Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It's Time to Wean Her and I'm a Wiener

My friend Kate and I were having a really lovely time at the park the other day. The baby was wearing a sweet little pink outfit and was walking her adorable little drunken toddler walk and her precious curls were blowing in the breeze. We talked about how big she was getting and how she wasn’t really a baby anymore. Kate sighed and said: “It’s moments like these when you want another one, huh?”

I raised one eyebrow and said: “Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea how much my tits hurt?”

That statement is not as whacktacular is it may seem. In two weeks, she’ll be 18 months old and I am still nursing her. I’m trying to wean her but truthfully, it’s not going well. She is very strong-willed and very cute. She is also the youngest of three who gets her favorite thing -- my undivided attention -- when she is nursing. So she is not ready to stop. And maybe, on some level, neither am I. Then I consider the fact that I average 4-5 hours of sleep per night in increments of 2 hours and I think “HELL to the NAH, I am done done done-itty DONE.”

Let’s pause for a moment because at this point many of you are probably in one of two camps:
Camp 1: The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for two years. You need to keep going, Lydia – for her sake…
Camp 2: Hey Crazy, why not keep nursing her until she starts school? Because that’s not gross and weird!

Let me tell you a quick story about why I am in neither Camp 1 or 2. One of my best friends tried for two months to breastfeed and it was a disaster – mastitis, baby not gaining weight and crying all the time, guilt, feelings of failure – a total nightmare of pain and suffering. She felt terrible about it then and even now, five years later, still doesn’t like to talk about it. And the worst part is – at the time, she wouldn’t discuss it with me. Why? Because she had taken so much crap from other women about her decision to finally just bottle feed. She felt too fragile to hear that kind of judgment from me, so she just wouldn’t talk about it.

I felt like such a jackhole. She felt like the bad mom? She is so much better at parenting than I will ever be – patient and warm but also really great about setting boundaries and rules. And it comes naturally to her, whereas I have to struggle with all of it. I have to read books and do deep breathing so I won’t lose my schmidt every fifteen minutes. Her kids speak multiple languages and are unfailingly polite and funny. Mine take off their clothes and run around screaming. And that’s at church.

So I decided right then and there that I was never going to judge someone about breastfeeding. Even though I took a lot of crap from people for breastfeeding my kids past one year. I am not some sort of feral, gypsy, she-wolf (not the Shakira kind) who randomly discusses lactation in loud and strident tones with strangers. It’s my business. So don’t judge me and heifer, just leave me alone.

OK – technically YES, I am the heifer in this scenario, but still...

I have breastfed my three kids for a combined total of 48 months. Add to that 30 months of pregnancy (because 40 weeks is NOT nine months people, do the damn math). What do you get? 78 months - or six and a half years (since 2002) - of having my body serve as a food source for my offspring.

Oh dear God. Maybe I am a feral, gypsy she-wolf.  Help. I must wean this baby.

There are several pressing reasons why this must occur as soon as possible.

Reason 1: I need sleep. I need sleep so very, very much. If that little bugger thinks there is any chance at all she might get some boobage in the middle of the night, she will wake up and scream her head off until she gets it. I just can't take it anymore. And truly, she has to learn to be a good sleeper for her sake as well as mine. How can I be so sure that if she stops nursing she’ll sleep better? Because this is not my first rodeo. The other ones both slept through the night only after they had been weaned.

Reason 2: I waited until cold and flu season was over. She has about a thousand teeth already, so she's neither teething nor due to cut more teeth for a little while. She's getting big and kid-like and less babyish all the time. No one is sick and her ears seem just fine. Also, in the past week she has started to nurse wrong. And it hurts like a bastard. It's less like nursing and more like chewing. So, people -- the time is ripe.

Reason 3: Some people claim that nursing helps them lose weight. That is not the case with me. My body holds onto extra weight when I'm breastfeeding. And I get horrific hunger cravings that turn me into the Incredible Hulk about to rip the door off the fridge. I can not express to you how badly I need to lose weight. Every time I look in the mirror, I throw up a little in my mouth. I am starting to look like Jabba the Hut and it's not even funny.

Reason 4: I can not take the random and repeated requests for nursing in public anymore. I have no issue with mommies breast-feeding in public (in fact, rock on, mommas!) as long as those mommas are not me. And Mini-mini-me can sort of talk. More precisely, the kid can make herself understood. Grabbing at my shirt and piteously crying "Momma! Nuse!" while smacking her lips sends a pretty unambiguous message. I refuse to do it this summer at the pool in front of throngs of scantily-clad teenagers who could be potential baby-sitters but are instead nauseated to the point of vomiting at the sight of my exposed mid-section as I fight the baby to stop her from showing my boobs to the entire pool.

Reason 5: No discussion of breastfeeding and weaning would be complete without a mention of the actual apparatus. I am so ready for my boobies to go from three squares a day to second base. I know they will look horrendous but I don’t care. I want them back. I want them to revert to a regular size (that does not change every few hours) so that I can reward myself with a couple of killer bras.

You see there is an old-fashioned lingerie store one town over, complete with old ladies sporting tape measures around their necks feeling you up in public and then charging you $50 for a bra. But the bras… They have, like German engineering. They can make even my deflated Hindenburgs look nice again. So when the baby is weaned, that is how I am going to reward myself – by letting an old lady with a tape measure get to second base and over-charge me for foundation wear. And I can’t freaking wait. My boobs may be used but they are going to be magnificent (!) and gilded and fierce.  Like Xena.

But I need a plan. Because what I’ve been doing so far isn’t working. I have to do this and I have to do it quickly. I've done it twice before and surprisingly, it wasn't hard - the other two sort of weaned themselves and they made it pretty easy. But this kid does not want to stop. And she is going to cry and I hate to make my children cry. Especially her. And she shares a room with her big sister so if she decides to scream all night as I deny her boob-time, I will have not one but two little Madames to contend with the next day. I need to be hard core even though she is so little and sweet.

This is my public pledge: "Starting tomorrow, I will make every effort possible to humanely but expeditiously wean my baby small toddler. I will reclaim my boobs for Mom-kind and then house them in a gravity-defying bra of awesomeness."

Starting tomorrow because I am such a wiener that I don't think I can do it tonight. I'm too tired to fight this battle. But tomorrow? Even yesser. It's going to be ON like Donkey Kong, little baby. These jugs are going to belong to me again and in the very near future, I'm going to put on my big girl pants and not give in and I'm going to be done.

(in tiny mouse voice) Wish me luck. It's going to suck. Or not suck as the case may be.

xo, Lydia

PS: Just a quick note. We've never had a problem with meanness here in MommyLand but breastfeeding gets people all riled up so there is the one rule for commenting on this post: Be nice or take your boobs and go home.

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