The End of an Era... And the Start of a New One {#WorldBreastfeedingWeek}

I'm done with breastfeeding... forever. It's a bittersweet realization. I'll never have a little one smiling up at me, sharing a special bond ever again. Yeah, I'm done having babies. Little Guy weaned about a month ago, at 32 months. I knew it was coming. He'd go a few days without even asking. Then, suddenly, he'd need it constantly. But, the need to nurse slowly dissipated as he changed from a toddler to a little boy.

The final blow was his first full-blown cold. Yeah, he'd never been sick before this. Maybe the occasional runny nose or fever that lasted 2-3 days, but I blame those on teething - a new tooth always popped out withing a few days of his "illness". Oh, did I mention that the only vaccine he's ever had was for polio. (It's a terrible disease that is still around. We live near an international airport and come into contact with a lot of tourists. Plus, his grandparents remember all too clearly the effect that polio had on friends, family, and even themselves.) ANYWAY, I attribute his perfect health to breastfeeding - I can't tell you how many illnesses I had that were never passed on. But, I believe that his first cold can be attributed to the lack of nursing. Once his nose was completely blocked and remedies only lasted a few minutes, he just gave up on breastfeeding. I wanted so much to use it as a comfort to him, but it was not to be.

I noticed a direct correlation between his growing independence and weaning. He had started potty training around the same time. We stopped using the stroller when we went somewhere - he could walk (or run!) everywhere. He got into the "No helping me! I do it myself!" stage. He was ready.

My oldest son, who is now 13, quit nursing when he was 15 months old. It coincided with his learning to walk. As soon as he could get himself from here to there, he decided he didn't want to nurse anymore. I was fine with it - I was working full time in a restaurant. He refused to take breast milk from a bottle or a cup, so my husband would bring him to where I worked (thankfully it was only a few blocks from our home) during my breaks so he could be nursed. It was getting tedious - I never really got a break from someone needing something from me. As soon as the nursing session was over, I was back to the customers.

I describe the end of our nursing relationship as "bittersweet" because I was beginning to feel chained down. I was the only one who could put him to bed. I was the only one he would come to when he needed some affection. My husband was beginning to feel very left out. Plus, Little Guy had this habit of clamping down when he fell off to sleep. As if he knew that once he was out, I'd get up from the bed. Oh, and if someone made a loud noise, the telephone rang, or he heard a train outside our window, I knew I'd get bit! Toddler teeth are very sharp and there were many occasions when I'd have to put a little band-aid on one of my nipples. Sexy!!!!

I'm going to miss the closeness we shared, but there are new ways for us to spend special time together. Little Guy loves sitting on my lap and hearing stories. His imagination has grown to the point where I can read him stories from books without pictures and he is following my words closely. I know he's understanding because he'll often stop me from reading to ask a question or add to the story. How cool is that? And, while he's in my lap, he loves sitting in his old nursing position. We still get to share those special smiles.Oh, and even my oldest still has breastfeeding ingrained in him - when I check on him in the middle of the night, he makes little suckling noises in his sleep. I know those noises and remember them clearly - way back to when he was just a tiny little one.

I'm going to really miss breastfeeding. Since it has just started to become an "alternative" to bottles in our area, I'm finding that many pregnant and new moms are asking my advice. I never thought of myself as an ameture lactation consultant, but that seems to be a new part for me to play. In fact, I recently received a phone call from a woman I'd never met before. Screaming newborn in the background, all she could do was cry into the receiver. She finally managed to tell me she couldn't get her little one to eat. I was able to talk her through a nursing session over the phone and she came over to my house as soon as the baby was full - before the next feeding was due. We talked and I was floored by the misinformation she had been fed - by friends, family, and even her doctors. I helped her understand why these "facts" were merely opinions and gave her real facts. I helped her through the next feeding and she left smiling, with a baby who was sound asleep!

I'm going to address these "facts" that she had believed in another post. They are the ones I have heard over and over - in person, online, from health 'professionals', and from well-meaning friends and family. Hopefully, it will help a new mom who is struggling in a misinformed community with no real advice coming toward her.

***Sorry there are no pics. I do not have any. I'm the picture-taker in the family. Please, if you're the family photographer and are still nursing - MAKE someone take pictures of you nursing. I feel cheated that I don't have any, now that it's too late to do anything about. :-(


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