Nursing Delaney has, of course, changed over the last few months. What was a second-nature, routine occurance--about 6-8 times a day, for about 30 minutes at a time--is now a clumsy attempt on my part to keep her at the breast for more than 30 seconds at a time. At nine-and-a-half months, she has too many interests, too many distractions (even in a dark room!) to spend more than five to ten minutes on the breast at any given time. And, I spend the majority of those minutes trying to get Delaney to sit back down and eat. Sometimes I wonder if she's getting enough milk. She's a little small for her age--in the 25th percentile for weight. Her ped isn't concerned as long as she gains weight between now and her 12-month check up. Still, it concerns me.
Nursing used to be our quiet, intimate time together. Now, it's more like a three-ring circus and I'm the clueless, out-of-breath ring master trying to reign in the new lion. We begin and Delaney lays across my lap to nurse. She sips twice, sits up looks around, claps and then goes back to the breast for another drink. Once she's had it, she pops back up, tries to climb over me and the chair to see what might be on the floor. I gently swing her back up and around to the breast, asking her, "Where's the milk?" She hungrily attacks and slurps a few more times before sitting up to point at the light or the fan or her toys. And, we continue like this until her interest in nursing depletes for that session.
Even though I feel frustrated that she won't stay at the breast, she's adorable because she's so interested in everything. I love that she's so curious and excited, but sometimes I wish she'd just chill out and eat for a while. I read in one of my many reference books that babies sometimes start to self-wean around 9-12 months. If she's ready, I need to be OK with that (other than the fact that she is allergic to milk and has never had formula, so I have no idea what she would drink!) but I'm not sure I know how to be. I love nursing Delaney (acrobatics included) and saying goodbye to that special time we spend several times each day would be difficult.
A passage in the book reads, "And, you, too will survive this monumental moment in mothering--though you'll probably continue to experience pangs when you watch other mothers nurse, even years later."
Just reading that was enough to bring me to tears. So yes, seeing other mothers nurse once we've weaned will probably bring pangs for years to come, decades even. But, I need to remind myself that whenever it is that Delaney's ready to wean, it will only be one of the many beautiful and important stages of change that demonstrate her growth towards independence. At nine months, as she was from birth until now, she's a flowering vine, blossoming before our eyes, opening petal by tiny petal. Reaching, extending, yearning to grow. It's our job (mine and her Dad's) to encourage her, witness it and love her all that we can.