Weaning the Last Baby
Written by Carolyn Honea, IBCLC in 2014
It happened slowly after her first year - she gradually stopped asking for middle-of-the night nursings by the time she was 2 years old. At the same time, as her belly filled with grown up food from the table, she didn't rely on every-two-hour breastfeeding as her primary source of nutrients. It was just the pre-sleep feedings, morning wake-up nursing, and few scattered comfort nursings that remained over the past year. Even those were gradually slipping away. So naturally, so slowly, slipping away as she developmentally matured and became more interested in playing and keeping up with her three older siblings.
When we finally got down to just a bedtime breastfeeding in recent months, I began to realize the end may be near. Not just the end of breastfeeding this baby-child, but the end of all breastfeeding. She's our last baby, and she's two and a half. Our hearts and home are full of four loud, lovable kids. I've spent a combined 8 years breastfeeding my babies, and don't regret a single day of the 2920 days snuggling their soft, warm bodies against mine and providing them the special nurturing and protection only a mother can give with her milk. I feel so blessed that I have been able to enjoy breastfeeding and that 3 of my 4 children weaned on their own at a gentle pace when we both were ready to let go of that last string tying us to their babyhood.
Not that all the years in the thick of constant pregnancy, breastfeeding, and little ones has been easy - motherhood is a demanding, exhausting and intense marathon…one that will continue many years for me. But that initial sprint through the baby years is ending, and I feel peace closing that season. Its a bittersweet peace, no doubt. As much as I love the conversation and independence that come with big kids, I will always treasure…and miss...the sweet innocence of a brand new, tiny human being.
To all the mamas out there who are struggling to make it through the overwhelming first few months of breastfeeding - wondering if you can make it - wondering if you will ever get to the place where you can enjoy nursing and soak up the experience - stick with it. You'll get there. And if you are experiencing difficulties please reach out for help. Its worth it. Its worth the months and years of sweet memories and the irreplaceable health benefits you are storing up for both you and your child.