The Big Wean
At 18 months, I decided it was time to wean my son off the boob. Well, actually before we moved to Nicaragua, Titus’ US pediatrician suggested that since we were moving to a foreign country, that I breast feed him for at least this long to ensure he was getting enough vitamins, nutrients, and disease fighting substances.
Since he is my last baby, this event was bittersweet for me. I had been preparing myself emotionally for “The Ache” for months, as Sarah Bessey so eloquently put it in her article, “In Which I am Learning to Live with the Ache“. Some nights I loathed the experience, especially when I had to excuse myself from a social gathering so I could go isolate myself in his room and quietly rock him to sleep while breastfeeding. But I have always been thankful that I was able to produce enough milk to sustain both my kids for the first year of their life. Breastfeeding forced me to slow down, look into their eyes, touch their skin tenderly, and hold their tiny hands.
As with Azalea I gave myself a month to completely wean. Titus was feeding usually 4 times a day, so I planned on just dropping one feeding a week. This had worked well with Azalea and I was able to transfer her to milk out of a sippie cup with extraordinary ease. I worried Titus would be a bit more of a problem since he wasn’t a huge lover of milk and never used a pacifier.
The first two days went great. My plan was to drop one of the afternoon nursing sessions, whichever naturally seemed easier, but both feedings dropped in the first two days. The morning and night time feedings were a bit more difficult. I continued on & off with these two, and sometimes the before nap feeding for the next 8 months.
For me, I found that when I was only nursing him once or sometimes twice a day, it didn’t seem that important to me to cut him off anymore. The pressure was lifted. It didn’t have to be a well thought out plan with a definitive ending. Some mornings if he woke up early and I wasn’t ready to get up, I’d nurse him in bed, trying to get a few more minutes of sleep. Our nanny put Titus down for a nap several days a week, so I was off the hook for a lot of those feedings. Then Kharron, wanting to spend some extra time with his son after being away at work most of the day, began being the primary bedtime parent for Titus. On those nights he got a bottle of milk with Daddy. On the one or two nights a week Kharron was tired, had something else he needed to do, or I wanted to spend some quiet time with my Little Man at the end of his day, then I would give him a bottle of milk and when that was finished, nurse him to sleep.
Recently one night after I gave him the bottle and he asked for “Boo boo” I declined. My heart melted when he replied with a sad little “Why?” But as a mom, I felt like we were both ready. His long body draped across mine was starting to get awkward and harder to hold comfortably to my breast. If not held just right his head would not hit the wood of the rocking chair and his legs would roll off of mine. I whispered to him, “Its time” and he settle into the crook of my arm and fell asleep.
Three weeks ago I breast fed for my last time. I hadn’t realized it was the last. There was no special moment of taking it all in, a mental note, a saying goodbye to this motherly duty. As much of a task this sometimes was for me, I will have “The Ache” for those quiet moments him & I shared. I know that its okay to ache, its part of real life. It means I’m loving my life, loving it enough to notice the transitions.