Just barely into the second trimester of my second pregnancy, I am already feeling the pull between my sixteen month old daughter, and the wee one still in utero. I expected a little competition between siblings, and an adjustment period…I just thought it would happen after I gave birth.
My doctor told me at my last prenatal check-up that I should work on weaning my daughter off of breastfeeding. And while I knew the time had to come eventually, it’s been harder than I expected – on both of us.
I realize that different doctors have different philosophies on breastfeeding while pregnant. But I fully trust my OB/GYN, and didn’t argue. Truth be told, I was feeling so physically drained at trying to nourish a growing baby, myself and a toddler that I’m confident it was sound advice for me.
But like I said, there’s nothing easy about this process. I’m chalking it up to (yet another) one of those things that people don’t tell you about being a parent. Separation, on any level but particularly a nursing one for me, is really difficult. My daughter would nurse five times a day if I let her; and she’s just feisty and cunning enough that she tries to sneak a nibble in when she’s cuddling with me and thinks I won’t notice. I used to give in, but now I can’t.
I have her brother or sister to think about.
While my toddler has a plethora of choices for nourishment, my growing baby does not. He or she gets what I give, and being a work-at-home parent who isn’t the best about planning meals, well, I’ll admit that I could probably give more.
Being pregnant with number two has made me realize how self-absorbed I was during my first pregnancy. I painstakingly read my daily email updates, consulted books and blogs and monitored every aspect of my growing body. Balancing two children seemed far in the distance. But now, I have more to think about than me. I have more reasons to be healthy.
My toddler is down to one feeding a day, just before bedtime. In the weeks I’ve been steadily decreasing feedings I’ve already noticed a dramatic new bulge in my belly. Have I chosen one child over the other? I don’t think so. I think my choice to wean was a matter of doing what was best for the needs of both of my children.
Breastfeeding had become more of a comfort than nutrition to my daughter – and it’s a comfort to me as well. I think we both cherish the closeness and comfort that comes with it, and didn’t think beyond that. I’ve had to think of other ways to share a close bond with her, and I’ve realized it’s not so hard. We will still be close, still have a special bond.
And so over the next few days I will slowly eliminate that last, cozy, nighttime nurse from our routine, and say goodbye to another little piece of my daughter’s infancy. But I also welcome the chance to give more to her growing sibling, and form a new, entirely different bond with each of my amazing, precious children.