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My Independence Day: Weaning My Daughter from Breastfeeding

Mother breast feeding baby

As everyone counts the days towards celebrating another year of American Independence and a long weekend with fireworks and barbecues, I am counting the days until my own independence day. It is a bittersweet time for me. While I am inspired by my daughter’s ongoing learning and development, I am also a little saddened by how fast time has lapsed. One year ago, she was one month old and learning how to sleep through the night. Now, she is thirteen months and is learning to stand. In a few more months, she will be running. But there is hope. Hope lies in independence for a mommy and her daughter: freedom for the breasts for me and freedom to eat new foods for her.

Freedom for the breasts (For me)

For over a year now, my breasts have not belonged to me, but to my daughter, Ilse.  They have been her primary food source and drink source for the better part of the last year. I have lovingly referred to myself as my child’s cow, as I’ve been her primary milk provider.  My wardrobe choices and purchases have centered around baby accessibility. Does the blouse/dress/bra give my hungry child quick access to her food source? Can I easily open (discreetly) the blouse/dress/bra when I need to pump milk? I’ve taken my breast pump with me every day to work and on a short business trip. Now, it’s time for my breasts to be free. Free from the cracking, soreness from her gleeful eating. Free from grimacing every time her new teeth clamp down on my breast like a shark biting on a human leg. Free to wear complicated, fitted blouses with sexy bras that don’t need to unsnap at the front. Now that my daughter has turned one-year-old, we have begun weaning her from the breast for all her beverage and food needs. In the last month, we have pared down her breastfeeding to three times a day. She drinks cold whole milk or cold water in a Sippy cup with a straw. Rather than pump two to three times per day, I pump just once a day. I will always be proud and thankful that I’ve been able to breastfeed for her first year of life, but I am looking forward to reclaiming my breasts. I’m sure my husband does too.

Freedom to eat (For her)

We took our first family trip to Disneyland last month for our Ilse’s first birthday. Of all the wonderful memories we made, the most memorable time of all was watching Ilse try new foods and devour them. She ate pancakes, churros, and macaroni & cheese. Not the liquefied versions from her Gerber jars, the real things cut into tiny pieces. Ilse enjoyed them, licking her fingers to savor every last morsel. Now that Ilse is one, she is free to try the adult foods she has seen everyone eat in front of her. And taste foods that peak her curiosity, like peas or yellow cake, even if she doesn’t like them. Allergenic foods, like strawberries and honey, are fair game, within reason.  Our little family of three can now eat the same meal. A cost savings!

Thus, the journey towards my breast freedom continues. Our family goal is to free my breasts before the end of summer. Ilse’s journey to eating new foods continues. I can’t wait for her to try a cold watermelon slice on a hot day. Our respective freedoms are intertwined. This Fourth of July, I will not only be thankful for the larger freedoms set forth by our nation’s leaders, but also for the small freedoms that life gives to me and to Ilse. 

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