As of today I am approximately 11 weeks away from initiating the weening process. At AK's 9-month well baby visit, the pediatrician advised me that AK should be transitioned to whole milk when she has her 1-year appointment.
For many women, the thought of this brings on tears. In fact, while infants may begin drinking whole milk around the one-year mark, many women continue to nurse before bed or in the evenings until their children are much older. Sometimes this is because the child insists on it, but I would wager to say that a lot of the time it is the mom who doesn't want to give the experience up.
I am not one of those mothers.
There are many different approaches and perspectives on breastfeeding even among those that take on the task. (There are many reasons people choose not to breastfeed, I blogged on this topic before and won't rehash). For example, a woman I share my office lactation room with also exclusively gives her son breastmilk (in addition to solids, etc.). However, she only nurses him once a day. Even when she is with him, she pumps and gives him a bottle. It is more important to her that her production levels stay consistent so she can nurse as long as she wants, than to feed him directly at her breast.
I nurse for the convenience. And for the cost savings. But most of all, I nurse for the bond. There is nothing quite like looking down and watching a well latched on baby eat (at least after the first six weeks and the pain subsides) and knowing that you are providing her with nourishment. It feels amazing. It is empowering. It makes you feel strong and womanly. At times it also makes you feel like a cow. Like a slave. Like your body is not your own.
Don't get me wrong, I relish the time I have spent (and continue to spend) nursing AK. But I am also hopeful that she will take to whole milk as easily as LP did back in the day (please, please, please pray for me) and she will be off of the boob by the time her first birthday rolls around. Sure, I will miss seeing her suckle, but I can still hold her close. I am still the person primarily responsible for satiating her thirst and hunger (if you don't count LP plying her with Cheerios and cheese). I am still her mom.
But I will also be a free woman. A woman who will be able to go an overnight trip without her children.