There are milestones to be met that mark both the start of a new thing and the end of another.
Some of these milestones are fairly predictable:
-6 months old: time to start solid foods
-1-year-old: switch from formula to whole milk.
But other milestone achievements aren’t so easy to pin down. For me, it’s breastfeeding. I know that nursing a 3-year-old definitely isn’t the route for us (if it is for your family, be blessed and enjoy.) But I’m not sure when or how to stop. When do I wean him? Why does it feel like I’m the one needing weaned from this?
I know there is no official end date goal to aim for. It’s a relief and also anxiety-inducing. He is the first baby of all 3, I breastfed. He is also, quite possibly, my last baby. I’m not ready for this. It went by way too fast. I savor every single moment. We fought so hard for this. All the painful feedings, latch issues, tears from both of us-desperate and exhausted, engorgement, forceful letdown, feeling like a failure. We fought through all of that to reach this point. The joy and the comfort and familiarity of each other. The way his tiny little body nestles perfectly into mine. Watching his blue eyes, heavy with sleep, stare into mine as they finally close for a nap. Drooly fingers reaching for my face and pulling at my hair while a chunky leg kicks lazily on my thigh.
From the outside looking in, it’s madness to want to keep nursing at nearly 16 months old.
“Just give him whole milk already.”
“If he can ask for it, it’s time to stop.”
“Won’t it be nice to no have that hassle anymore?”
I’m generally an optimist, always searching for the good in people and their intentions. I don’t know if it’s just because this is such an intimate, sensitive part of my motherhood or I’m just emotional, but the comments feel judgmental, harsh and unkind. Do they know how big of a blessing it has been to provide nutrition for my son? Do they know that most women struggle with breastfeeding? Or that most don’t get to choose to stop, their bodies just can’t? And why is it ok to comment on what other Mama’s have chosen to do with their children? Sure, if the child is in danger, do what is necessary. But I wonder why breastfeeding past a year old is such a taboo topic still…I mean this is 2022, right?
I am typing all of this on the note’s app on my phone, nursing my little one at 3am. It’s pitch black around us except for the glow of my phone light on his little face. The little face I have spent a year and 5 months memorizing, kissing, and praying over. I have loved every second of this. Even the hardest nights and all of the struggles I would do over and over again. All for him.
I don’t know how much longer we have, how long he will seek comfort this way. I know the end is coming…I just never expected that I may be the one reluctant to let go.