It happened. The Monkey flat-out refused to nurse this morning. I’ve known that the day was coming, but it still broke my heart. After nearly a year of experiencing that sweet bond that only a mother and her child can have, I know now that my days really are numbered. She nursed several other times later in the day, but the early morning shunning was a heart-breaker. I hate pulling out my pump on the weekend, but there was no other way I was going to get any relief this morning. My sweet baby opted for pancakes with homemade mixed berry syrup instead of spending 10 minutes snuggling with mommy.
The thing is that I’ve known this day would come. After she bit me and drew blood a few months ago, I joked that she was only going to get a year – if that. It was pretty much day-by-day for awhile. She has since sprouted 2 more teeth (for a total of 8) but we’ve found a nice equilibrium where I nurse her until she starts acting frantic/exhausted. At that point, I put her to bed, give her a sippy cup of water or juice, or grab a quick snack.
I’m not quite sure why I feel so conflicted. I recently started reducing the frequency of feedings (i.e. pumping sessions). And I was thrilled beyond belief when the Monkey slept through the night five nights in a row. I want my body back and have been looking longingly at the rest of my wardrobe – you know, the dresses and slim-fit shirts that are impractical when you may have to feed or pump every few hours.
But I still love the closeness and the one-on-one time nursing provides. And since I nursed her older sister for 18 months, part of me feels that the Monkey’s getting the short end of the stick yet again. She not only gets second-hand clothes, toys and bedding, but she also gets less – if any - routine alone time with mommy and daddy, and fewer months nursing. I realize (and have told many others) that every child is different and that you can’t treat kids the same, but this is one area where I really hoped I could give each of my girls the same thing. What I didn’t count on, though, was that the Monkey would come out weighing one and a half pounds more than her sister or that she’d have eight teeth by her first birthday! The Squid had less than that when I stopped nursing her at 18 months.
I know this isn’t the end of the world. I was able to nurse the Monkey several times throughout the day. And even if she had flat out refused again, I know that I don’t have to worry about her getting enough to eat. The girl is a mini-eating machine who happens to love and adore me. Deep inside, I know that her refusal to nurse is not a rejection of me – it’s a sign that she’s growing up and starting to assert her independence. Right now, though, it still feels like she rejected me.