One month ago, at the age of two years and five months, Lydia nursed for the last time.
I would have been happy to continue our breastfeeding relationship, but I finally decided I wanted to do every last thing I could to make it possible to have a second baby. None of my other efforts so far (taking supplements, night-weaning, using progesterone cream, etc) had been able to do it so far; so with a heavy heart I finally decided we needed to try complete weaning.
She was already night-weaned – she never asked for it at night any more, and slept amazingly well. I mean, she still came into our bed at some point almost every night, but we had no problem with that.
A few months ago she was still nursing three times a day — right in the morning, before her nap, and before bed. For the first time since her birth, we had a perfect routine down. But for the sake of a potential sibling, I threw that beautiful routine in the garbage. (Can you tell I’m a little bitter?)
We started with the bedtime nursing. Ben started putting her to bed, rocking her to sleep in the rocking chair. That one was quite painless, and within a week she had totally forgotten about bedtime nursing.
Next we tackled the morning one. That one was brutal, as it was her favourite one. We have a lamp on a timer in our bedroom that goes off at 6:30am, which had acted as her signal that she was allowed to nurse again (since nighttime nursing was out); the second it went on she’d always roll over and latch on. There were lots of tears on both our parts when I started telling her we couldn’t have mommy milk anymore when the light went on. It was impossible for me to change that routine in any way because we always woke up together — we both need exactly 8 1/2 hours of sleep at night, and there was no way I could go to bed or get up before her.
We offered chocolate milk (cow’s milk, cocoa, and maple syrup) every morning while cuddling on the couch as a substitute. It broke her little heart, but she eventually accepted it. Again, it took about a week and she was over it.
Dropping the nap nursing was the hardest for me because I never managed to find an alternative way to get her to sleep during the day. For months, at 2:00 every day I would put her in the Ergo carrier and she’d nurse while I’d sing her lullabies and walk her to sleep. Then I’d put her down in her bed. I had to quit with the carrier because it reminded her of nursing, and nothing else has worked so far to take its place.
Since I stopped letting her nurse to sleep, she no longer naps consistently. It’s awful. Some days she won’t nap at all and then is miserable all evening; other days she doesn’t nap until supper, and then she’s up til midnight. Then we both sleep in the next morning and it just spirals into further chaos. I hate it.
But she’s finally weaned. She hasn’t nursed in a month. She rarely asks any more, and when she does, she laughs, like she’s half-joking.
I have to admit, if I don’t see any improvements in my cycles, I’m going to be pretty ticked off, because then we did this for nothing.
But of course, she would have had to wean eventually. She was totally old enough to wean — she didn’t need it any more for nourishment. She’s a great eater, and can get everything she needs from table food.
But it was something we both loved. It’s biologically normal for humans to continue to nurse until they lose their milk teeth. It was great for our relationship and her immune system. In other words, there were only pros and no cons. (Except that I wasn’t able to get pregnant.)
But this new stage is great, too. She’s eating better than ever. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll get a little brother or sister out of the deal yet.
Our Breastfeeding Relationship, In Sum
I loved breastfeeding from beginning to end. The moment I put that brand new baby to my breast for the first time, just minutes after she was born, I loved it.
I’d never felt so powerful as in that moment.
And I continued to enjoy the experience. I loved those moments of intimacy with my daughter. I loved being able to provide her with that perfect nourishment. I could soothe any hurt or anxiety with my body. I never once minded her dependence upon me, and will never regret a single moment I spent nursing my baby.
I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to share this experience with my sweet Lydia, and hope that it blessed her, too.