My son is 3 1/2 now and I think I can call him weaned. It was an incredibly gradual, gentle process and was rather different than what I expected. The other day he pointed to my shirt hanging down as I leaned over and said “that’s so I can nurse!”
He hasn’t nursed for nearly a month but I am so happy I truly allowed him to self-wean. I’ve talked about my experience breastfeeding my older children, and how I felt they weren’t able to really self-wean. When my oldest was a newborn, even the idea of nursing a 1 year old was foreign to me.
I even made it through years of nursing in public and my “personal problem” (lopsidedness) when he refused my left side. The weaning process began in earnest a year ago when we transitioned from bedsharing at 2 1/2. He went from nursing day and night to largely at night, then gradually dropping night nursing sessions. When I attended ABC in September he went to sleep without nursing for a full week, and my supply dwindled to nearly nothing.
After that my husband sporadically took over bedtime duty for him while I put the then 9 year old and 5 year old to bed. Sometimes he asked to nurse, sometimes he didn’t. By this winter, he was only asking to nurse a few times a week. Sometimes he nursed himself to sleep and sometimes he latched for a few seconds and was done.
The last time he “nursed” was the week after Mother’s Day and that consisted of a halfhearted latch for about 10 seconds, after me asking if he was sure he wanted to nurse.
I definitely have mixed feelings about this. In the absence of memory loss, he will be my last baby. I’m saying goodbye to that little towheaded baby and hello to a pre-schooler and I’m excited, nostalgic and sad all at the same time. Yet, nursing a toddler isn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows, and I was definitely ready to be done!
If you had told me even 3 1/2 years ago that I would nurse a 3 year old I would have laughed at you. No way.
In fact, this would have been my face.
But here I am. I did it. I allowed a child to self-wean, even if it did involve a large helping of “don’t offer, don’t refuse” encouragement from me.
Whether you are thinking “oh, you pushed him too much” or “oh that is so gross,” I am proud of our achievement, and that I have spent 70% of the last 10.5 years breastfeeding. After so many years of layering tops and “if I can pull it down it’s a nursing shirt,” I’m glad to no longer make fashion choices based on boob access. 😉