The End of a Nursing Era

Breastfeeding my baby ended on Saturday, quietly and with no drama except a few sad smiles from me.

I didn’t plan to doextended breastfeeding and certainly didn’t want to draw it out to the point where Sprout could clearly ask for milk. While I respect every woman’s right to make those decisions for herself, the idea of doing it myself freaks me out a little. Sharing my body with my baby who needed it for his main source of nutrition was fine, but I definitely didn’t want a kid (albeit a little one) who can speak nursing essentially for comfort. But I also didn’t want to go cold turkey, which would be painful to me physically and Sprout emotionally.

Once I reached my one year goal, I started the process of weaning. First, I cut out one pumping session each week, which I was more than happy to say goodbye to. Getting back the time and headspace that I had devoted to pumping was definitely the best part of this process. Because I was producing less, Chris started giving him bottles on weekends (in addition to weekdays) to supplement my nursing. I tried to give him a bottle and he did not take kindly to it, throwing it across the room.

Once I stopped pumping, my morning and nighttime supply also dwindled. As he wasn’t getting enough from me to last through the night without waking up hungry, Chris also took the final leg of the bedtime routine to feed him a bottle. Spout also didn’t seem to protest Daddy putting him to bed as much he did me, since he saw him all day and wasn’t as disappointed about not being able to play with him.

Finally, there were just two feedings left – when Sprout woke up and right before he went to bed, special times for us. As I knew these would be the hardest, I gave myself another week before tackling them, to make the transition as smooth as possible. Also, possibly, to drag the process out a little bit longer. As A Benediction for Nursing Moms says, we both mourn and rejoice at the beauty of what we’re leaving behind.

As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about in terms of Sprout being traumatized. He actually became rather ambivalent about nursing. He would latch on when offered, but would only stay on for a few minutes. Rather than rejecting me (which he’s done before), he just seemed apathetic. If he had the social sophistication, I would say he was doing it out of a sense of obligation.

In fact, he didn’t even seem to notice when I cut out the morning feeding. Unlike the first time I offered the bottle, he accepted it readily, happy to be able to drink a lot of milk, fast. He even continued to play with my hair, something he always did while nursing.

I had planned to wait a full week and a half before stopping the evening feeding, but moved the calendar forward because of his lack of enthusiasm. I purposely chose the last night as a quiet one, with Chris at the movies and me putting Sprout to bed by myself. Of all the milestones, this was one I actually controlled and I wanted to give it the focus it deserved. I felt a bit sad, knowing that this would be the last time we shared this special bond. But I didn’t cry. Instead, I just watched him with special attention, lingering on the look in his eyes. When he finished, I hugged him, kissed him, and offered him a full bottle, the transition complete.

While so many things with him becoming a toddler are loud, the end of nursing was hushed, a gentle kiss goodnight to his babyhood.

3 thoughts on “The End of a Nursing Era

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