Five years. It’s been five years since I began my motherhood journey. For the past five years I’ve been pregnant with and/or nursing one of my children. For the first time in these past five wonderful, exhausting, sometimes stressful years, I’m not pregnant or nursing one of the kids. That’s right, a month ago, I finished weaning Anderson. For the first time in half a decade, I have my body all to myself.
Much like when I weaned Ella, I have such mixed emotions. It’s almost as if I’ve been going through the stages of grief as the final weaning process unfolded.
When Anderson turned two in August, he was still nursing 3-4 times/day. Josh started being less subtle with his hints about it being time to wean. When I looked at Anderson, he still seemed like my baby. Maybe it was the lack of hair and teeth, both very slowly coming in, or the fact he wasn’t as verbal as Ella was, but he was my baby. My last baby.
He didn’t need to wean and he didn’t want to. With his dairy allergy, he wasn’t/isn’t drinking milk, he basically subsists on peanut butter, bread, fruit and graham crackers. He still needed my milk. It was working for us so I brushed off the suggestions. It was our time together in the quiet of his room where Ella couldn’t steal my attention away from him.
As the next few months passed, I slowly started to limit when he could nurse. Wake up was the first to go. I’d distract him by taking him right to the table for breakfast. He’d give me his pouty, I’m upset face, but chow down on his blueberry waffles. Once that was going well, post-nap went. Very very slowly, we were working our way towards twice a day: pre-nap and pre-bed.
As I took away feedings, I was kind of sad. It was less time that I had for us to be with just each other. Anderson was becoming more clingy, but handling the lack of nursing pretty well. The most difficult session was definitely to come.
Before bed was his favorite time to nurse and our longest session. There was something calming and peaceful about us sitting together in our chair in the dark. Every night, our routine the same. Just the two of us cuddling and singing. Cozy under his blanket he would look up at me, smiling, our breathing in sync. When he was done, he’d stand up to put his head on my shoulder, laying against me if I were the most comfortable pillow he’d ever felt, as I got up from the chair to tuck him in.
A month ago, I nursed Anderson for the last time before tucking him in for bed. That night I assured him we’d read books, cuddle, and sing songs before I tucked him into bed at night. He’d still have his one-on-one mommy time though he wouldn’t have mommy’s milk. He asked me why several times, but settled into bed after that final session saying “night, night.” I left his room feeling proud of myself for nursing him so long, a little bit sad that my baby was no longer a baby, and excited not to feel quite so chained to the house at bedtime.
The next few nights were a little rough at bedtime, but he’s stopped asking to nurse. Instead of asking to nurse, he requests water with ice. For the first few weeks he was clingy, unlike he’s ever been before. I think he was craving the closeness that nursing provided. While frustrating when I was trying to cook dinner or fold laundry, I love that he still wanted to cuddle. There is only so long that kids want to cuddle and I’m taking full advantage.
With sleepless night (mostly) behind me and diapers very slowly phasing out, it will be interesting to see what this next phase brings. I almost don’t know what to do with myself. It’s a very strange feeling knowing that I’m done with pregnancy and breastfeeding. It’s freeing but also a little sad to realize that a major phase of my life has come to a close.