Last week, without warning or fanfare, Hope stopped nursing. And she didn't look back.
I never had plans to nurse her this long - just shy of two and a half years old. But it worked for us. There were a few times when I thought, "I wonder if I should try to wean her..." but then quickly decided there was no good reason to! Hope was happy - it didn't bother me - we were always together - and, let's be honest, I barely leave the house.
Part of me was very happy to be done. I waited three days before running out to get a brand new, professionally fitted "normal" bra that didn't have trap doors. Yay! And I realized I would no longer have to endure some of the less than glamorous parts of nursing a toddler... like teeth mishaps and elbows and knees to the gut while she was trekking to the other side of the mountain ("mountain" being a gross exaggeration, not that you asked).
But there is a bigger part of me that is wistful. This is a marker. A milestone. A sign that we are moving farther away from baby Hope... and farther away from Gavin. The truth is, Hope was a plan I never had.
As it turns out, the existence of Hope - shocking as it was - wasn't the biggest surprise of all for me. The biggest surprise is how different the experience has been. From the second I saw her perfect little face.
When she was born, she was taken away to the NICU before I could hold her. I wasn't able to breastfeed her - or hold her! - for a couple days. I tried not to panic, but I did fear that it would interfere with bonding and that she would have trouble breastfeeding.
I'll never forget the night the nurse wheeled me up to the NICU to see her. Ed was home with Brian when the nurse offered to take her out of her isolette so I could hold her. It was just me and Hope in the dark of night that first time we embraced. I even took the picture myself. She just sunk into me and I'll always remember that moment. I knew we would be fine.
But I never expected that we'd be in such a special, nursing relationship for such a long time. I feel very grateful to have been able to breastfeed at all - let alone over two years. And I've enjoyed the snuggles and closeness while it lasted.
These days it looks more like this!!
When people ask me what Hope is like, I tell them there are too many adjectives to describe her. My experience raising her so far has been drastically different than the boys. We did everything for Gavin, because he needed us to. Then, when Brian came along so close behind him we were still in the "doing" mode and just did everything for him, too! I'm not sure if we hindered Brian's development and independence for a while or if he was happy to have us do things for him. He just didn't seem too interested in doing things independently.
Then Hope came bursting onto the scene. She wanted to feed herself and use a cup - put on her shoes and zip up her coat. She likes to click the straps closed around her in the shopping cart and the carseat and the kitchen chair. She's a page turner and a iPad swiper and, quite frankly, she is the "director of fun" in the house. We are never bored. Ever. In other news, I often need a nap.
From the day she found her voice, Hope has always been vocal with her wants and needs - most of the time using please and thank you! So, when she didn't ask to nurse on that last night - I asked her. You know, just in case she forgot.
"Hopi, did you want to nurse?"
I half hoped for a yes.
"No thank you, Mommy," she answered.
Then she reached into her books and chose three to read. And that is our new bedtime ritual.
I wasn't prepared for the plans I never had...
but I wouldn't want my life to look any other way.