My Weaning Story: Honoring The Last Time

Me and my youngest from the week he stopped nursing.

Brianna Westover, Martinez, California

Tonight, as I cuddled up with my three-year-old (3 years, 9 months and 1.5 weeks to be exact), he asked for milkies. I happily agreed and he latched on. After suckling for a bit, he broke his latch and said, “This one not working. Try other one?” We switched to the other side. “This one not working either. Why?” I held him close and let him know we could cuddle, and he asked for a cup of water. I told him that sometimes when you get to be a big boy, milkies go away. We cuddled until he fell asleep.

My first child nursed for 13 months. I had to end our nursing relationship because of necessary medication. My second child nursed for 26 months. Pregnancy dried up my supply and she wasn’t interested in dry nursing. This little one? I knew he was my last and wanted to do my best to let him wean naturally.

I feel like I’ve fought to preserve breastfeeding with him since the beginning. His journey wasn’t an easy one. When he was born, there were complications that led to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and life support. Still reeling from my first cesarean birth, as well as general anesthesia, I painstakingly attempted to collect drops of colostrum while he was transported miles away to a hospital.

The first time I held baby #3.

Toddlerhood dished out continued challenges. I struggled with an abusive marriage that recently meant our night nursing has only happened half the week, as the other half is spent with his father due to shared custody.

And here we are. My breastfeeding journey is at an end. I knew it was coming. Hand expression has only yielded drops. He asked for milkies less and less. Early this morning, he was either too sleepy to notice there was nothing left or the last drops were enough to make him happy.

I’m still cuddling him as I type this. I take the time to treasure his sweet smell and softness of his face. I’m so grateful that I have been able to nourish and bond with my babies at my breast. I’m also grateful that I was able to know and honor my last time. So often we blink and don’t even acknowledge that it’s the last time your baby will crawl, the last time they call you mama instead of mom (for those that use that name), but I get to bask in the connection of our very special last this morning: the sun peeking through the blinds on his chubby face, the way his suckle became lazy as he slid off my breast and into a deep sleep.

It’s been a cumulative seven years of nursing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Me with the three children.

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