Tuesday, April 09, 2013

when nature decides

The past week has reminded me, with such clarity, that we are nature.

When Poet came down with a fever a few weeks ago she fed like a newborn. Day and night she would cuddle in and I, with all my concern and anxiety, obliged every feed. Our sleep was feverish and our days long, but by last Tuesday afternoon she was on the mend and I exhaled. Finally.

The next morning it was my turn and over the following days I shivered and burned, cringed as I swallowed and wished myself better. In the midst of it I accepted that the gradual, controlled weaning process I had planned was not meant to be. 

My body had decided that it just couldn't do it anymore and with a strange mix of relief and grief, I started to say no to Poet's requests. On Sunday night I lay in bed and listened to her pit-pat her way around the house instead of lying next to me. Every time she came into the room she would smile, ask for milk, and sob when I said no. "Milky's gone." Eventually she surrendered and came to lie down, but she wouldn't cuddle in, nor would she share my pillow. 

Instead of feeding her, I sang to her; nursery rhymes with a made-up line every now and then. When we got to twinkle twinkle she stopped crying, cuddled in, and started to fall asleep. Which is when I fumbled my way through the second verse and soaked the crown of her head with my tears.

It was over, just like that. The baby becomes the little girl.

The final breastfeed is such a pivotal "cutting of the cord" moment and this time, whilst I struggled with the fact that I wasn't in control, I found comfort in the natural progression that was occurring. Much like pregnancy and birth, the breastfeeding journey is beautiful, challenging, tiring and joyous. It requires so much from the mama; gratitude, acceptance, patience and, most importantly, the ability to surrender. 

Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high, 
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

photo: breastfeeding poet (13months) on a wild beach in Gerroa, captured by tim


71 COMMENTS

  1. Beautiful Jodi. You did such an amazing job of breastfeeding and of helping Poet through the end.

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  2. One of my babies self-weaned at 5 months and I remember being so shocked that it was over, just like that. I tried everything to get her to come back. Now, of course, I wonder what all the fuss was about. x

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  3. Thanks so much for your beautiful writing! Makes me tearily remember the weaning my own little girl and how I sometimes miss the intimacy we shared back then, and how I love the little girl she is now.

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  4. It's amazing you were able to provide her with all those goodies that have helped her grow. I didn't think I would enjoy breastfeeding, I had mixed feelings. But now i'm so glad I am privileged enough to have that special time with my little girl. Glad you are both on the mend. Rest up and drink lots of lemon and honey tea.

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  5. My daughter's only 5 months and although I won't be weaning for a while yet, I'm already dreading it. It will be nice to have my body back, but you put it perfectly with "cutting of the cord". I imagine it's very sad to say goodbye to that closeness and dependence, but it's also amazing to see them go from baby to child. I'm sure it's harder on us mothers than our babes!

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  6. It can be so hard to embrace this natural progression. I always had a difficult time, especially with my youngest because I know she is our last. But there are so many wonderful steps ahead. New times to embrace.
    Beautifully written.
    xo

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  7. Oh what a beautiful post. It brings back floods of emotion when my baby weaned herself. I miss breastfeeding, but it was still a relief to end.

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  8. I too have a 5 month old daughter, my 3rd baby. It's going to be a big day when I / she weans. I weaned my eldest as we wanted to conceive again so I was ready for that. My second just stopped at 12 months. That was really hard. It's emotional and hormonal so my heart goes out to you.

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  9. aww this story is so sweet. I am just about to start breast feeding and it reminds me of what a sweet process it will be

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  10. A tricky time, but high fives for a job well done. I hope you're on the mend, and best wishes for he next bit. When I weaned my eldest son at 19 months, the month that followed was one of very intense mood swings - I've heard that this is often experienced after weaning. Was it so with Che? Wishing you peaceful times ahead.

    By the way, thanks for including the full 3 verses of twinkle twinkle! I can never remember the third verse!

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  11. My little one is going to be one in a few days and since my older one weaned around 13 months I have been dreading weaning...I wasn't ready for it last time and I surely am not ready for it this time especially since this is likely our last child. You captured is so well in comparing it to the journeys of pregnancy and birth...joyous and tiring at the same time. Enjoy those cuddles!

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  12. OH, this brought tears to my eyes! It is the hardest thing in the world to wean, I think! You put it so rightly. And reading that second verse of Twinkle Twinkle brought more tears! So fleeting is their babyhood!

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  13. I had grand dreams to keep my first born son on the boob until 12 months, if not longer. But he refused to eat solids and was a hungry hungry boy so I started supplementing with formula. As soon as he discovered that the bottle never ran out, unlike his milky friends, he soon rejected the boob. I remember the last feed, well it wasn't actually the last feed but the last time I attempted. One morning, I went to feed him as usual and rather than take the boob he slapped it away and burst into tears and that was that. He had weaned himself.

    My daughter is different. I have never been able to get her to take the bottle. the stubborn little thing just refuses. she is now 11 month and I really feel like I am drying up. We are going overseas next month so hopefully i can last until the end of that trip.

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  14. oh it's sad! I weaned at 19 months because of morning sickness, otherwise i reckon we'd still be going now at 26 months. I found it went much more smoothly than i had feared, and i definitely got more cuddles to replace the feeds. x

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  15. well done mumma, an amazing job done again. you've taken care of your own needs as well as considering your girls. thats the sort of thing that i believe shows our children we have respect for ourselves in turn teaching them to give themselves the grace to put their own needs first at times. too often as mums we are martyrs and end up over stretched and not enjoying our special job. I admire how you handled this.

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  16. My firstborn weaned herself at 11 months. We went from 6 - 8 feeds a day to nothing. It was so hard. My last two feed until they were around three. I breastfed for six years continuosly. In the end I had to wean Louis because I don't think he was ever ready to give up. I still found it hard though....

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  17. Hey, this is such a nice account of you journey! I continued to feed my little man through a couple of surgeries. I should have called a halt to it, but I-stubbornly, stupidly- couldn't. But it all worked out in the end, as it always does! And, have fun getting dressed next time you go out- yay to no more clicky bras! ;)sarah

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    1. yay to new bras - I'm going to splurge!!!! x

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  18. I remember weaning my first at 19months, I know I cried more than she did. My second is 5months, and some days I can't wait to be finished breastfeeding, other days the thought of her not needing it makes me so sad.
    But yes, new bras and being able to wear dresses again! Yes!

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  19. What a beautiful post. My 'babies' are now four and a half and two and a half, and they both self weaned at the same time at about 20 months. Lately, they have been asking me for milk again. I wonder if it's nostalgia, or the fact we've got some newborns around us, or simply that I've been showing my cleavage a bit more than normal! Enjoy discovering ways to stare at your Poet from a greater distance...

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  20. Thank you for sharing jodi. this reminds me so much of the post i wrote about weaning indigo (and north!). It was so bitter sweet but there is always that crossroad waiting. Such a beautiful reminder as I am mentally getting ready for breastfeeding on demand again and sighing goodbye to my newfound sense of freedom and independence (however slight). A beautiful reminder to treasure and cherish those moments between you while they happen. They are so fleeting. Hope you're on the mend. Happy belated birthday! What a huge couple weeks you have had! Continue to take it slow. xx m.

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  21. That last paragraph is beautiful :)

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  22. Oh, how I just cried reading this. xo

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  23. relief and grief is right. the breastfeeding gig is so much more emotional than I thought it would be (and so much more so than it was the first time around, 15 odd years ago). x

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  24. I understand your feelings so well. I have been thinking of you and Poet quite a bit this last couple weeks.....hoping all would be well. Now, you enter into a new kind of relationship with Poet that will be different but just as sweet. <3

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  25. Your words rang true for me as I finished breast feeding Noah. However I was not the one that said no, it was Noah that began to pull away and then one day he just stopped. I still miss it so much but now I give him a bottle of warm cows milk at night and he snuggles in while I sing him lullabys.
    Ellen xx

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  26. You captured the experience so beautifully... brings sweet tears of remembrance from me. I feared in weaning my third earlier then planned that i would not get as much cuddle time with him as I did my first two, but that has not been the case at all. My heart still melts when he reaches up and exclaims "Hold me."

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  27. Gosh what a big couple of week s you have had :( I'm glad poet has come back for her mummy cuddles despite it not including milk. I too have had a severe throat infection, and ended up in emergency of Sunday night needing IV fluids and lots of meds. Lucky just a few hour stay, I was just so dehydrated from physically not being able to swallow. Unfortunately my milk supply has dramatically decreased, so working hard on that for Miss Indi, but it's not easy when its hard to get much into yourself. She has had numerous bottle the past few days, but thankfully at almost 9months, so is still looking for her mummy milk.
    Rest up, thinking of you xxx

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  28. I was so sad when Olive finally weaned. (We weaned each other, really.) But that bond lives on, which is so amazing. And independence (for both of you) is an empowering thing, too. Enjoy! Kellie xx

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  29. I am in tears now just reading this, Jodi. I completely understand. My last feed with Angélique, almost two years ago, was my very last feed ever! I knew, aged 42, I would be stopping at three glorious children.

    A chapter closed, completely. But as a very wise friend whispered at the time, another one opened and there have been no regrets.

    I hope you are feeling stronger and healthier with every passing day.

    Stephanie

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  30. oh my goodness i have tears dropping into my morning coffee here Jodi! 2 of my 3 babes stopped breastfeeding due to unexpected things happening. twice i found myself leaving my breastfeeding journey with no fanfare, no plans, no goodbye, twice life and nature brought a halt and it was gone. I am there again now reading this and i am so very thankful for that time i had and so nostalgic for it i cannot help the tears! xxxxxx

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  31. These are such beautiful words. I shall never think of Twinkle little star quite the same again.

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  32. This is so touching, I'm loving breastfeeding my little olive so much. All three of my boys stopped at different times, but all three had that same mix of emotions - sadness, relief, guilt and joy for what was such a wonderful experience while it lasted..x

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  33. A few weeks ago I unexpectedly spent a week in hospital with meningitis and my 16 month breastfeeding journey with Gus was forced to an end. Emotionally it took it's toll. I had no idea our last feed was going to be our last but what killed me (and will forever) was not being there to comfort him in another way. Hope you two are on the mend x

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    1. Oh Jess, that's so tough. I hope you find peace with what happened soon, so soon x

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  34. Oh this post brings back the same feelings of grief that I had when my milk just stopped...at work I often have to go for eight hours without any break for food or water and obviously once I returned to work and had a few of these long days, my body just said no. In retrospect I should have expected it but at the time I was deeply saddened and felt terribly guilty.
    Although I was not ready to for it to end, I consider myself lucky that I had such a wonderful breastfeeding journey.

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  35. umm jodi, you've got this pregnant woman crying.

    xxx em

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  36. I had to stop in a hurry due to a bout of sickness too. I get a bit sad thinking about it, but I just feel ridiculously privileged to have been able to nurse both of my girls. It is weird when they are on the other side and they have no memory of it all...especially as it used to be all we did together for so long! Onwards and upwards, eh! (except for the poor old mammaries. Mine are not going 'upwards' any time soon ;)

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  37. Oh sweet lady how this resonates. My angel boy Remy self weaned a few months back and the emotions are so overwhelming. Your body has surrended to and for your Poet. It is time for Mumma to rejuvenate. Hope your week is beautiful :) x

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  38. I almost cried while reading this...so sweet and so true. I am expecting my third child, it's with mixed feeling of anxiety and joy that I am welcoming this new little life in the world, this will most probably be my last baby and I already feel nostalgic:)

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  39. Lovely moving post. I had to wean my first child at four months due to severe allergies to my breast milk. It was devastating and very difficult emotionally. Seeing him thrive in the months after on his formula made the heartache easier and when I got to feed my little girl until 15 months i was the happiest mother in the world. She unceremoniously dumped me for books and neither of us were the slightest bit traumatised. Hope this phase of illness and forced change smooth over quickly for you both. mel x

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  40. It's so bittersweet. On one hand I am totally ready to be done and on the other I mourn the loss of that part of the relationship.

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  41. I completely agree with your words and my heart goes out to you in this time of transition.

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  42. Lovely post and beautiful photo.
    xo green gable

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  43. Wow. I don't think I would have the courage to do that. At least not now. It's a good thing that you took this to a whole new level. Poet is a big girl now. It's an opportunity to celebrate!

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  44. I wasn't able to nurse my twin boys and possibly won't be able to nurse my little girl on the way but nevertheless my heart seems to understand your tears, sorrow, relief, and acceptance.

    xo
    cortnie

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  45. Oh my goodness this totally made me tear up =) So sweet and genuine.

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  46. Yep, this one was a year jerker - I weaned my son at 2 1/4, he's now 3 1/2, and still often he says "really, there's no milk? why?". He tells us that not even ice cream is as nice a "booba milk".

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  47. I felt this so much & 16 years on(my youngest is 17) I remember the heartache when I stopped feeding.

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  48. It's tough to lose them as babies, but so great to gain the little person they come out of it as.

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  49. I sit and wonder when Squeak will be done. She is gradually reducing her want for booby time so it will be interesting to see when she decides she has had enough (she is newly 3)

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  50. Incredibly beautiful, Jodi. I have just began my breastfeeding journey and enjoying every moment while it lasts. xx

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  51. So beautiful. And that last feed is an emotional one. But we don't always know when it will be. Hugs to you, and I hope you feel better soon too. x

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  52. I read this post the other day on my phone and since then I've been thinking about it and meaning to comment. This post was just beautiful! My first little one is just three months old and I already get sad thinking about how one day she won't breastfeed anymore. So, needless to say, this was a total tearjerker. Thank you for sharing this moment!

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  54. This post is so beautiful Jodi. My twins are now 17 months and so obsessed with my boobs that I wonder how I will ever stop breastfeeding them. Part of me is desperate for my body back, but there is another part that can't bare the thought of letting go of the incredible intimacy of it. But I guess when the time is right I will know. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful cutting of the cord.

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  55. You were one of the first people to comment on my blog & it was on a post where my little man was weaned & your comment soothed me so I find it fitting to post it here: "Oh gosh, so hard. I remember all-of-a-sudden feeling like my baby had grown up. You will feel better about it soon, I promise (and you'll have so much extra energy!) x " -- Thank you for being a blessing in my life when I needed it & I pray that this will be a time of blessing for you & your sweet monkeys.
    loads of love,
    Heidi

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  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  57. I don't know if I will ever be able to sing twinkle twinkle little star without choking up now! Good thing my Elsie is still so little, I don't have to think about such things at the moment.
    Thank you for sharing all your beautifulness here!

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  58. this is the sweetest post with the sweetest photo to match. xo

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  59. Oh Jodi, you're such an insightful and loving muma.

    I have found the letting go of breastfeeding more challenging and emotional than letting go required in conception, pregnancy and birth...so I was very moved and reassured by your story. I've noticed that for me, I become quite ready to end breastfeeding when I get an inkling that another little soul wants to come through :)

    I wish you much peace through this transition...

    x

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    1. Oh goodness, another little one - perhaps in a little while, but not right now x

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  60. I keep coming back to this incredible photograph. It is just truly beautiful. I wish so much I had a photo breast feeding my babies like this! Thanks again for sharing it. Sonia x

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  61. This really resonates with me. My younger daughter, Amaya, is about the same age as Poet and we have begun the weaning process. I have so many mixed emotions, relief, anxiety, grief, you've said it so well and I am in tears reading this post. It's so hard to surrender to this change, maybe because we do have to take part in making it happen and saying no to that sweet face is so hard. Thank you for sharing X

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  62. I really impress from your blog amazing blog thanks to share .
    Home Painter

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  63. That's a beautiful and sad story... my little girl is a bit over 2 and she is still nursing. I know my body is exhausted (from having nursed non-stop for the pas 4 and a half years), but I just don't have the courage to say no right now.

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