I was only about a year into nursing my first baby when I started trying to figure out how to get away with not nursing her. Although I enjoyed aspects of nursing – the rapid weight loss, not having a menstrual period, the quality time spent with my baby – it just felt like it was almost time to wrap up nursing, especially since she had just started to bite during nursing sessions. No matter what I did to correct her misbehavior – pulling her off mid-bite, pretending to cry, raising my voice – nothing seemed to faze her.
So a few months after my daughter's first birthday, I decided to stop nursing cold turkey. I had initially considered following some of the advice I found on the La Leche League website that recommended weaning my daughter off slowly, but the constant biting and laughing when I tried to discipline her for hurting me helped me decide to just cut her off completely. But I quickly realized that it was going to be much harder for me to wean my daughter than it was for her.
For weeks I had been planning my break away from nursing, weighing the pros and the cons of weaning her. There was definitely a part of me that was scared to stop nursing my daughter, because I was afraid of losing our one-on-one time and our strong nursing bond. But I also knew that putting an end to nursing meant I would be able to reclaim a part of my body that had long ago stopped feeling like it was mine.
I knew what I would be losing, but I didn’t think I'd be losing it as quickly as I did.
I could finally pack away the nursing tops and nursing bras. I could finally say goodbye to breast pads and the pump that had accompanied me to work every single day for more than a year. Ending breastfeeding also meant I would most likely get my period again soon, which would allow me to start infertility treatments to try for another baby. All these weaning pros just sounded so good that I could no longer see the downside of not nursing any longer.
I knew that ending nursing meant I'd no longer hear my daughter call "Mama, mama" and run to me when I walked through the door after a busy day at the office. I knew it meant we'd have no more one-on-one time on the couch while I nursed her, or cozy moments in bed as I nursed her to sleep. I knew what I would be losing, but I didn’t think I'd be losing it as quickly as I did, and I didn't anticipate that I'd no longer be a source of comfort for my daughter.
I had envisioned weaning as a long, drawn-out process, in which my daughter would cry and have a fit after I told her no more breastfeeding. Within one week, however, my daughter was done. She stopped asking for milk and she no longer sought out my breasts for comfort. My daughter suddenly didn’t need me; she simply needed someone to hold her.
I used to be the only one who could comfort my daughter. I used to be the only one who could soothe her pain and talk her down from a full-on meltdown. Now, she'd turn to anyone but me for comfort.
Just like that, my daughter started going to my husband instead of me when she needed to be calmed down after taking a fall or getting frustrated. I used to be the only one who could comfort her. I used to be the only one who could soothe her pain and talk her down from a full-on meltdown. Now, she'd turn to anyone but me for comfort. I missed her, and it hurt that she didn’t seem to miss me.
It took me a little over a month to feel comfortable with this new norm. I learned to accept and eventually feel proud that my daughter no longer relied on only me to comfort her when she needed a hug or my husband to help calm her down. What I eventually realized, however, was that just because her bond with my husband was growing stronger, it did not necessarily mean my bond with her was weakening. It was different – but just as strong, and I have weaning to thank for that.