On Weaning.

My journey of breastfeeding L has been emotional and eye-opening. It’s an experience that’s made me cry out of frustration, weep with gratitude, and, of course, take for granted many a time, but it’s only now, when our boy is fully weaned (yes, that’s right – as of August 31, 2013, our breastfeeding relationship has come to a close) that I am able to realize just how sweet the journey has been.

L-Mama-Newborn

As I wrote in my letter to L when he was just five months old, it was – and still is, looking back on the nearly sixteen months of breastfeeding – an immense responsibility to provide wholly and completely for another person’s every nutritional need. In the beginning, I couldn’t have been more overwhelmed by the idea of nursing L every two hours (every three hours, when we were lucky). But it worked – we worked on it every day.

I’ll never forget that first feeding, dear boy. You and I had just met, and after a long and arduous birth experience, you were finally in my arms, and as I pulled you close to nurse for the very first time, I was astounded that you knew exactly what to do. As I fumbled and worried and repositioned countless times, you were patient with me, ever confident that you and I, you and your mama, would figure out this complex thing together. You taught me that for us, breastfeeding was not complex at all – it was so simple. You’re hungry, I provide – that’s all it ever was.

You tolerated my fumbles with the nursing cover when we were in public – oh, how I laugh at myself now when I think of how modest I was in the beginning. I’ll never forget nursing you as your Daddy and I walked you through the local corn maze, without a single hesitation, without a single thought that, perhaps, we should find a stopping place so that I could feed you. You were always cool with nursing on the go, and so I learned to be, too.

L-Nursing

At times throughout our breastfeeding relationship, I would pump milk for your Daddy, your grandparents, or others to feed you, so that I could get some rest, or have some time to myself. For instance, when you were just three months old, Mama began taking a class at school. Your Daddy would watch you for the fifty minutes that I was in class, and I always tried to leave behind a bottle with a few ounces of milk in it. Pumping was always a challenge for me – I hated using my manual pump, and I hated to sacrifice nursing time with you, but it was so important – for you and for me – to allow others to meet your needs, too. You took a bottle like a champion, L, but you always made it clear that you preferred your Mama to any old bottle.

It wasn’t long after we introduced cow’s milk around the one-year mark that you gradually lost interest in nursing throughout the day. You and I would typically only nurse before bed and once or twice during the night, when you woke up for Mama snuggles. But after a month or two of that, Mama felt that you didn’t need to nurse during the night, especially since you were transitioning so well from our bed to your crib, once we moved into our new home. For the past few weeks, we’ve only been sharing a nursing session before bed, and it’s been quickly growing shorter and shorter as each night passes.

Weaning happened by accident, dear boy. Mama went upstairs on the evening of August 31 to shower after a long day in the hot garage, and when I came back to put you to bed, you and your Daddy were already rocking away in your room – and you were sound asleep. We laid you down in your crib, and I was sure that you would wake up in twenty minutes, thirty minutes, an hour, to nurse – but you didn’t. You didn’t wake until nearly sunrise, sweet boy, and Mama bravely took that as a sign that you, honey bear, were ready to wean, even though I wasn’t quite ready to end that time with you. Letting you take the lead was so, so emotional for me, sweet L, but it’s something that I know that I’ll have to do each and every day, over and over again, as you grow, for I know that you need to make your own path.

Since that final day, there have been a few nights where you’ve been rather clingy and upset when I try to put you to bed without our usual nursing session, but most nights, you’re happy to just cuddle with Mama as we rock-a-bye. I’ve loved our new bedtime routine – reading you books and encouraging you to sip on your whole milk from a sippee cup before bed. It’s a new kind of relationship that you and I are developing – one that’s marked by story time, rock-a-bye cuddles, and sing-songs, instead of nursing.

Looking back on the past nearly fifteen months of breastfeeding, I feel so blessed to have had a wonderful experience with you, sweet L. From the first moment that your green eyes met mine, I fell in love, and each moment with you, nursing and not, has been a precious gift. You are my beloved honey bear boy, and I’ll always treasure the opportunity and the responsibility of providing for you in such a special way.

{Top photo by Creative Kindling}

About Sara

Sara works in higher education, but she's most proud of her role as a Mama to two precocious boys, Lionel Conner, age 4, and Quincy August, age 2. In honor of turning 30 in 2016, she pierced her nose to "keep her young." She loves watching guilty-pleasure television, writing about motherhood, decorating her first home, sipping red wine with her husband Jordan, and chasing after her sons.

One Response to On Weaning.

  1. valery September 6, 2013 at 12:57 AM #

    So touching! And so true, the point about seeing the relationship develop with new things instead of nursing.