I knew it would happen eventually, but that doesn’t make it any less bittersweet.
My daughter weaned herself from daytime nursing a month or so after her second birthday. I let her take the lead, nursing if she asked, but not offering it up. This meant of course that my milk began to dry up. As someone who was routinely engorged, had an overactive let down, and an oversupply to the point I was able to donate hundreds of ounces, my flat empty breasts hardly felt like mine anymore. But on the plus side, I finally bid farewell to my nursing bras and bought some fancy new bras and bathing suits too!
And now over the past several months, we’ve slowly weaned at night. She would ask to nurse as I was putting her to bed most nights. When we cuddled into position, my breasts would respond and she’d swallow maybe half a teaspoon before declaring “it’s all gone” and switch to the other side. This was every night, then every other, then only a few times a week.
I knew that after 29 months, my breastfeeding days were numbered. Few woman (at least in this country) breastfeed past one, let alone two years of age. Two was my goal since that is when I was told my daughters immune system would be sufficiently developed. We both passed, exceeding our goal by just shy of 6 months.
I suspected it would be the end when I left her for six days early last month. When I returned, I could no longer squeeze even a drop. I told her the milk was gone, but she pleaded “try mommy?!” And so she did for several days, until magically my breasts produced maybe a drop or two more.
This lasted a couple more weeks with her nursing (trying to at least) every few days. Each time nursing for 10 seconds or so before telling me the milk was all gone.
The last time it happened was just last week. She was getting over a cold and asked for what I believe will prove to be the last time. But this time she turned away after just a few moments, not with disappointment but with what seemed to be acceptance and even contentment. I felt a tug at my heart when she looked up and simply asked me to sing. She smiled as if to thank me for giving her life and letting me know it was ok that the milk was gone.
Like I, she knew this would happen. I’d told her it would for sometime now. I even told her that one day we’d cuddle and sing to sleep instead. She was ready. And while I was too, the tears steaming down my cheeks as I write this are evidence of how much those two and half years has and will always mean to me.
This made me cry too! I made it to just past 18 months with my daughter. I had to leave her for four days and figured that was it. Maybe I should have tried anyway. Every now and then, especially if she’s whiny, she’ll assume the position on my lap and try to lift my shirt. My baby is all grown up.
Amy this is such beautiful writing. You are graceful in seeding change for her making it a transition rather than a loss. She is prepared and trusts you to find a new connection with her (singing) a lovely metaphor for all the transitions you will make together.