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Reflections on weaning

It’s been two weeks since you last tried to breastfeed.

It’s been much longer since you last nursed.

I can’t remember our last feed.

25 months almost to the day, you had your last attempt to see if there was anything left in your beloved ‘boobies’ and as you latched on and came off almost as quickly, you declared to me and your dad and big brother, ‘nothing there’ before diving off my lap and jumping onto the bed and laying down next to daddy and and bro to enjoy a bedtime story instead.

You weren’t sad.

You were very matter of fact about it.

There was simply nothing there now and you left it at that.

The warning signs were there, you’d been reporting for weeks that, ‘not much there, mum’.

You seemed happy enough to get what you could while it lasted.

My supply had been in steep decline as the pregnancy hormones ramped up.

Weaning by pregnancy it seems, is what I do.

My first was weaned at 16 months due partially to pregnancy but also with a heavy push by me due to near- unbearable nursing aversions (no doubt pregnancy related).

I night weaned my extremely high needs guy when he was 15 months and though I sought gentle advice and supported my baby throughout, I have to admit now, in hindsight, that the process was indeed quite traumatic for my guy. Not just in the ‘I don’t want you taking away my boob’ kind of way, but in a more distressing, ‘I still really needed that mama, I wasn’t really ready’ kind of way.

I don’t harbour guilt for this though. I did the best I could in the circumstances and with the knowledge and experiences I had.

This second baby though, has really highlighted to me how gentle the weaning process can be, even if it is parent-led in parts, once a child is ready for the change.

Night weaning my second was a breeze at nearly 20 months. I could still feed him to sleep. I had just worked hard to ensure he understood that once he had night boobie, the boobs would sleep until the sun came up. It took exactly zero tears for him to get the hang of it. He was ready. He was able to understand. He felt supported and capable.

As far as day weaning went, well ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ worked brilliantly with my first (who actually Day weaned easily after the night weaning was done), but my second guy never needed me to offer, as he asked about 50 billion times a day, so I found distraction and delaying (we can have boobie when we get home from the library) was a better technique for us. Once the frequency decreased, it decreased rapidly, as did my supply thanks to pregnancy and the normal drop you’d expect from reduced nursing.

Before I knew it, we were only nursing twice a day- one before his lunchtime nap and once at bedtime.

Then his reports began, ‘not much there, mum’ and we had to find new ways for him to find sleep.

I wish I could recall the last time he had a big long nursing session in my arms, but I can’t.

I had no idea it was our last.

I can’t even remember the last time he fell asleep nursing.

I had no idea it was our last.

Because weaning was so gradual and slow, with very steady decline and no rapid changes, I didn’t even feel the effect on my boobs nor my emotions. No weaning blues like I had with my first after such a rapid wean. Certainly no sore boobs or discomfort.

Just a faded memory of what was our 25 month nursing journey.

A journey I shall treasure for life.

Through tongue tie, oversupply, severe engorgement, mastitis, mastitis again, growth spurts, all-night sessions, sick baby , scared baby, sore baby, teething baby, snuggly baby, busy baby, tired baby … nursing saw us through.

And so, as I reflect on a time now in the past as I look forward to the dawning of a new journey later this year, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and awe. I will be forever grateful for getting to nurse my babies and in awe of the incredible power of breastfeeding and the role it has played in my mothering experience.

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