I breastfed all of my babies, so I figured when it came to my third child, I’d have a pretty good idea of what I was doing. I never expected to have any trouble, especially when it came to weaning. My first baby breastfed exclusively up to a year and was weaned off easily by fifteen months. My second decided to self-wean at six months, so I didn’t even have to do anything to get him off the breast. My third, however, is pushing a year and a half and shows no sign of stopping. Weaning my last baby is by far the most difficult, and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.
When we first started breastfeeding, I was certain we wouldn’t make it for very long. He took well to bottles, and I almost had to give up during our first week of breastfeeding because my milk came in late. It took a lot of tears and a few trips to the lactation consultant to even get us started. I wasn’t sure he’d have the same attachment to breastfeeding as his older siblings, so I prepared myself mentally for the fact that this journey might not last as long as the others.
However, he was soon breastfeeding like a champion, and I was beyond grateful for the ability to breastfeed after our rocky start. I relished every moment I got to spend with him. Those quiet moments when I could steal away to feed him were sometimes the only real alone time I got with him, since he was my third and last baby. I would lay there with him and marvel at how tremendous my love for him was, and how I never wanted these moments to end.
Even today, I feel the same way. I don’t want breastfeeding to end.
Weaning my last baby is not necessarily harder because he is more attached to breastfeeding than my other two were. To be honest, if I wanted to I probably could have easily weaned him around a year, like I did with my oldest. He wouldn’t have protested too much. He would have been just fine.
But it’s a bond I don’t want to give up. I treasure the times I get to lay quietly with him, not having to divide my attention between him and his siblings. It’s a rare moment of peace amidst the chaos, and I’m going to ache for it when it’s finally over. I want to extend this process because when he is breastfeeding he is still so clearly my baby. I don’t have to watch him grow up into a toddler. I don’t have to accept the fact that my years as a mother to small babies is over. Yes, he is still growing regardless of whether or not I continue to breastfeed him, but it’s easier in a way to watch him grow when I know he still needs me in this way, even if he only breastfeeds for comfort.
I like to be needed by him. I like to feel like I still have a baby.
I like to be needed by him. I like to feel like I still have a baby. Part of me is so reluctant to let go of this bond because it seems to be keeping him suspended in the realm of infancy. That part of me has been so persuasive that I won't take the necessary steps to make weaning happen, even when I feel like I should.
The truth is, I’d love to wear a normal bra again and not have to worry about leaking or packing a pump when I travel or any of the other small inconveniences of breastfeeding that grind my gears. But when I lay with him, and share that sacred time with his little body curled up against mine, all of those annoyances fade so far into the background I can’t even make out their shape. The sacrifices are worth it. The bond is worth it. Honestly, I don’t care how long it takes to wean my last baby, because I don’t ever want to look back and regret weaning him too soon. It will happen when it needs to happen, and in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the ride.