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One last time

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When breastfeeding comes to an end.

Giving up breastfeeding - how do you know when it's time?

I knew it was time. Already I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for over two years and learning to share myself physically like never before. I wanted a break between baby number one and baby number two. More and more Levi was indicating that he was fine without mama’s milk, and I knew it was just a matter of one of us deciding it was time to move on.

Throughout my second pregnancy I had continued to nurse Levi easily and without discomfort, but the last couple of weeks things started to change. My belly was getting bigger, my breasts were beginning to change and all of a sudden nursing started to be painful, and I also began to wonder if Levi was getting the milk he needed/wanted any more. He was acting differently and giving indication that even when he was done, he wasn’t done…. he was frustrated.

I dropped the morning feed with little discomfort and little notice from Levi, and then a few days later I nursed Levi before bedtime for the last time. He was 16 months old and I was 19 weeks along with our second baby (this was several weeks ago now).

It wasn’t the magical, sentimental moment that I was hoping for. Levi squirmed and wiggled and I winced with more pain. But still I felt a twinge of sadness knowing that time truly was marching on.

My toddler really wasn’t my baby any more. He truly was my toddler.

I had a few little tears in my eyes that night as I sang him his lullabies, whispered prayers, and kissed him “I love you’s”. He must have known that mama needed a little extra loving that night as he kissed me with one slobbery, open-mouthed kiss after another.

And then I put him to bed.

Done. Finished. Chapter over.

I was a little sad, a little glad, a little nostalgic. But I was also at peace knowing that it was indeed time.

When breastfeeding comes to an end - how do you know when it's time?

That night Levi woke up in the middle of the night, which he hadn’t done in months and months. Ryan tried to console him and get him back to sleep. He held him, rocked him, paced with him, sang to him. Nothing was working; Levi just cried and cried.

Although Ryan is usually the one with the magic touch in those midnight moments, I came in and interrupted since it obviously wasn’t working. After all, Ryan needed to get up early for work in the morning, I’m never able to sleep through nighttime crying anyway, and so there was no need for our entire household to be awake.

Ryan returned to bed while I tried all the same things he had and more. Even in my arms Levi continued to cry. It was very unusual, very unlike him.

So, I decided to nurse.

Why not?

I was secretly grateful that I could meet his need for comfort in this way. (Doesn’t it feel wonderful to feel needed?)

I nursed him and he drank and drank as if he was either starving or dying of thirst. When he was finished I cuddled him again, sang, prayed, lathered him with kisses, and laid him in bed.

Although still wide-awake he lay there peacefully and watched me walk out of the room. Within minutes his eyes were closed and he was asleep again.

To this day I don’t understand that wake-up. It was so uncharacteristic, so out of the blue… and so incredibly satisfying for me.

It was wonderful to feel needed in a way that only I could meet that one last time. And that, perhaps he knew, was what this little mama’s heart needed for us to both sleep peacefully.

Dear friends, was it hard for you to give up breastfeeding? I can honestly say that it was both challenging and freeing for me all at once. How did you know it was time?

moving on,

 

 

 

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33 Comments

  • Reply Becky 18 June 2011 at 4:30 pm

    It was hard! My oldest child (now 4) was weaned when he was just past two (maybe two and a few weeks/a couple months? I don’t really remember now). But it was like you described, I was pregnant with number two, and it had just become painful- like I just wanted to cry whenever he nursed. Our last feed to go was the bedtime feeding. We co-slept, so I finally just had to turn away from him when it was bedtime. It was bittersweet, and I missed being able to comfort him in that way…and things got a little rough with him afterwards (but he was two, after all, so that might’ve been the reason). Anywho…it is so nice that you were able to have one last memorable time with him in that way. I pray you both continue to adapt well to all the changes taking place! :)

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 21 June 2011 at 10:02 pm

      Oh, it would have been much harder co-sleeping I’m sure! Wow, you are amazing!! :) With Levi it was pretty easy. My husband just put him to sleep for the week once we switched him to cow’s milk for that last feed. No doubt if I was doing the bedtime routine and giving him cow’s milk it would have been much harder. Add co-sleeping to that and I think it would have been a big drama for us!! As it went it was actually very, very easy. No drama on Levi’s part and very little discomfort on mine. I guess that’s all indication that is was indeed the right time…

  • Reply SushiMama 19 June 2011 at 12:09 am

    I don’t have any experience in breastfeeding yet, but strangely enough, you’re the second blogger I follow to post about this today. Both of your positive experiences make me so hopeful that I’ll get to experience this with a little one. I’m glad you got one last time to help your heart say goodbye.

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 21 June 2011 at 10:05 pm

      I really hope it goes well for you! Every woman experiences breastfeeding differently – some with great difficulty or some with very little (or none). I was in the “easy” category from the first moment I held my son to my chest so was very, very relieved and happy about that. I know that many woman don’t have it that easy though. BUT either way, my only encouragement to you is get as much information as you can ahead of time… and as much support as you need while you’re learning! And at the end of the day – babe will be ok at breast or bottle so don’t beat yourself up about how things go! All you can do it get as educated as possible and then give it your very best shot. All the best to you – I hope it’s all super easy from the get-go!!! x

  • Reply Kristin 19 June 2011 at 12:35 am

    Such a beautiful post and a beautiful way to end what is such an amazing time. I still remember that time, actually that day like it was yesterday with my first born. I was very emotional. My son was 16 months and we likely would have continued, but we were going to try for our second and breastfeeding was preventing that. It ended on a good note, but was still difficult, I think more for me. I nursed my second, my daughter, until 18 months. I remember being emotional as well, as much as the first as I thought she was my last. Now, as my third is 7 months, and my last (pretty certain this time :)), it continues to be another amazing bonding experience. Many well wishes to you!

  • Reply Stephanie @ henry happened 19 June 2011 at 1:50 am

    Wow, you’re amazing for breastfeeding & being pregnant! Kudos, really. I just weaned my little guy a couple of months ago and it was bittersweet too. My first refused to nurse so it was such a blessing to finally get to have that relationship. Then I realized that actually nursing might just be harder than it was to pump for 10 months! Henry was getting teeth – and using them! – so it was time! I miss that special time but I was also ready :)

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 21 June 2011 at 10:10 pm

      No, I’m not amazing! :) It just worked for us. I was having trouble gaining weight though and was under my BMI for my height if not preggers, much less preggers… so even though my doctor is a huge BF advocate, I think she was relieved when I weaned Levi. She kept worrying about my weight and prescribing me milkshakes! 😉 And I’m not going to lie, I do feel a little more energy now that I’ve weaned him. Now I’m getting seconds in terms of nutrients, not thirds (behind both of them!). It was probably a really smart move for that reason. Anyway, I’m so glad that you were able to nurse your second. It really is so, so special… and (in my opinion) very ideal if you are able to go that route!!

  • Reply Rebecca Watson 19 June 2011 at 2:11 am

    what a lovely story! I enjoyed reading this :)

  • Reply Cameron 19 June 2011 at 2:29 am

    I’m so happy you got that last time! It was definitely hard for me to stop, but it also was okay. It wasn’t sudden, so I feel like I had time to get okay with it. But I remember the last time I did it, too. I feel like we all need that last time when you just know it’s done and you can be sad, but also enjoy it.

  • Reply Rosilind 19 June 2011 at 3:47 am

    Oh – I got tears in my eyes reading this post. Robi self-weaned at 12 months. He just didn’t want to nurse anymore and no amount of coaxing from me would make him continue. It was sad – I missed it so much. Looking back, I wonder if it was about the same time I conceived. I’ve heard that conception and pregnancy can make a baby not want to nurse anymore…or maybe it’s just that he is super independent. At any rate…I already can’t wait to nurse again. I am really looking forward to it!

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 21 June 2011 at 10:11 pm

      I’m looking forward to it too!! But then I remember those 40-50 minute nursing sessions during the newborn days (every 2-3 hours – yikes!) and wonder how in the world I will be able to do that with a toddler also vying for my attention?!!! Whaaa??!!

  • Reply Monica 19 June 2011 at 5:15 pm

    What a sweet story! So wonderful that you had that last special feed. My little boy is 7 1/2 months and I’ve been really emotional about even just dropping his dream feed….the only time I really get to cradle him and get some really good cuddles in. I think the ‘last time’ will be very hard for me! But even so, will probably wean after 1 year….we don’t want to wait too long to try again, and I’m not too sure about the nursing-and-pregnant thing! Blessings on your family in all the joys and challenges and uncertainty and change of this season.

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 21 June 2011 at 10:15 pm

      Oh, I understand about the cuddles! They get so wiggly and squirmy don’t they??!

      I also thought I’d wean at 12 months… but then just wasn’t ready. :) I dropped the 2 daytime feeds around then and it was really wonderful to be freed up during the days again (I always hated pumping). But then I just kept the morning and bedtime feeds because I wasn’t ready. :) And it obviously didn’t interfere with my fertility at that point! :) I started my cycle again at 11 months and got pregnant at 12 months right off the bat. :) I guess you never know!!

  • Reply Nessa 19 June 2011 at 10:32 pm

    This was beautiful… I am so glad you had that last magical moments. I am sure nursing a squirming toddler and being pregnant has been tough.

    Our daughter self weaned at 14 months. Our last feeding left near the end was the morning. One night, we were out late and she fell asleep in the car. She was so upset when we moved her, that I nursed her to sleep. The next morning – instead of signing “milk” she signed “eat” and “banana”. Since that day – she never asked again. It is such a special thing, to calm them and sooth them like that. I miss it, but I too, am glad it ended that way.

  • Reply rachel kargas 20 June 2011 at 1:03 am

    Your post made me cry! I remember the last time nursing both of my boys and it was truly one of those moments when you realize that a chapter is closing. Now that I turly have my last baby I know that this time around will be even more meaningful…

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 21 June 2011 at 10:17 pm

      Aw, you still have your “4th trimester” hormones!! 😉 But yes, I can imagine it will be so hard with the last child!!! :( At least this time I have another tiny little babe to look forward to nursing.

  • Reply Laura 20 June 2011 at 10:45 am

    What a beautiful way for that chapter of your life story together to end like that! For me, it was a little less nostalgic. Georgia was completely uninterested, and my body stopped producing with record speed. 3 weeks after she turned 1, my baby stopped nursing completely and went straight to the cup full-time. It was sad, but I was mostly just relieved that I didn’t have to try to keep up with her growing body anymore. I always produced *just* enough for her and no extra. I loved nursing her, but I’m loving her toddlerhood even more!

  • Reply Mandy@ asortafairytale 20 June 2011 at 11:08 am

    Thank you for sharing this!! I remember when Bennett and I were done nursing. He was almost 11 months and he completely weened himself. I was pretty sad about it. I kinda forced the issue for a few weeks, hoping he’d show more interest… but he was just done. It was hard for me to give it up, because I loved the connection, and I love that I could provide him with what he needed. So when he didn’t want/need me anymore in that way – it was tough. But at the same time, it was very nice for me to get my body back. I liked having the freedom. Definitely bitter sweet :)

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 21 June 2011 at 10:19 pm

      Yeah, that is hard. I was glad that I still had a “say” in how we ended – felt like it was a mutual thing and neither one of us was really “forcing” it if you know what I mean. If he would have just started refusing, I think it would have been harder!! :(

  • Reply Courtney @ The Mommy Matters 20 June 2011 at 11:26 am

    I wonder so often if I missed out on something because I COULDN’T breastfeed our son. I tried. I tried for several weeks, with no avail. This made me tear up a bit. Hugs!!

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 21 June 2011 at 10:23 pm

      Oh, I’m sorry Courtney! I would be lying if I said I don’t think you missed out on something… it is such a special thing that I’d wish for any mom to get to experience. BUT, in saying that, it doesn’t make you any less of a super mother!! You gave your baby your best, which in your case happened to be formula/bottle and THAT is what makes you super. Besides, your baby got something that mine didn’t – a chance to be “nursed” (fed) by daddy – and that is very special for them as well. You shared (I’m guessing to your husband’s delight) … I didn’t. :)

      And, you never know – things might be different with your next child (if you have another). :) You might still get that chance! Every baby is different and there are no guarantees that the next will be the same in terms of BFing!!

  • Reply Melissa Smith 20 June 2011 at 2:07 pm

    What a beautiful and touching post! I have three weaned babies, and each experience has been different, but you capture the feeling perfectly.

    I weaned my first dd when I was 3 months pregnant with my second. I was losing weight,feeling terrible, and she was back to nursing every two hours. It was just to much. We steadily cut back over a weeks time, and that last night I just sat and cried while she nursed for the last time. Neither of us felt ready or at peace.

    My second self weaned, and so there was no “moment”, just a gradual goodbye. Hard, but so much more peaceful.

    My third I weaned because I just didn’t think I could handle tandem nursing, and it was nearing the end of my pregnancy with number 4. He was old enough to understand some of what I was telling him about it being the last time, and he cried afterwards too. He has even asked for it again since number 4 has been born, but there have only been a few tears.

    Love nursing, but the end is always so bittersweet. I dread the day when my “last” weans.

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 21 June 2011 at 10:28 pm

      Amazing how each experience is so different isn’t it??! I was really underweight as well, which was part of the reason I knew I needed to wean. Baby was measuring fine but I was suffering. Was really struggling with energy to do very normal things and my doc said I was underweight for my height even if I wasn’t pregnant, much less being pregnant. I was so drained all the time. :( I knew I wanted to wean anyway though – was pretty sure (like you) that I couldn’t handle tandem nursing (physically or emotionally). When it’s time, it’s time I guess!! But yes, will be very emotional weaning your last!!

  • Reply Angel 20 June 2011 at 11:34 pm

    My little self-weaned a month or so after her first birthday. Our feeding sessions kept growing shorter and shorter, and her behavior seemed to be trying to tell me she was ready for the next step of her independence. It was hard and I felt very conflicted. On the one hand I was happy she was able to move forward, on the other hand I so missed “our” time. Just me and my girl. Nursing was always a special time for us, and I knew I would miss it. I was afraid of losing that time with just me and her, but she is almost 20 months now and I can honestly say that while I miss that closeness that nursing gives, we have found so many other activities together. Snuggling up with a book, taking a walk just the two of us, or snuggling up to watch an Elmo movie (she calls him El-bo, funniest thing ever). I am so happy for you that you had the opportunity to have that last beautiful moment with him, it really does feel wonderful to be needed in a way only you can fill. Big kudos for nursing while pregnant, you are super-mommy!

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 21 June 2011 at 10:32 pm

      correction! i’m not super-mommy! it just worked for us… until it didn’t. :) i didn’t force the issue – just did what seemed right for us at the time. thanks though – i’ll receive your sentiments at least. i am super mom of course – just maybe not for those reasons. 😉 hahaha! love that you can snuggle with your daughter while you watch elbo together! lol.

  • Reply Carol 21 June 2011 at 2:24 am

    Adriel, you describe those emotions so effortlessly. It is bittersweet isn’t it? You miss that special time together, and being needed, although, as my children age, I realize that part of motherhood carries on, just in a different form. My first daughter was a biter, and around 8 months I decided it was time to stop, she would bite, I would cry out in pain, and she would cry. It wasn’t enjoyable for either of us anymore. My 2nd self weaned at 14 months, and I remember being sad about that, but at the same time looking forward to the freedom to eat spicy foods, and drink an extra glass or two of wine. You’ve done well, girlfriend, you’ve done well.

  • Reply Micheline 21 June 2011 at 4:38 am

    Yes, totally mixed emotions about Q weaning. He was close to the same age as Levi, but it was just time for both of us. Such a sweet story about his middle of the night waking and needing one last dose. And reading this makes me really look forward to nursing the new baby. You must be looking forward to that too!

    • Reply Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos 21 June 2011 at 10:33 pm

      oh yes, i am!! i’m also now enjoying the break. :) it’s nice to not be so bound by the clock/baby’s belly at the moment!! :)

  • Reply Kaitlin 25 June 2011 at 1:57 am

    Aww that is such a bittersweet story. It is good you did it now though because soon you will have a new little bug to breastfeed.

    I found out this week I am having a boy! So excited!!

  • Reply kristy 6 July 2011 at 6:16 pm

    This is a beautiful post, I struggled with weaning a little, my son weaned himself. Breast feedings pretty amazing, it gives you feelings you never knew you would have.

  • Reply holy flippin moly. it sure was a wild ride. « The Mommyhood Memos 30 December 2011 at 1:12 pm

    […] our news and how–strong and fragile–we would be okay. June was also the month that I finished breastfeeding my first-born and savored that one last time that wasn’t meant to be… and yet so […]

  • Reply Verónica 16 March 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Hi Adriel,
    I was searching about last feeding online and I found you. Tonight I did not feed my baby (17 month toddler) from my breast. And I’d been crying since and even more reading your post.
    In my case I’m not pregnant, but her teeth were hurting me a bit when she latched and I was just getting upset and it is not her fault. I enjoyed feeding her so much and I defended breastfeeding like crazy. I love it and it was extremely special for us. I would like to have two more babies if God allows that for us and I want to breastfeed again.
    Tonight I had to comfort her because she got confuse and asked for food, so I gave her two puffs(cookies), hug her and I cried when I sang to her. She later looked at me and said Mama! and we kissed. And I’m still crying but I think it’s time, I don’t want, not to want to feed her or do it upset just because her little teeth is bothering me. It was amazing 17 months and I’ll do it again with all my love.
    Thanks for your post, I know you wrote this a few years ago, but it helps :)

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