When breastfeeding comes to an end.
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.
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.
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?