When I started thinking about weaning my daughter, I would read women’s last nursing stories and sob. I’m not an incredibly emotional person, but Ginny and breastfeeding really changed me, and the thought of ending something so special hurt my heart. I loved nursing – I felt pride in nourishing my baby from my own body. I cherished the comfort and peace I brought her in our special snuggle sessions. I loved every stage of our nursing relationship, from the eager sloppy slurps of a newborn to the casual gulps of snacking toddler.
I always thought I would nurse until one year, and then when Ginny’s birthday came, I knew we weren’t ready. I decided to take it day by day instead of setting a deadline for us. Because of some health reasons, I decided to start weaning at 14 months and was completely finished by 15 months.
My Unremarkable Last Nursing Story
I imagined our last nursing session- I envisioned taking in every detail: how Ginny’s small dimpled fingers held my hand; how her rosy plump cheek rested against my chest, all warm, doughy, and delicious; how her curly hair smelled like a fresh, clean baby with a slight toddler spice; how she made eye contact with me, but more of a distracted contact than those intense baby nursing stares. Yes, I pictured myself soaking in every last morsel of that moment so I could write about it and memorialize it forever.
How to choose?
However, once I started envisioning this, I completely lost it. How would I choose the last nursing session? How could I choose to end something so treasured and sacred? My mind would flash back to millions of nursing memories, and I would cry at the thought of choosing an end to something Ginny and I both loved. We worked hard for it at the beginning; we had some hilariously awkward public nursing stories to look back on and laugh about; we had bonded, my girl and I, in a way only mother and daughter can. So how would I pick the last? The emotions surrounding this question were too much for my tender mommy heart to take.
Not what I imagined
So that’s why I don’t have the remarkable last nursing story I always imagined. In fact, I don’t even particularly know when the last time was. Was it a Wednesday? No, it must have been a Thursday. Or was it a Saturday? Honestly, I don’t remember. Was it a 10 minute thirsty, comforting nursing session at 6 a.m. or a quick sip on-the-go between playing and reading? Was I holding her in my arms, her tall toddler body looking funny curled up like a baby in my arms or was she standing, holding her milk by herself, completely in control? I’m not sure. I had to approach my last time nursing like when I sold my first car – quickly and without too much thought or emotion.
See, I tend to get very attached to things – at the end of family vacations, my sister and I would cry saying goodbye to our waiters; it took me 15 years to throw out some old t-shirts; even putting away Christmas ornaments at the end of the season saddens me. The end of breastfeeding meant the end of so much: the end of my unique purpose, the end of an exceptional bond, and the unavoidable truth – my daughter was growing up.
For this reason, I knew I had to put this remarkable last nursing story from my mind –other moms would not tearfully read my story during mid-morning nursing sessions when they questioned their own weaning timeline. No mom would sniffle with an aching, heavy heart as she kissed her child’s head, breathing in all the smells, life, love, and soul of her little one. I wish I could have written that story, but I’m an emotional wimp.
Not planning my last time nursing was the only way I could handle this otherwise emotional transition, and you know what? It worked for me. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, gradually weaning with no pressure or deadlines in site worked for me. It allowed Ginny and me to ease into our new special relationship that didn’t revolve around nursing. I thought the end of breastfeeding meant the end of an era but really, it was just the pathway to a new one. And you know what? This one is filled with more affection and sweetness than I could have imagined. I thought nursing was the thing holding us together on a higher, magical level that nobody could understand, but I was wrong. It wasn’t the glue at all.
The end of an era?
As my boobs made their way back to ‘normal,’ I didn’t have time to feel sad that Ginny wasn’t grabbing at me or wanting to nurse. I didn’t have time to feel sad that she was handling this whole thing with so much tact and grace – or was it nonchalance? I didn’t have time to feel sad that she would never remember round-the-clock newborn feedings; I didn’t have time to feel sad that she would never remember how I instantly comforted her countless times with one swift unlatch of my bra; I didn’t even have time to feel sad thinking about the first time she stroked my breast with her soft hand as she nursed, when she started squeezing or playfully slapping me as she drank, or that phase she went through where she made angry grunting noises as she gulped.
The new era
No, I didn’t have time for any of that because I was too busy being enveloped in this new era, one filled with more unprompted hugs and kisses than I could hope for – one filled with gentle hand holding, snuggles, and all the closeness I could ever want. And you know what? It came from pure desire to just be with me, her momma, her best friend, not because she was getting sweet milk, nourishing comfort, or because she fell into a habit. No, she’s my sweet little cuddle bug because she wants to be.
So that’s it. My unremarkable yet somehow still remarkable last nursing story.
I love hearing others’ stories, so please share your experience with nursing or weaning.