Once again my daughter has surprised me. Truthfully, this is something I have prayed for. And dreaded.
Breastfeeding is such a wonderful thing. It has made me feel so connected to my daughter. The hours that I have spent with her curled around me will always be precious to me. It is the one thing that I can do for her that no one else can.
At her one year well baby check-up last week, her doctor told us that we need to get some meat on those bones, so I have been feeding her more solid foods during the day. In addition, we were given the go ahead to give her cow's milk. The unexpected, although duh, really should have seen it coming, consequence is that she is nursing less. For the last several months, we have had a fairly consistent routine regarding nursing that worked out to between 4-6 feedings a day. However, in recent days, she has refused the breast half the times it was offered to her. I have been pumping when my breasts fill up uncomfortably, but otherwise I am not taking extraordinary measures to keep my supply up. Which is why I am up now. Although she woke upon my return from an evening out with my girlfriends, she did not nurse, and has not awoken at her usual time between 2-3am. My body woke me up, though. So I am sitting in the TV room in the basement pumping and blogging at 4am.
Although there have been many nights where I wished like anything that we had forced the bottle so Neil could get up with her. And times where I wished that I could give her to family to keep for a day or a weekend so Neil and I could have some time just the two of us. I was dedicated to breastfeeding for as long as she wanted, within reason, of course. Much like the thumbsucking, I had anticipated that it would go on for some time. I had committed myself emotionally to its continued presence in our lives.
Now I find myself staring down the W word. I don't even like to say it, I think it is ugly and conjures such unpleasant emotions for me. I am delighted that my girl is doing things at her pace. Truly. But I wasn't ready. Each time she nurses now, and they are fewer and fewer, I look down on her face and try to remember those beginning days when she was so tiny, her mouth a big O as she innately sought out that life-giving substance. I think fondly on those early days when things were so bad, they are my badge of honor. As bad as it was, and it was BAD, I probably wouldn't appreciate how good it became without that.
So here we are, my baby is leaving behind yet another of her baby things and I am forced, again, to accept that time does not stand still.