Before you came along, I thought a lot about nursing you. The process excited me as I knew it was something important I could do to help your development. I also felt warm and tingly when I thought of the closeness it would create between us. In your first 2 ½ years of life, I have not been disappointed with the experience. Though I was concerned that I would not be able to do it, I have felt a degree of satisfaction that I was able to suckle you and watch you grow as a result of the nourishment you I provided.
My Doubts About Nursing
As a relatively young woman myself, I had other thoughts as well. Would nursing be uncomfortable? Would it fit with my schedule? Would it make me feel tied down? In truth, the process had its moments where I was uncomfortable, either because my nipples were sore or because I was tired of another human being pulling at me. I found that if I was unable to nurse because of my schedule, I could express my milk into bottles and, especially as you got older, I could reduce the number of times per day you nursed. I was surprised to find myself unwilling to bring the process to an end.
The books I read indicated that weaning can occur because either the mother or the child encourages it, but often the process diminishes and finally ends as a result of the desires of both mother and child. While a mother may encourage the baby to use a cup after about seven months old, most children decide when they no longer want the breast. Although there are funny Saturday Night Live sketches about adult children who love to nurse, and whose mothers encourage it, weaning usually occurs between 18-24 months of age in the US. As one article I like to put it, “Natural weaning is an intricate dance between mother and child. It can take months or even sometimes even a year or more to play out.”
Completing The Weaning Process
As I continued to breastfeed you past a year, and then past 18 months, I found myself not that anxious for the process to end. I loved the time together, and enjoyed holding you close when you were ill, sad, or angry. What we both came to realize is that breastfeeding is not just about nutrition, but partly about closeness and comfort. As you became more independent in your food choices, you still needed my hugs and squeezes and kisses. That has become a part of our dance as you pulled away from the breast more and more and then finally stopped asking for it.
I love seeing you grow up into a strong, funny, healthy girl; I have no desire to hold you back. As much as I have enjoyed watching your personality develop and your confidence grow as you learn more about life, I sometimes miss the early days of our dance, when we first met each other. I’m glad you wanted to breastfeed as long as you did, as the process helped me as much as it helped you. Thanks for hanging in there, even when I was just learning how to make you happy and provide for your needs.
You’ll always be my baby, Mila. I love you.