I wanted my body to myself again. I wanted to be able to drink more than one glass of wine. I wanted to sleep through the night. Oh how I wanted to sleep through the night.
I thought I was ready to be done nursing my son.
My game plan was always to breastfeed for a year then wean him during the day and work towards the night as smoothly as possible. The daytime portion went smoothly. But every time we tried to put my son to bed without nursing him first, it was an absolute catastrophe. He screamed so badly I thought he was going to make himself sick. Cry it out was not an option. He would escalate to full blown hysterics in no time when he caught on to what we were doing. He didn’t need to nurse before naps. Only at bed time. And in the middle of the night when he would inevitably wake up starving.
I was frustrated and tired. So so tired. I googled every possible thing I could do to make this stop.
Then one day it did.
After 15 months of needing me, my son decided he was ready to stop nursing. My husband laid him down while I was in the shower just to see what would happen. By the time I was done showering he was asleep.
I was relieved, cautiously optimistic, and just a little heartbroken all at once.
Each time I woke up in the middle of the night and waited for him to cry and nothing happened, I felt more relief and more sadness. By the time I woke up in the morning and he had slept all night I wasn’t even sure how I felt anymore.
Yes. I wanted my son to be done breastfeeding. I finally felt a little bit of freedom. I could go away overnight and not worry that he would be distraught. I could take the good medicine if I got sick.
But a chapter of our mother/son relationship was over. And it felt like a shock. It’s like when you are engrossed in a movie and all of a sudden the credits are rolling. And yeah it was a good movie and you’re out of popcorn and probably need a bathroom break…but you weren’t entirely ready for the moment to be over.
When my son stopped nursing, it was entirely his choice. He picked the time and I was just a witness after the fact. And I think I lacked some closure. There was no recognition of the “last time.” I didn’t know it was going to happen that night. And I wonder if I would have been a little more patient with my son the night before if I had known. I just wanted him to go back to sleep so I could do. But now I’m a little sad that I hurried him along.
But that’s what it means to be a mom isn’t it? You never know when your child is ready for the next step until they take it. And you are left sitting in awe of how amazing it is that your child has grown up and accomplished so much when you remember the very first moment you heard their heartbeat before they were even born.
And there will always be joys that are mixed with sadness. Pride that is blended with just a little bit of heartbreak. Because you are doing your job as a mom. And you are doing it well. And your child is growing and thriving and you are helping them to become the amazing person they are meant to be. But part of you will always miss something special you used to share.
Like when you used to wake up in the middle of the night, sometimes every two hours, and nurse your baby back to sleep. When you were the one thing they wanted and needed to feel safe and happy.
My son decided he was done breastfeeding. He decided he was ready to sleep through the night. I get more sleep and I’m so happy, but I will always miss those times.