The Last Time I Breastfed

I am currently coming down with a cold. Or something. I have a sore throat and a fever. The point is that I’m not feeling super-eloquent. And so I’m sharing a post with you that originally ran over at Crunchy Domestic Goddess. Enjoy!

Every morning, now, I look at the calendar and take note of the date. Because every day could be the last day I ever breastfeed my son Jacob. And maybe the last day that I ever breastfeed for the rest of my life. My second-born is weaning, and while I have pangs, there aren’t any more babies on the horizon for me right now.

I breastfed Jacob’s big sister, Hannah, until she was almost three years old. A whole lot of factors led to her weaning, including my desire to conceive again (I wasn’t having much luck), my increasing physical discomfort as my milk supply dwindled, and my belief that Hannah was ready to move on. I took a fairly active role in the process, which happened over a number of months.

Having a snack at the midwives picnic

Breastfeeding my daughter Hannah at a picnic

I still remember the last time that I nursed Hannah. It was December 22, 2007. Some part of me likes that I know that date, and remember the occasion. Breastfeeding played a big part in my relationship with my daughter in her early years, and it feels fitting that I marked its conclusion, as well as its beginning. I want to do the same thing with my son. I don’t want breastfeeding to pass away without notice, even though that’s exactly what seems to be happening.

Jacob is 31 months old, right now – three full months younger than Hannah was the last time that she breastfed. I didn’t expect I would be here so soon with my son, to be honest. Most of my friends and acquaintances nursed their second babies as long or longer than their first. I’m not trying to get pregnant right now, and I have less angst in general over the state of my breastfeeding relationship with Jacob. I thought I would nurse him until his third birthday, at least.

Jacob nursing

Nursing Jacob as a baby

But Jacob, as it turns out, is a different person altogether than Hannah. He’s gradually decreased his nursing all on his own. When he asks to nurse and it’s not a good time, he’s much faster to accept an alternative like a drink of water or a cuddle. There are no tears when I decline his request, no existential anguish bubbling to the surface. He’s a pretty easygoing kid, and he’s moving on to the next phase of his life without a lot of fuss.

I’ve breastfed for the past 6 years, with a break of a little under eight months during my second pregnancy. As I contemplate the potential conclusion of my nursing career, I feel a little wistful. Can it really be possible that I’m not pregnant or breastfeeding? That I am no longer the mother of a nursling? Is this the last gasp of babyhood leaving my family? I’m not sure I’m ready to close this chapter in my life.

Jacob is looking at books when he should be sleeping

Now that Jacob is no longer nursing to sleep, there are a lot of books at bedtime

And yet, when I consider Jacob’s imminent weaning, I don’t feel sad. I feel remarkably content. For him and for me, this feels like a fitting end to our breastfeeding relationship. We’re both moving towards it in our own way, and at our own pace. He’s ready, and I’m ready. I’m ready to have my body entirely to myself for the first time since I conceived my daughter almost seven years ago. I’m confident that I have given my son the best start I could, and that he has gotten what he needed out of breastfeeding. I don’t feel a need to encourage him back to the breast or prolong our time as a nursing pair.

And so, again today, I looked at the calendar. He nursed once, and I tried to remember the details. Where were we? What was it like? Will this be the last time? I memorize as much as I can, in case Jacob doesn’t breastfeed tomorrow, or the next day, or ever again. If this is the last time, I don’t want to forget it.

I’d love to hear about your own weaning experience. What was it like for you? Do you remember the last time you nursed, or not? Were you happy with how things ended? Please share!

PS – In the time between the original post and today, Jacob did wean. The last time that he nursed was on April 13, 2011, when he was exactly 32 months old. It may be the last time I ever nurse a baby at all. It was a mostly mutual decision, and both Jacob and I have moved smoothly on to the next phase of our relationship. Although, sometimes, I do lament how very quickly he is growing.

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    Comments

    1. My 3 1/2 year old is on and off weaning…. I nursed him again after 2 weeks of not, yesterday when he had a fever. His 1yr old sister is still nursing.

    2. A few months before my daughter’s 4th birthday, we agreed that she would stop nursing before she turned 4. So the morning before her 4th birthday she nursed for the last time. I actually don’t remember it that well…I’m pretty sure it was more of a brief ‘token’ nursing because that’s what it had come down to those last few months. She really didn’t need it anymore, but it was more like a security check-in she’d get in the mornings. We’d stopped nursing at bedtime when she was 3 1/4 yrs old, and reduced nighttime nursing over the next 6 months. The morning nursing was the last to go.

    3. I don’t remember the last time I nursed my eldest. He was two. It became less and less and eventually we’d go a day or two without nursing and then it sort of stopped and before I realized it, our nursing relationship had ended. He never asked to nurse again. Not once. I have a feeling that this second time around won’t be quite so seamless. He nurses way more frequently than his older bro did at the same age. Like you did, I assume I’ll nurse him longer. We’ll see.
      Amber’s last post … what I have a blog oh yeahMy Profile

    4. I don’t remember the last time I nursed my older daughter, just that she was 23 months and I gently pushed the process (I had planned a holiday with my dad and without her just after her 2nd birthday and didn’t want to stop just before). The morning feed was the last to go, it took a month, and I never forced it, I just used distraction. And then, out of the blue, she didn’t ask anymore and within a week she’d forgotten how to do it. Younger daughter is now 8 months so we still have a while to go though I wonder if that’s necessarily true. We had fewer problems in the early days, and who knows, she may wean earlier because I feel less precious about nursing this time. Or later because she may feel more precious about it than my older daughter. I won’t need to push it this time. And I know how quickly both I and daughter forgot what it was like, and maybe that means I’ll hold on to it longer this time (we won’t have any more children). Funny thing is that my 4 year old commented on a 2 1/2 year old nursing with “She’s a toddler, toddlers don’t get breast milk” when she herself had. Selective memory!
      Hope you feel better soon!
      cartside’s last post … Review- BedTed and Love One Give OneMy Profile

    5. {hugs} <= I hope you feel better!
      Wendy Irene’s last post … The Healing Power of BreathMy Profile

    6. breastfeeding was a nightmare for me. I hope your cold/flu is better now!
      Francesca’s last post … herb mattersMy Profile

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