I think my son would have breastfed until he was five. Going into breastfeeding when he was first born, I intended to let him self-wean. He latched right on within minutes of birth and at times it felt like he was never going let go!
He has been a lover of the boob since day one. I know how fortunate I am that breastfeeding came easily for us; it didn’t for my partner and our daughter. I watched them struggle for weeks, feeling pretty useless, until they finally found their groove. She was a champion after that though, until one morning at thirteen months when she decided that was that and quit. Not so with our little behemoth boy. Like I said, he probably had years left in him.
And then it became clear that what was best for our family was for him to wean, which was hard for me to admit and accept. He wasn’t so good at self-soothing. He wasn’t deeply bonding with his other mama because he wanted me to be his primary/only caretaker. I wasn’t getting to put my daughter to bed as often as I wanted to. Not to mention my boobs were really no longer my own in any capacity. So I weaned him cold turkey one weekend when he was almost 18 months old.
Nobody really talks about this end of breastfeeding. I went into it knowing a lot about the biology involved, the lactation support available, the legal protections in place, the pumping, the clothing with little clip closures, but literally nothing about weaning. I was nervous and scared, even though I knew it was the right decision at the right time for us. And it was hard, but not for long.
I cried the last morning I fed him. Tears everywhere. I kissed him and loved on him and told him we’d both be ok. For his part, he had no idea what was going on. I went away for the weekend so the temptation would be minimized and we could both be distracted by other things, which actually worked pretty well. According to my partner, he did awesome and was already showing signs of greater independence. Thankfully I was with my mommy who basically held me in her arms while I shed a few more tears. Then we had a drink.
The most challenging moment came the first morning I was home. When I got him out of his crib and we started playing on the floor: he grabbed the front of my shirt, pulled hard and said “Mommy please” – and I almost lost all control. My partner swooped him up to do something else while I composed myself. Then he was over it, just like that. He’s asked a few times since then, but I tell him the mommy milk is all gone and we move on to something else.
So no, I wasn’t really ready, but it turns out he really was. He’s doing awesome – getting the hang of the self-soothing thing, oozing sweetness all over his mama, taking the independence of toddlerhood by storm. As importantly, I feel like I’m able to give time and energy to everyone in the family equally now, including myself. My boobs though, those don’t feel like mine again yet. When does that happen?