the first few weeks, he was fine.

He was happy with a hug after a fall, a song before bedtime, a kiss before nap. He was ready.

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