I have been talking about breastfeeding for almost 6 years. I have visited the topic of weaning via other blogs and stories shared by you. But for some reason I felt a distance from this word. I know that I will one day soon not breastfeed. I do know that even if I do absolutely nothing to wean them, or absolutely everything to prevent them from stopping, that they will stop soon. As we say in the breastfeeding world, they won’t be breastfeeding in college! This knowledge is stored somewhere in the back of my head making my heart feel like weaning is this far off thing.
If you don’t know, I breastfeed Jack who will be 6 years old in July 2017 and Exley who will be 3 years old in June 2017. Exley nurses 3,000 times at night and 5,000 times during the day. I don’t think he gets a ton of milk at this point. I can’t express much and it feels to me like he is just hanging out when he is latched on. I know it feels good to him and I’m OK with that. Breastfeeding is so much more than food! Anytime he sits on my lap he automatically turns to pull my shirt down. It’s a reflex! I often need to put up boundaries when I feel touched out. I distract him with food or activities and I can be seen standing at my counter a lot during the day so that he doesn’t get any ideas.
Jack only nurses to sleep at night although he complains of this often. If I do let him nurse during the day it feels awful with his giant mouth swallowing my boob and he really has no idea how to latch anymore anyway. I tell him straight up, “Jack, it doesn’t feel good, your mouth is really big now!” He just laughs and walks away. The recent times he has latched on during the day he is there for a few seconds when he realizes he has no idea what to do with his mouth. At night he has a lazy latch, I tell him he can be there for 2 minutes and then I put my arm around him. The nursing aversion with him has been strong since the birth of Exley. I manage as best I can.
Jack can fall asleep without nursing. He does it when he has a cold or when I am gone. He complains, but only for a few minutes before he is asleep. I could push him to stop nursing at night and be completely done with our breastfeeding journey, but I know he’d be upset. I know it still serves as a comfort and as a part of our relationship for now. I know I would spend much time answering his teary complaints about why he can’t have “boobie.” It doesn’t seem worth it. I don’t think he is too old to breastfeed. I don’t think breastfeeding at his age causes harm (quite the contrary!). I don’t think it’s weird or gross or strange even though I know much of society does. I don’t strive to please society.
This is Jack! He is the one who I struggled with for so many months. The one who I thought I was going to fail. The one who had me up all night searching the web for breastfeeding information to save our breastfeeding relationship that was going to end any day. A few hours after he was born I was told I wasn’t making enough milk and that he was crying because he was hungry. I was given formula to supplement with and a garbage full of it to bring home. I was confused and scared and had been told by many doctors and nurses that my body was failing my baby. Through all of that searching the web I found a huge community of moms. I found reliable information that proved my body wasn’t failing, but that my doctors and nurses sure did. We kicked the formula and were headed straight for my goal of 1 year of breastfeeding. But when we got there I couldn’t figure any good reason to stop. And through all the ups and downs and corkscrews and barrel rolls breastfeeding was one thing that always made sense to us.
So here I am. About to pass through that final stage of Jack being completely weaned. I know I am here. I know there aren’t anymore breastfeeding phases we will go through together. I know that the next thing we will go through is fully developing our non-breastfeeding relationship. And yet it still seems far away! Maybe it’s because each day as a parent is so long. But the cliche is always right, the years went by fast. When breastfeeding is finally behind us I will look back on it as a blur. I just know it. Even though it went on for years and years. It’s just like every other part of this parenting thing.
And then it will be Exley coming up quick. And then one day I will get dressed in the morning and realize that I can pick any shirt I want. When will this day come? I have no idea. We never know when the last time will be. When will be the last time they sleep in our bed? When will be the last time they unlatch? When will be the last time we pick them up? One day I will pick up one of my boys and then I will set him down. He will run away from me toward whatever has caught his eye. And that will be the last time I will ever hold him. And we never know when it’s coming.