It looks like Bumby has weaned. Not to sound braggy, or jinx myself or anything, but our breastfeeding relationship was pretty much exactly what I wanted for us. Although I think this was the right time for it to be over, I am still a bit sad. This is how it went for us:
3 seconds in: I haven’t really even processed yet that Bumby is born, and a boy, when he is flopped onto my bare chest. He wiggles around. Amazingly, he can lift up his own head. I think that he looks like a small turtle, lying there on his tummy with his head bobbing around. The first thing he does is nurse, before he even looks at me.
2 weeks in: I literally hit my wife in the face for having the nerve to be SLEEPING, when some of us are trying to BREASTFEED, with tears streaming down my face from the pain. We weren’t doing it right, but I didn’t know how to fix it.
4 weeks in: I read the La Leche League book and find the forum. I learn to let Bumby take the lead (i.e., I ignore the advice of the nurse in the hospital to force it) and it becomes more comfortable. I start to relax. It’s tolerable. I think I will make it to 3 months, then quit.
6 weeks in: I get thrush, which I have heard called “athletes foot of the boob.” This is a pretty accurate description of what it feels like. There is no sleeping, and I have to go to some weird pharmacy on Long Island to get the specific ointment that my hippie OB has prescribed for us. It works, and the thrush goes away, but not before I ignore, in an exhausted daze, the fact that a pipe has burst behind our house and we have a water bill over $1,000 because water has been pouring out inside of our back wall for days. Oops.
Five months in: I am still, magically, gloriously, on maternity leave. It is sunny and hot. It is June. We have gone to the farmer’s market, Bumby in the Ergo. We took the dog on a long nature trail walk, and go home. I lie on the bed and nurse Bumby while simultaneously eating farmers market strawberries. I think that having a baby is the greatest. Being a mom is the greatest. This is just how it should be. We take a nap with the windows open and the warm breeze blowing. He still won’t sleep unless he is on top of me, so I take full advantage of this and nap with him every single day.
A year in: He stops taking bottles. I still pump religiously, but the amount he will drink drops and drops. He has never wanted freezer milk, but would tolerate refrigerator milk until now. I finally taste it and realize it tastes AWFUL. Probably I have high lipase or something, but Bumby is such a hungry guy that he just drank the bottles anyway while I was at work. I continue to pump, even though I change jobs and have to go down to a weird little room because my office has glass walls. I dump the nasty tasting milk down the drain. He stays nice and fat, nursing when I am home and eating food when I am not.
18 months in: We nurse only in the morning, at naptime if I am home, and at bedtime. While I nurse him, I sing. His favorite is Baby Beluga. He has learned to talk, and calls nursing, or breasts, or milk, or anything associated therewith “Maka.” He says “Maka mama. That maka all done. Switch maka. Maka maka moo moo moo.” I tell him it’s not polite to insinuate that your mother is a cow.
Two years in: We drop the bedtime nursing. He doesn’t ask for a couple days, and I don’t offer. One night he says “Maka mama” at bedtime, and I say, “Sorry Bumbs. We don’t do maka at bedtime anymore. You can have maka in the morning.” He says okay, and we sing and rock in the chair. I am surprised that he doesn’t cry, but he doesn’t.
Two years, two months in: My grandfather is dying. I have never been away from Bumby overnight before, but I leave for Michigan without a thought. I learn that he is dying, and two hours later I am sitting on a flight. Bumby only nurses in the morning now, but halfway through the 5 days I am in Michigan caring for my grandfather, I realize I am painfully engorged, although it has taken more than two full days to get here. I take a hot shower and hand express. I am surprised how much milk there still is. When I get home, I ask Bumby if Mommy took good care of him. He frowns at me and says, “Mommy doesn’t know Baby Beluga.” Otherwise, it seems things went just fine. I tell her she better listen to the Raffi album a bit more in case I need to travel again.
Two years, three months in: Bumby still nurses in the morning. Mommy gets him from his bed and he crawls in our bed with me, snuggles up, and says “Maka maka moo moo moo. PUH-LEEZE.” He is working on being a “polite young man.” If I happen to be up already when he wakes up, he is usually too distracted to nurse, but goes right back to it the next day.
Two years, four months in: Bumby gets a double ear infection. He naps longer during the day, fusses all night, and sleeps in, while we battle his 105 fever. We can’t let it spike, or we risk another seizure and another trip to the ER. We set our alarm and alternate Tylenol, Motrin, Tylenol, Motrin, all day and all night. Even though I feel like a zombie, I am always awake before him in the morning, and he doesn’t nurse those days. One day, before his nap, we sit down to sing in the rocking chair, and he says, “Maka mama. Naptime maka.” I say okay, and it takes me longer to sing Baby Beluga than it takes him to nurse. A few days later, he is well again, and up before me. He snuggles into bed and says, “Maka maka moo moo moo. Please.” He tries to nurse, then frowns at me and says, “That maka all gone. Let’s go downstairs and PLAY!” He doesn’t ask again.