Parenting

My Baby is Done Nursing—and I'm Wrecked

A body is covered with a sheet after a mass shooting in which dozens were killed at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1, 2017. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

I’ve been avoiding writing this. It’s almost as if I felt like if I put off writing about it just a little while longer, maybe it wouldn’t be true—that my son would decide he isn’t really done nursing and everything would be perfect again. But he is done and I’m wrecked. He’s probably my last baby and I absolutely enjoyed every moment of his first year of life. I didn’t grumble like I did with the other two about midnight feedings and getting up at all hours. I enjoyed the quiet alone time in the twilight snuggling with my baby, giving him what only I could give. The nursing bond is so strong, so lovely, so precious that I wasn’t ready for it to come to a screeching halt. Normally, as nursing times stretch out there are few months, at least, of naptime nursing or before bed nursing, or both. I only got that for about a week when my busy toddler decided that everything else was far more exciting and he could not sit still for more than nine seconds at a time. Sippy cups have replaced me.

Breastfeeding giant La Leche League says that weaning should be mutually agreeable. Tell that to a busy toddler who just decides one day that he’s done with mom’s milk. I felt like sitting him down to show him the contract I had drawn up in my mind, “Do you see right here? This says mutually agreeable. I am not in agreement, so you’re in breach of this contract. Back on the boob, Mister!” But it doesn’t work that way. My kid literally started pulling my shirt back on and shaking his head “no” at me. (I gotta say, it’s the first time a man ever wanted me to put my shirt back on.) La Leche really needs to start telling moms that nursing lasts until it’s no longer agreeable to one party and then you respect that party, even when you want to scream and cry and immediately get pregnant again.

Perhaps the hardest thing to deal with is that my busy son no longer wants to snuggle with me and won’t sit still long enough for even a long hug. There’s a dog to chase, cereal to dump on the floor, and sisters to kick. I went from having the constant closeness of him to chasing after him and cleaning up in his wake. I wasn’t ready for the sudden and complete separation that weaning wrought and it has left me grieving for the baby that is no more. I know that more fun and other joys lie ahead, but this loss hit me hard and I’m taking a moment to be sad about it.

So to you struggling moms out there dealing with cracked nipples and low milk supply and the myriad of other problems that come with breastfeeding (and even those of you who think it will never end because your toddler can’t get enough of you), just take a moment to soak in the precious moments with your nursing child. It really does end and sometimes sooner than you want it to. Until then, enjoy every minute. You really will miss it.