My baby weaned herself. It happened in the middle of January, so it isn't exactly new news. But someday I want to be able to tell her how it happened, so I figure I had better write it down. This post has been in various stages of development for months, crazy how unable I am to sit down and write a focused piece right now.
I had fully planned on breastfeeding for at least two years. Then after that, I was planning on letting Scout nurse as long as she wanted, letting her take the lead on when she was ready to be done with that comfort and support. I had stopped pumping long ago (around a year) and she wasn't drinking any bottles. She drank cow's milk out of a sippy cup and food like the crazy fast growing toddler that she is. This helped nursing feel much more sustainable for me; it was no longer a stressful back of the mind wondering if I making enough to nourish my baby, it became solely a time for us to snuggle up, slow down, reconnect, and be sure that she was getting lots of extra vitamins, and nutrients. It reassured me that she was getting antibodies and I was helping her build her immune system even stronger, I get exposed to a lot of crappy germs on a daily basis. She didn't nurse that frequently. First thing in the morning, if she got up before I left for work. It was a nice morning snuggle up before the crazy fast moving day. Right when I got home from work, a nice way for us to reconnect. And just before bed, perfect way to get her to relax and be just a little bit more ready for sleep. It was a good routine for both of us and I wasn't at all in a hurry to change it.
Then she got sick. A stuffy nose and plugged up ears. Her and Andrew both got this terrible high fever and body aches. it was a bad bug. On a Tuesday, she kept asking to nurse, but then would just cry instead of nurse. Didn't even try to nurse, just told me to "shut them" and a lot of "no mommy". We figured that her ears/nose were bugging her and kept trying to help her relieve the symptoms. Over the next week, she didn't nurse at all. She kept asking then changing her mind, slowed down on the asking, then I started offering and she would say no. On Saturday or so of that week as we were getting ready for bed, she told me "no more nursing girl" and I started realizing that she might be really be done. That it might not be just a phase. She didn't ask again, but I offered at our usual times. She always said no. There was one day, in the early part of the next week, when she nursed, for 5-10 minutes. She held my eye contact the whole time, somehow telling me that she was done with this. And she hasn't nursed since. She's talked plenty about it, saying funny things about how "nursing nice", "snuggle up", and talking plenty about how my "boo-boos" are for nursing and that they are "so nice". She's even said she wants to nurse, to which I say "ok" and get all ready. But she just pretends to nurse and then laughs. In her own words, she's a "no more nursing girl" and is all grown up.
Reflecting on this change for us, it's made me sad and proud all at the same time. Although I didn't have it anywhere in my head that it was time to be done nursing, I wanted it to be her decision. I wanted her to feel like she was ready to let go of that part of being a baby, that she could be snuggled and comforted differently. So I respect that she is really done, she has not seemed to miss it one bit. Now, she wants us to read her books, look at pictures, and do so many big kid things. We "talk" when she's feeling sad and give hugs and kisses, but she doesn't need to nurse anymore. So while I'm sad that she's getting so grown up and is feeling that much more independent, I'm also proud that she knows what she wants and needs.