Bittersweet Endings…

Last picture I have of Izzy nursing

On Monday, November 19, I nursed 21 month old Izzy to sleep, not knowing it would be the last time he nursed. Had I known, I would have savored it…fully immersed myself in the moment with him. Stroked his head. Synchronized our breathing. Held him close. Listened intently to his suckling. However I did none of that. Instead I just assumed we had many more nights ahead of us and routinely nursed him to sleep without a second thought about it. Well turns out, I am no longer a nursing mama…and my feelings about it are all over the map! I admit there were a few many times over the last 21 months of nursing that I thought “I can’t wait to be done!”. Although now that we are actually done, a part of me is kind of sad. Looking back over the past several months, it should have been apparent the end was near, but I didn’t fully realize how soon it would sneak up on us.

If you were to ask me how to wean a baby, I wouldn’t have an answer for you. Well I guess my answer would be to either get pregnant (as was the case with my first two boys) or go on vacation, lol! Traveling seemed to have the biggest impact on weaning with Izzy. Over the summer we were out of town for 12 consecutive weeks. During that time there was a great deal of extra stimulation, additional attention and affection from extended family members, and very little in the way of a daily rhythm or routine. Plus there was a lot of new and exciting foods around all.the.time for us to enjoy. During that time, Izzy started to nurse significantly less and generally only asked to nurse when he was tired.

During the last 6 weeks or so, Izzy primarily only nursed to sleep at bedtime with a few exceptions here and there. Then we went on vacation to California over Thanksgiving and he stopped asking to nurse to sleep. One night I even laid right next to him in bed reading a book and he just snuggled up against me and fell asleep. That is when I realized we were done.

Nursing Izzy is something I have done every single day, multiple times a day, for the past 21 months…and it feels strange to suddenly be done. I am happy we enjoyed 21 months of nursing together. And I am happy to have a break from breastfeeding before getting pregnant with baby #4. But at the same time I am having hard time knowing that that part of our relationship has changed. It truly is bittersweet.

Interestingly enough for the first time ever, Izzy pretended to nurse one of his stuffed animals the other day….after not nursing for 9 days himself….go figure! :)

Izzy pretending to nurse his monkey

I would like to do something special to mark the end of nursing, but haven’t figured out what to do. Did you do anything special to honor the end of nursing with your child? Would love to hear some ideas from readers!

In the meantime, I am thankful we still have co-sleeping and babywearing!

-Sarah

Tags: affection, Breastfeeding, gentle weaning, how to wean a baby, nurse, weaning

2 Responses to “Bittersweet Endings…”

  1. Brigitta says:

    Ironic timing… DD just turned 2 and is now down to mum mum at bedtime, sometimes middle of night or early morning and at naptime (when I’m around, not working). I keep taking my pump to work with good intentions but inevitably since it’s not a case of “pump before I burst” I get busy, don’t pay attention to time, etc. and it’s an hour before the end of the shift so why bother.

    I try to look on the bright side that I made it to 2 yrs with both children, that she hasn’t relied on mum mum for nutrition for a while I know it’s primarily comfort and habit but definitely agree that it is still bittersweet.

    I had 2 bags of milk in the freezer until recently- saving it for some time when I’m out of town and daddy could use it…. but instead I gave it away- to a mama friend who is unable to produce sufficiently (genetic something, lactation consultant confirmed) but who DESPERATELY wanted to BF after her waterbirth and all other AP things. She was so down about not being able to BF as she wanted that I felt I HAD to give her that liquid gold. It was a bittersweet moment as well- especially knowing that at one point I could fill a bag in one pumping but now it would take me 1-2 days.

    Thanks for sharing your ending…. I know mine is coming but I am NOT ready for it.

  2. Sarah Jane says:

    That’s hard. My daughter nursed for 23 months, and it was definitely bittersweet. I cried, but at the same time was happy. My poor husband did not understand.