All judgments aside, weaning a child is hard whenever you do it—whether you planned for it or let nature take its course.
My confident two-year-old still nursed when he took a nap and at bedtime. It was nature’s sedative in a way but also our routine. My husband and I have worked on a sleep “routine” since he was born. It felt normal. It felt natural. For us, it happened with ease. That’s certainly not the case for everyone, and even we had our fair share of obstacles. Yet, our evolution from the early days of frequent feedings to uncomplicated sleepy-time nursing made me happy. It made us all calm, I believe, including my husband. Our routine revolved around some milk, and none of us had an issue with that.
My surroundings made nursing a toddler even easier. I am lucky to have strong women and mothers in my life. Some breastfeed; some don’t. I am in awe of those who still wake up in the wee hours of the night. Either way, and this couldn’t be any simpler…it doesn’t matter. You do what works for you and your child.
So we did what worked while I envisioned a natural weaning progression. Luckily, that did take place, but definitely didn’t make the process effortless, especially during pregnancy. There aren’t many insights or research on pregnancy and breastfeeding. It exists but also seems to be a largely unpublished concept when looking for books and information. Frankly, it appears fairly taboo, even if it is accepted and recommended by numerous doctors, nurses, and midwives.
Weaning felt both gradual and unreasonably abrupt. One day we sang songs to the sound machine like always, and before long, something suddenly shifted. My body gradually stopped producing that astonishing, sustaining liquid, which I cherished, and my son showed little sign of need.
Fascinating changes often happen when we aren’t looking closely at the immensely passionate and imaginative little people whom we created.
We continued to nurse at bedtime in short intervals, and shortly after my son switched to a “big-boy” toddler bed, our breastfeeding relationship ended. It felt right, sad, okay, and the best time for our next chapter—all at the same time. I felt reluctance and dismay at first; then, I eventually moved on to watch him continue sprouting.
The side effects of weaning are infrequently discussed but very real. Ask any woman who has done it, no matter the child’s age. There are real emotions that, for me, resembled the postpartum period—ranging from physical pain to mental strife. I hardly understood at first. The motion of our nursing relationship went static on its own. I forgot to register. But when I did, I found clarity. We accomplished a great deal in a short period of his life’s journey. I will remember this time fondly and will hopefully forget the struggle that came along with it.
To all the women out there who chose to breastfeed and found closure or who await your time—you are not alone; the connection from mother to child and mother to mother never ends.