Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Meaning of Weaning

My baby is now a boy. Little A is one, a toddling, climbing dynamo of energy. A whole year, imagine that? Just 368 days ago I was on an operating table being cut open because after 11 hours of labor, the baby's heart rate indicated that the cord was wrapped around his neck (and over his shoulder, like a parachute harness). 

One year. In that year I got down to my lowest weight ever (87 lbs as of last weighing) without even trying (in fact I have been on a weight gain mission since Little A was 2 months old), learned to appreciate the stay-at-home lifestyle (it's exhausting when you're looking after a baby 24/7) and had one haircut. My wardrobe has consisted of five, yes, five, tops, which, given their nursing openings, can only be worn with a handful of bottoms. I have seriously fallen off the style wagon in the past year.

One year means weaning. I've breastfed my baby longer than most mothers I know, as the average length of time is 6 months. The thing is, most mothers I know have nannies, which means they usually pump their milk and go about their lives (shopping, haircuts, long lunches, travel) while nanny stays home and feeds baby from a bottle. No nanny means no time to spend long stretches attached to a milking machine, and taking your baby with you wherever you go, which, given the circumstances is just the supermarket every two weeks and to the parents or in laws' houses for weekend lunches. No nanny means direct feeding, as who would have the time to wash and sterilise all those bottles when baby is attached to you and knows the food source is right there anyway?

At 6 months, we attempted to get Little A to take a bottle so that at least when we were out in public, I wouldn't have to keep flashing my boobs to the world. He hated it at first, but perseverance meant he would reluctantly accept one, when he felt like it. His bottle of choice? Not the Dr. Browns wide-neck trio we got for a shower present, nor the Tommee Tippees that came free with our steriliser. Not the Nuk bottle that cost a fortune (and thankfully we only bought one of) - my little one liked the slim Marimekko bottle his godmother brought him from Finland as a Christmas present. 

The Finns are way ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to style. Not only do they have fabulous designers of all sorts - architecture, interiors, graphics and fashion - they seem to be more earth-conscious than the rest of us. The bottle not only had lovely Unikko flowers on it, its teat was of a different shape than any other one I'd seen. It was flattish, not round, with an arrow to show which side was the top, as the human mouth is not evenly shaped but has a top bite that goes over the lower one. This teat was as brilliantly designed as anything else that was Finnish. It fit the human mouth perfectly. No wonder Little A thought the others were inferior.

When he had to drink from a bottle, Little A preferred this one. But having only one of these, and a small sized one at that, I had to write his godmother and ask if she could please send over a couple more for his birthday. 

Unlike other babies who wean simply from breastmilk to cow's milk or formula, Little A has the double whammy of having to accept a bottle or a cup AND a different type of milk at the same time. I don't expect it to be easy, and heaved a sigh of relief upon finding out that my parents timed their annual European trip perfectly, leaving two days after his birthday and staying away an entire month. Not only can Little A's godmother send more bottles to London if need be, rather than all the way to Manila, we will have less distractions in the form of grandparents popping in at any time of day to whisk us away for afternoon tea or lunch. While the distractions may actually help the weaning process by taking us away from Little A's familiar environment of home, at least we will be doing things at his pace and time.

In mid-August comes Big A's weeklong holiday, which we will be spending in the mountains as we have done every year since 2003, except for last year when Little A was just born. I hope to have him fully weaned by then, six weeks from now. Let's see how it goes.

No comments: