It happened so slowly that I barely noticed it. But in hindsight I guess I also grieved it slowly. Every day. Across months. And said good-bye minute by minute, session by session…until, finally, my little nursling was no more.
A little more than two years and little W is, I’d say, officially weaned. For the last several months my energetic toddler has nursed less and less, and still less. Our once three-times-a-day sessions dropped down to just morning and night. And, when he was just as eager to wake up and eat breakfast we dropped another session and just nursed before bed. And finally, when he was just as eager to start reading books with Daddy…
We were done. There were no more nursing sessions left to drop.
And much to my surprise, I was OK. I am OK.
There were so many times leading up to this day that I’d look down at him while he was nursing and my heart would just about burst in my chest. Explode. Threatening to scatter tiny fragments of my soul across his serene nursery. I know. That sounds so dramatic. But two things: (1) if you’ve ever self-sustained a tiny human (from the breast or bottle) you know what I’m talking about and (2) nursing makes you all sorts of hormone-induced-crazy. So, it was the silent kind of catastrophe that usually just resulted in big, silent tears seeping from my eyes while my little one happily nursed away none the wiser. I was already heartbroken and dreading something I knew would come…
But I just couldn’t imagine the day we’d no longer nurse. The day we’d no longer share this indescribable bond.
It was, after all, a bond forged over engorged, bloody nipples…clogged ducts…and mastitis. A bond forged through what seemed like endless all-nighters, cluster feedings and days where we spent more time nursing than we didn’t (and I have the app to prove it…). Across a seemingly endless journey from 32As to 32Es..every size in between…and arriving at my new boobs that more closely resemble tiny, shriveled grapes.
But it came and went. As I knew it would. As it had for many of my friends, whether it was before it ever started…or sooner than they would have liked. I’d grieved with them, too, and felt joy for them as they found new ways to connect and keep their special bond alive. But I was so surprised that I almost didn’t even notice. It happened so gradually. So peacefully. Not at all the dramatic explosion my anticipation foreshadowed. Thankfully.
I know that, each and every day, he’s growing and changing and developing and evolving – just like our relationship. But, nursing or not, I know that our bond is just as strong. We just express it in different ways now. A running hug from across the room. A kiss on my imaginary “boo boo.” A snuggle before bed.
And, you know what? It kind of feels good to be wanted just for me.
But, honestly, little W will still ask for milk every once and a while…even though these shriveled milk-makers aren’t making anymore milk. And I happily oblige because I miss having his little head lay on my chest as we snuggle. So when it happens, I breathe in every second of his warmth and am grateful for just one more moment.