I Finally Weaned My Son. It Only Took 2-Years And 4-Months... OK. Four Days.

It's official, I Got My Boobies Back! I am no longer breastfeeding. That's right, this time last week I was still nursing the two year and four-month-old man-child.  I just couldn't stop, and Ollie sure as hell didn't want to.  It was something special, and something inside me said, keep going. Then, last Wednesday, that little voice FINALLY said, it's time. Of course, Ollie didn't think it was time, but after a few days, he was OK with it too. While the decision was bittersweet, I know in my heart, it was time to finally wean him completely from nursing.

I cannot believe I nursed my son for over two years! I honestly HATED nursing  those first few weeks. It was hard, and painful and tiring and annoying, but a little voice inside my heart, and FTD, said, Don't give up. Keep going.  Every day, I would tell myself I could stop tomorrow, just keep it up today. Then, around the 6-week point, both Ollie and I had the hang of it, so the little voice said, good job, you can quit at the 6-month point. Since I never really actually liked nursing, I kept up this little game of, "you can quit when..." until I was so close to Ollie's first birthday, I decided I could make it, then that would be it!

Wrong.  When Ollie's first birthday came around, I couldn't quit. The little voice said, Keep going.

The little voice was coming from my heart. I was finally at a point where nursing was second nature, and worked like a charm to get Ollie to sleep.  Not to mention, such an important source of my son's nutrition. He also HATED cows milk, almond and soy milks, and all bottles in general, so the weaning process was not going to be easy, even if I wanted to. So, I kept on nursing, without any real idea of when I would quit. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nursing until two, and even beyond, is recommended, so I felt like I was not outside of the norm.

Throughout the next year, I slowly began weaning Ollie from six feedings a day, down to one or two. I started by not nursing him in the morning when he woke up.  I would make breakfast immediately instead. Next, I cut out nap-time nursing. He was not fond of this, but after about three days, he would fall asleep rocking in my arms. But his bedtime nursing was special for both of us, plus it never failed at getting him to sleep, and fast.

I was always told that he would wean himself, so I waited...and waited... and waited, but it NEVER came! I was convinced by 18-months he was just comfort nursing; He didn't need it, but only did it because he was used to it. So over the next couple of months I tried to wean him a couple of times and failed. I needed help if I was actually going to wean him, so I emailed, Cindy Leclercan International Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 1993, who I had the pleasure of working with when I reviewed her App for new moms called NuuNest. (I cannot recommend it enough.)  She told me not to worry, that I would know when it was time, and that when it came I would have to be diligent. She shared the story of how she weaned her children, and promised me that I would know.  And that whether or not I did it today, or when Ollie was 4, I was an awesome mom and that it would be the right time, and not a day too early or too late. 

At first I was annoyed by her saying, you will know when it's time, and not, DO IT, DO IT NOW! And here's how... But now that I have done it, she was right. (Of course she was right!  20 years of Lactation expertise and all...)  Over a six-month period I emailed Cindy four or five times, saying I think it's time!  And she would send back kind and encouraging words, but looking back, I see now that she could tell from my emails, that it really was not time.  Most likely because I was stopping for all of the wrong reasons.  

Sometimes, I felt the pressure to stop because my son was a week over one, and in America that is just WAY too long.  Sometimes, I wanted to stop because I was sick of always having to be the one to put Ollie to sleep. Or because I wanted to go back on my anxiety medicine when times got tough.  Or  because I wanted have my body back, and go out with my girlfriends or to dinner with FTD BEFORE 8:30 or 9pm when Ollie would go to sleep. Truthfully, all of those reasons were good, and cause for quitting, but just were not enough individually to make me stop.  Mostly because the reasons for continuing outweighed the reasons for stopping.  

I loved nursing Ollie.  I loved the fact that I was passing on so many amazing nutrients to him.  I LOVED that nursing could get him to sleep easily every time. (Noticing the sleep theme here? It really worked like a charm!)  I LOVED that we shared this bond.  I loved that he got so much comfort from it. I LOVED holding him close every single night. I loved that after all of the struggle and pain I went through to nurse him in the first place, now it was easy, and wonderful and such a blessing.

Then... the day came.  Ollie had spent the days leading up uninterested, biting, hitting and moving around quite a bit while nursing. On that fourth night I got so frustrated that I stopped him mid-nursing, put him in his crib and walked out of his room.  I told FTD that I was finished nursing and would never do it again, then marched off to the shower, leaving him to get the wild-child to bed.

I kept my word. I can't believe it, but I really did, I stopped nursing that night.

Even though I walked out, never to return to nursing, it was VERY hard to stick with it.  I called family and friends for support.  One of my friends, a pediatric nurse, and fellow nursing momma, replied with this text when I asked if I was doing the right thing," Well yeah! if he can't practice good manners, he has no business in the boobs! That's a life lesson for the boy! ; )"  I love her.  Of course she sent all of the right encouraging words about how amazing I have been for nursing for so long, and this if it's time, then it's time, and don't look back!" And so, I did my best to not look back, only forward.

We are now nearly a week into not nursing and things are going well. Fearful that this would be hard on Ollie emotionally, I have been very comforting and patient. I hold him when he asks, I tell him I love him and am proud of him all day long. The first three days were a struggle. He would scream and cry to nurse, but I stood my ground.  I would offer smoothies and lots of cuddles, and redirect his attention. FTD was fully on board with weaning, and did all he could to help both of us through the process, including dealing with the bed time struggle. By the fourth day, Ollie was fine.  He didn't even try to nurse! That was when I knew for sure I made the right decision. 

Nursing my son will always be one of my proudest achievements in life. I fought hard for it, and worked hard to keep it up, and oh my goodness was it ever worth it! I also know that I made the right decision to nurse him for as long as I did, and would tell any extend nursing mother, Good for you! Keep it up... you will know when it's time.  And when it's time, you will do it. Don't worry if you try and fail, just take that as a sign that is really wasn't time. But when it is...The first few days will most likely be hard for both of you, but by the fourth day, things will be much easier.  I just kept telling myself that he could not nurse forever, and that it was time.  Yes, it was definitely time...  

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com


Sheez said...

Chance upon your blog today while searching for ZooMoos & I felt in love with your blog right away. I'm a FTM & still nursing my 16mth baby girl. And I'm still keeping the faith for as long as I can.

Unknown said...

Sooooo proud of you for all the hard work and amazing example you've provided- truly astonished and amazed at you both!!! Much love ;)

April McCormick said...

YAY! Welcome to my crazy train/ Keep it up momma. You will know when it's time... Thanks for reading!!

April McCormick said...

Thank you. And thank you for your support all the way through. I could;t have made it, or finally weaned without your wise words and support!

Anonymous said...

Awe. This has me remembering my son and I's "tapered" nursing relationship. It happened much like your story in that we reduced feedings. Then we were only to the after-work feeding. One day around 20 months old, that just didn't happen anymore and he would not longer ask to nurse when we were hanging out in the bed. He did ask once after we had not nursed for nearly a month and I explained to him that he had forgotten how to latch and that mom's "milks" were closed. But he does still remember it! It's going to melt your heart in a few weeks or months when Ollie does something that will let you know that he still remembers :) I can't wait for you to have that feeling! -- Amanda

Cindy said...

I so admire you, April. Well done! Give that man-child a hug for me.

FirstTimeMomandDad.com said...

awwww. This made me all teary. I am really sad it is over. But It was time... and for the best... Truth be told, my heart still aches for those quiet nursing moments. Now, I have to find solace in quiet cuddles... The nursing really was such a blessing.

FirstTimeMomandDad.com said...

You are the greatest, Cindy, thank you for always listening, and taking the time to encourage and support me. XOXOX

cynthia said...

Aww, congratulations for making it so long! It makes me a little sad to think about this coming in my future! I'm a working mom, my son is 13 months and we mostly just nurse before bed now (except on weekends when I nurse him to sleep for naps, too). If I try nursing anywhere besides bed, he tends to be distracted and bites! Not cool, dude.
I'm curious...How does bedtime go now? I am scared to even contemplate weaning because he has never gone to sleep without a boob at night!

April McCormick said...

Thank you, and I know how you feel! Since Ollie was definitely ready, the first three nights he wanted it, but by the fourth night he was able to be rocked to sleep. I started by giving him drinkable yogurts, but that lasted all of two days. Now he is rocked to sleep without any fussing for the boob. But I will say, when he gets upset, he still tries to grab it, not to nurse, but for comfort. We are working on fixing that now.

Good luck and don't worry, you will know when it's time. It's crazy how it works.