On Weaning: A Letter to My Toddler

The story of your birth is your favorite bedtime story. The best part is the end, when I crawled up onto the bed on hands and knees and–plop!–you fell out.

But I don’t think I’ve ever told you about how we started breastfeeding. How our midwife helped me make a “nipple sandwich” to help you latch. How I set an alarm to wake up every few hours to nurse you. How I just couldn’t believe you were here, that you were mine.

Our first night together, when the alarm would go off, I’d gingerly ease myself out of bed. I’m pretty sure I stayed naked that first night–clothes just seemed excessive. I’d grab a chucks pad, cradle it beneath my bottom, and hobble to the bathroom. Sitting there, I’d focus on peeing (weird!), massage my uterus, and wonder at my new life.

I never thought a peri bottle would be my best friend. Or that I’d be naked, swollen, and exhausted, trying to nurse a newborn on the toilet.

Breastfeeding felt like a given. Of course I would, I thought. How hard could it be? Boob plus baby–no problem!

And I don’t think I’d say it’s been hard, sweetie, but it hasn’t been completely uncomplicated.

When my milk came in, I thought my boobs might explode. There have been sore nipples and plugged ducts and biting and pinching. We’ve dealt with teething and growth spurts and sleepless nights. We’ve nursed inside and outside, in front of many more people than I ever expected. You’ve nursed laying across my chest, lying beside me, and practically standing on your head.

There have been so many amazing moments in our breastfeeding relationship. Quiet cuddles. Days when only mommy milk would comfort you. And hours and hours spent bonding and breathing in the essence of one another.

It’s no surprise that I’ve got mixed feelings about weaning, baby, but it’s just time.

I adore you more than you’ll ever know, and I’ve cherished the special connection we have. But mommy’s tired. And you’re a big boy. So right after your birthday, we’re weaning.

Honestly, I’m pretty much ready now. But we’ve almost made it three years, so I might as well hit that milestone. Because, by God, after all this time I want credit for every single minute of nursing you for a full three years.

September 1 is our weaning day.

I don’t know exactly what it will look like, but there will be cake (yes, you can have a Thomas cake!). And at some point that day, we will nurse one last time. I will snuggle you close, smell your sweet scent, and probably cry a bit. And then you’ll unlatch, give me a grin, and run off as a big boy who no longer needs his mommy milk.

 


unnamedElisabeth Lighty is owner of Indianapolis Doulas, a full service doula agency providing birth doulas, postpartum doulas, and placenta encapsulation to growing families in Central Indiana. When she’s not at a birth or with a postpartum family, she’s usually hanging out with her own family or soaking in the tub. She uses her English degree to blog about birth, babies, parenthood, doulas, body image, and whatever else she thinks of.

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2 Responses to On Weaning: A Letter to My Toddler

  1. Kallie September 1, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    Keep us posted. I’m 2.5 year and counting. I’m ready to be done, but my little sure isn’t and I can’t tell her no about this.

    It’s hard to find stories of weaning toddlers… all the stories seem to be of replacing the breast with a bottle. This feels very different.

    • Elisabeth Lighty September 2, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

      Kallie, it is totally different. I knew my son didn’t “need” breastmilk anymore, and I don’t really have to replace it with anything. But it has been the cornerstone of our relationship for three years! I don’t know how our relationship will look from here on out, but last night we ate cake, I took some photos, and we talked about being all done with mommy milk. This morning when he woke up, he said, as he has for months now, “Mommy, me be baby and have mommy milk?” I had to tell him no, we don’t do mommy milk anymore, and reminded him of our weaning day. Definitely bittersweet.

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