When I had my first child, I knew I would breastfeed. My mom had nursed my sister and I, and she encouraged me to attend La Leche League meetings and get informed.
I figured I’d go at least to the two years that is the current AAP recommendation. By the time he turned two, though, and then three, it all just seemed natural, and cutting him off arbitrarily seemed cruel and unnecessary.
My second nursed past three as well.
Then came my “baby”, the last for us (at least biologically) unless the Lord has some strange designs for the future.
I treasure this photo: R.T. nursing at the shrine of Our Lady of La Leche – in front of the statue of Mary nursing the baby Jesus.
He nursed past four. The longest-nursing of my kiddos. I would have thought four was “too old to nurse” even not that long ago. But walking through it daily, with our life, and his concerns, it still seemed right and natural.
For most of the past year he has declared from time to time, “I’m weaned!” and it was a topic that was discussed as part of growing up. But he just wasn’t ready to give up that reassurance when he was going to bed at night (typically the only time he nursed, by that point).
Then one night he was so tired he fell asleep without nursing. With one thing and another, it happened again. And, at 50 months old, he quietly but officially passed out of that stage of his life.
In some ways, I was more than ready for this. It makes bedtime duties easier to share, and gives me the freedom for the occasional “Moms Night Out” with my homeschool friends.
[Male readers may skip this paragraph] Not to mention the freedom that I now have to find better-fitting, and perhaps even (gasp) attractive undergarments!
But it is a bittersweet moment.
I enjoyed the special bond and relationship with all my children that nursing creates.
Weaning marks in a concrete way that they are growing up. Taking one more step towards the day when they will be adults, and off on their own. Desirable, of course, but sad as well that we “lose” the babies and children that they were(are). Maybe having my oldest graduating and preparing to move forward with his life has brought that home to me even more clearly right now.
Additionally, I think R.T. being my last “baby” makes it even more of a “finish” for me. Jewel’s weaning was the end of her babyhood, but not the end of that phase of my life, since she has a younger brother.
This time the baby and I are both closing a chapter.