In many ways, this is a good thing. Nursing is hard work. I've been the all-night diner (to paraphrase the Sears' Breastfeeding Book) for many, many months. I haven't had a good night's sleep in years.
J. was a nursing fanatic. She decided to wean from the bottle (which M. used to give her pumped breast milk on my work days) at around 6 months and wouldn't use a sippy cup until around 16 months. This meant that at the height of summer, she wasn't drinking anything on the days I was at work. Therefore, when she was an all-night nurser, I didn't feel that it was safe to set any limits until she was about a year or so. Weaning finally happened when she was 20 months old, because I was almost four months pregnant with C. and incredibly sick.
C. has been much more easy-going about the whole thing. She was a nursing pro from the get-go. She latched on perfectly in the labor and delivery room, twice. However, she has always been fine with taking a bottle of breast milk. I was SO relieved when it became clear that I wasn't going to be the only option for this one.
But, then that led to it's own problems, I think. Without constant on-demand nursing my supply started to dip when she as around nine or ten months (likely due to my Mirena monkeying with my hormones), and we ended up supplementing with formula. This was so very, very hard for me. I have read pretty much every page of each Mothering Magazine delivered to my mailbox and have been well indoctrinated into the "Breast is Best" mindset. My scientific, critical self as well as my emotional, nurturing self both really do legitimately buy into this, but I have been troubled by the impact of this perspective and campaign on those who can't or chose not to nurse. I've seen several women really struggle with this, and the real pain that results just can't be useful to moms or babies or society at large. Finding Hanna Rosin's article, "The Case Against Breast-Feeding" (which I found, by the way, because of angry critics in Mothering), was really helpful to me. While I don't agree with all that she says, she helped to shed light on much of the rhetoric and politics that surrounds the issue. I found Rosin's perspective a comfort when C. happily sucked down her first bottle of formula. More, though, I saw my baby, who had been a bit cranky for the last week or so, perk up because she was getting enough to eat. The change was needed.
So is this change. Pumping needed to be over. It was making it so I didn't have lunch breaks, couldn't talk to friends or colleagues for any length of time, and was stressing over the lack of milk that the activity was producing. And, I really missed wearing dresses. It was time, but there's still a bit of sadness and regret I feel even now writing this. And it's not really about losing the baby time with my kids--sure that's part of it, but that time is smoothly and delightfully moving into toddler and preschooler time. It's really about my own identity changing and shifting. This body will never be pregnant or nursing again. It will be a comfort and an anchor for my girls for many, many years to come, but I'm really out of the reproducing business. It's good; I don't want to do that anymore, but I spent a lot of time looking towards those experiences and now I don't know exactly what to look forward to in terms of my body's place in my life, in my dreams, in my future. Much more so than when I turned 30, I'm feeling older and uncertain. I'm really glad I love this wardrobe shift because the deeper stuff turns out to be really, pretty complicated.