Wednesday, March 12, 2014

reflections on weaning


*this post contains breastfeeding photos. if you're not comfortable viewing them, then this post probably isn't for you.

I'm so in love with this boy right now. This big boy who is so sweet and full of smiles and hugs and kisses. Things are pretty easy right now, like we've really gotten into a good groove and I'm so thankful for it.

At night, Riggs sleeps from about 7:15 to 7:30 in the morning. He's been sleeping through the night for about two months now and it's wonderful. It also couldn't come at a better time for this tired mama. Pajamas, teeth brushing, picking out bedtime books and then it's time to read them while we rock together. When the books have been read, I turn the lamp off and we get ready to pray together.

"Who do you want to pray for?" I ask him.

"Pray Lyla." He says instantly. "Pray daddy. Pray mama." My heart melts.

He snuggles into my chest while I pray, and then repeats after my "amen". He also says, "night-night God" which almost gives me chills with it's sweetness. Finally, he gives me a hug and a kiss, and then is snuggled right into bed between his owl and his bunny.

"Night-night bunny. Night-night owl. Night-night Riggs." I say as I leave the room. "I'll see you in the morning."

"Night-night mama," he whispers as I close the door. I always leave his room with a smile now.


When he has woken, maybe two or three times, he's needed a quick hug and kiss, and then he snuggles right back down and goes to sleep. 

You may have noticed that I didn't mention nursing in my timeline of pre-bed events. February 16 was the last night he nursed before bed (or anytime at all). I had no idea that it would be the last time, but the next evening as I was putting him to bed, I just couldn't nurse him. It had been a long day, and the thought of the sharp pain I knew would come when he latched lazily on for just a couple minutes of comfort nursing was just too much. After we prayed, he turned to get into 'nursing position'. 

"Milk?" he asked softly.

I don't remember exactly what I told him. I tried to keep as much emotion out of my voice as I explained that he had drank up all the milk and that mama needed a break to get ready to make milk for his baby sister. I do remember that after listening patiently, he asked again in a pleading voice, just that single word, "Milk?". I shook my head and told him it was night-night time.

He seemed to consider for a moment, then turned in my lap towards his bed and said, "bye milk. Night-night milk." I held my breath as I tucked him and his animals into bed, walked out of his room and closed the door. But there were no tears; he went right to sleep as usual. The next night, he said, "no milk?" a slight question in his voice. I said, "no milk. It's for baby sister now." And he went to bed.

Now a month later, he still says, "no milk," after praying, but as a statement rather than a question. It makes me realize how deeply ingrained routines are in children's minds.


At first, it was as if I couldn't really acknowledge that he had actually weaned. I was relieved that it was going so well for him, and I wasn't at the mental 'place' to think about it any more than that. 

Then about four days ago, he was sitting on the couch, reading quietly to himself, looking and acting so much like an independent little boy, rather than a baby or even a toddler. I watched him for a moment, filled with pure love, and then it hit me. I realized I would  n e v e r  nurse him again, that a chapter had been closed in our relationship that will never be reopened. He had taken the first big step away from me, from needing me, needing me to both comfort and nourish him and to foster his rapid growth.

He was thriving. Sitting there on the couch, he was at that moment the master of his own universe, and I wasn't in it. It hurt and I cried, silent tears rolling down my cheeks as I watched him and felt a distance from him that I had never felt before. 

I realize that he will still need me in many other ways throughout the (hopefully) many years of his life, in his childhood and well into adulthood. Yet there is just something so personal and magical about breastfeeding, that binds mother and baby together in a unparalleled way. The realization that I would never have that again was devastating, even though I knew it was the natural progression of things, that it was inevitable.

I took about ten or fifteen minutes to mourn, and then I felt myself begin to heal and move on. To be thankful that I had the opportunity to not only be a mother, but to nurse with ease just past his second birthday. To be joyful that he was growing and thriving physically and emotionally and that I would be (Lord willing) blessed enough to watch him on his journey.


*I want to take a moment to mention that I in no way mean to belittle mothers who don't nurse their babies, either directly or indirectly, through this post. I wrote this from a very deep place in my soul and it is based simply on my experiences and feelings as a mama. Please know that I respect all mothers who care for and nourish their babies, no matter how they go about doing it. xoxo




20 comments:

  1. Just beautiful, Whitney. Isla self weaned at 14 months and I still remember the last time she nursed. It's such a bittersweet ending to your child's babyhood.

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  2. Lovely post. I am nursing my now 1 year old and will have to wean her soon... I have OCD and really need to get back to taking my meds. This had me crying so much, the realization of never nursing that little one again is hard and something I am trying to grasp. Beautiful pictures! Such a sweet boy, great job nursing 2 years, that is amazing!

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  3. Thank you Maggie! All of motherhood has been so much more bittersweet for me than I ever imagined and weaning is just another (big) part of that. I kept waiting for Riggs to self-wean and when I was finally done physically, I had a little guilt that was luckily alleviated by Riggs taking it so well.

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  4. Thanks Savanna, and congratulations on nursing through what I imagine can be very frustrating circumstances. Sorry to make you cry, haha, it really is so emotional to be a mom! Everyday that I don't cry tears of happiness or frustration I feel like it multiple times :)

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  5. Loved this post, it is beautiful! I am nursing my 15 month old now and hope that when the time comes to wean, it goes as smoothly. It was also nice to read that your little guy just started sleeping through the night a short time ago as my little lady still does not! I feel like I am doing something wrong sometimes because everyone else I know has a little one that sleeps right through the night and can't believe Ella doesn't so it is nice to know someone else has been there! :)

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  6. Whitney these post is so lovely and heartfelt. I'm in tears over here. The way you worded everything is so perfect for the way it feels. Ben is *almost* weaned and it is so hard and bittersweet, but he's ready. Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm working on a long post similar to this and I am definitely going to link back here because your words capture it so perfectly. You're such a great mama.

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  7. Oh Whitney this post is SO beautiful!! I truly miss nursing Hazel and felt that we weaned too early in some ways, she weaned herself at about 14 months, but she was ready and has never looked back. I'm really looking forward to having that bond again with our next little girl! Its such a precious time.

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  8. Weaning posts are by far some of the most teary posts for me to read. Your account is just lovely. I think it's so sweet that Riggs is giving up his milk for his baby sister. What a sweet little boy. We're still nursing over here, but I think it's mostly out of a lack of the routine that you spoke about. It's so wonderful that you give him routine everyday and that he's so secure in that. I think I'll be facing all the same feelings that you are once we're settled again and Ev really weans. I went back and read your words twice because they're just so beautiful. I hope you're finding it easier to deal with the separation each day. It is so hard to watch them grow so fast.

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  9. I absolutely LOVED nursing both my boys. I understand every one of your sentiments. I've cried those tears too. It stings a little to watch our babies grow up and need us less and less. It's hard to let go! But somehow knowing that it's supposed to be this way makes it bearable while also making me appreciate what a gift each stage is.

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  10. This was such a beautiful post!! I can identify with every emotion. My boys both weaned themselves much before I was ever ready for the to be done nursing. Now with Avalon I can already tell she will follow suit and I am so upset about it. I love breastfeeding, I love that time together. I know I will get even more emotional when she actually does wean :(

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  11. I'm in tears. My guy is just 4 months, but i know the day he weans will come too fast. It really is a magical bond.

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  12. Oh man, I'm sure you already know I was in tears the entire time reading through this post! I still am as I write this! Weaning is so bittersweet, and I like the way you are choosing to focus on how amazing the journey was instead of just the ending. Those photos are absolutely beautiful. I wish I would've documented my breastfeeding journey with Piggie better, I think I only have a photo or two. Love this post Whitney, thank you for sharing your weaning story!

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  13. What a wonderful post! You brought tears to my eyes. Being just four months in to nursing my first child; weaning isn't even on my radar. Reading this has definitely given me some pause. I absolutely LOVE it and imagine it will be quite emotional for me once the time comes to wean. The photos of you nursing Riggs are beautiful. Simply beautiful.

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  14. Sweet words Megan, thank you! I know what you mean about the sleeping through the night thing. Me and my two sisters slept through the night from about 8 weeks, as did both my nephews (who my sister nursed on demand but didn't cosleep with). Riggs slept with us until about 8 months, then woke up about two times a (12-hour) night to nurse, then one time a night, then slept through about half the week, waking the other nights once to nurse. It was all up to him and I don't regret following his lead. Don't feel bad, every child is different!

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  15. Thank you so much Andrea! It's hard to put such deep feelings into words, and so I waited until they just came out on their own to write this. I can't wait to read your story and I hope the transition goes smoothly for you!

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  16. Aww Hannah thank you! Aren't you excited to have a little newborn to nurse and snuggle? I know I am! And it's awesome that Hazel weaned herself so happily :)

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  17. I imagine nursing has been a lifesaver during you guys' big move! It really is the most bittersweet thing ever, this being a mama. Thank you for your sweet words Andrea!

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  18. It is so hard to let go, even thought it's what's best. And it does make it easier to let go of each stage since the new one is so fun in new ways :)

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  19. Aww, I bet it will be hard! They can be so ready to grow up sometimes! Glad you were able to have such a great breastfeeding relationship with each on of them:) Thank you for your sweet words!

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  20. Jennifer Lightfoot FountainMarch 15, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    This is beautiful! Tears sprang to my eyes! I am currently still nursing my 2.5 year old triplets and know that it won't be long before they wean someday soon. I dread it and anticipate it. Oh, the precious, precious memories I have from these years! <3

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