When it’s time to stop—the emotional decision to end our breastfeeding journey
I can’t believe how bittersweet this is, how much courage it takes to stop. Nobody can prepare you for it, mamas.
I’m watching him sleep. He is nestled into the soft, squishy place that is my bosom. His safe space, and his sister’s favorite place, too.
I feel the weight of my decision to wean them both, laying so heavy on my heart.
I am counting each and every eyelash, distracting myself with the beautiful way he puckers his lips in deep sleep—always looking for the breast, even while he dreams. I wonder what it is Odin dreams of. Of me maybe? Or perhaps the warm white honey that flows from me?
I worry that if I wean him, he may stop dreaming of me. He may stop needing me. I worry that I won’t be able to bring him the same comfort or joy in a simple cuddle. I wrestle my thoughts, walking a fine line between guilt and a silent certainty. A part of me feels it is time.
Three years of pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding; a year of that juggling the constant feeding of a toddler and a baby. My breastfeeding journey has been undoubtedly special, that I won’t deny. It may not be for everyone, but it is hands down one of the most primal forces that has ever been within me. It forged powerful bonds that are indescribable, a symbiotic dance that left me feeling just as fulfilled, just as nourished each time they fed.
But I am ready for my body to be mine again.
A few weeks ago I felt the beginning of aversion. The incessant pulling and biting made me cringe each time they took my nipple into their little mouths. It is so hard feeling this way, knowing how well this breast milk sustains them. I feel terrible that I may be depriving them of necessary nutrition in some way. Might they feel rejection? Will I upset them? The nagging guilt of motherhood loomed at every corner. But I knew—deep down, I knew—it was time.
This wasn’t my first attempt at weaning. The fifth, at least. But each time I would fall into what felt natural to me. Usually after a day my hormones raged, begging me to bring my babies in to feed. And so, I did.
This time felt different.
I sat with Ruby, I explained what was to happen and how it might make her feel sad, but that mommy loved her dearly and she was welcome at the all-you-can-get cuddle buffet. She seemed to grasp the concept but struggled. She had always been a boobie monster and a mommy’s girl. I knew this would be harder for her than Odin. And I was right.
For days she begged me to let her have just one more milky. ‘Mommy please, I miss them so much!’ I felt the hormones surge, I fought the urge to nurse her. This is the first time I remained steadfast in my decision and distracted her with her favorite treats.
Odin on the other hand seemed unphased by it all. Almost overnight he gets ill with an infection and all of a sudden wanted the breast again. (Always want what you can’t have, right?) Mama mode kicks in and I decide his ten month young body needs some boobie juice immuno goodness. So here we find ourselves again. The roller coaster that is ending our breastfeeding relationship has taken us on quite a ride.
I still can’t believe how bittersweet this is, how much courage it takes to stop. Nobody can prepare you for it, mamas. But this is my ode to you. Whatever love and light you might need to navigate that heavy heart or confusion—I am sending it to you. What I can promise is a special kind of growth that is inspired by blazing frontiers of solid food.
You’ve got this.
And in some strange way, I am super proud of myself for respecting my breastfeeding experience enough to leave before it got ugly. I want to remember it with joy—I owe it that much.