From Reluctantly Breastfeeding to Reluctantly Weaning, Part 2

When I left you hanging last week at the end of Part 1, Clint and I had a solid plan for weaning our 18-month-old in place, but I was having cold feet.

Once I realized that it was me, not Roy, who wasn’t ready, I thought about it—really thought about it—and came to this conclusion: Too bad for me. I want my parenting choices to be based on what’s good for my children, not what makes things easier for me. I decided to go ahead and give Roy the opportunity to stop, as planned, and see what happened.

Night one was all Clint. No nursing and no bottle, for the first time in Roy’s entire life. I said good night, leaving Clint armed with a sippy cup of water and a pile of books, then disappeared downstairs, boobs and all, to wait for the screams.

You guys. The screams didn’t come.

About 15 minutes later, Clint ambled downstairs with the baby monitor, broadcasting nothing but the chirping crickets of the sound machine set to “Summer Night.” “That went well,” he said.

I was happy? Yes. Sure. I was happy.

Then came night two. My turn. Usually, it’s nurse then night-night. Tonight, I was not going to offer, yet not going to refuse, before reading a few books to reinforce the new tradition Clint established the night before. Suffice it to say we had an uncharacteristically short breastfeeding session followed by a long book-reading session. Which is good. Right?

Night three with Clint, and therefore no nursing whatsoever, again went bump-free.

On night four with me, Roy began to nurse—out of habit, I suppose—but then stopped, almost immediately. “Moon,” he said. The boy wanted to read “Goodnight Moon.”

“Moon, or milk?” I asked, wanting to make sure he understood the decision he was making.

“Moon,” he repeated.

We haven’t nursed since. Clint and I had prepared for the worst. Had set aside a month for weaning, plus another month for backup in case one wasn’t enough. Instead, the kid was done by the end of week one. Clearly, he was ready.

Truth be told—and again, much to my surprise—I still wasn’t. Not that I was a basket case or anything, it was just hard to see the daily, snugly, mama-baby tradition we’d established from the very moment he was born fall by the wayside; hard to see my first and only not need me as much as he once did. I never realized that parenting could be summed up as the long, slow, heartbreaking process of your child needing you less and less. That’s how it feels some days, anyway. I do know and appreciate, deep down, that my little boy slowly and confidently gaining independence is a very good thing, and for that, I’m proud. Of both of us.


(In case you missed it, here’s the first part of our journey: From Reluctantly Breastfeeding to Reluctantly Weaning, Part 1)

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  1. by jen wilson

    On September 30, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    i remember watching sam take his first steps, and thinking: and now he begins walking away from me in so many ways … but remember that even as your kids grow, you grow as a parent, too. everybody’s learning, and you’ll be close in lots of new ways for every chapter that ends. jw

  2. by Joanne Spencer

    On September 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Hugs to you dear mama! A very smart woman told me once to honor the day that you stop nursing. It’s a milestone in parenting and if we let it slip by unnoticed, it diminishes the very important role that it played. You my dear, have grown a child – all the way – from your womb to a two year old! Luckily, you have #2 on the way, and you get to discover how to nourish that child all over again. Ritual is important. Mark the day somehow, either with Clint or other trusted mamas. It’s not a small thing. Accomplishment.

  3. by Eve

    On September 30, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I sobbed while reading every word, and then JW had some words of wisdom. Both made my day.

  4. by Libby

    On September 30, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    So bittersweet! Nice work, Berit! I was just thinking about how in the beginning I thought that at most I would breastfeed until Arlo was a year old and then end it…you know…because that’s when you do it. Yeah. Right. I can’t believe how much I love it. That little wiggly, giggling body when I start to get ready to feed him is going to be very hard to give up. And as I was reminded at the doctor today…that midnight feeding is not necessary, no matter how I rationalize it, it can stop. I have so far given up sleep for BJ and myself just to indulge it. At least I now feel that I will continue past that year mark. One of my favorite things about motherhood is how everything I thought I would do gets to be thrown out the window as each new day approaches. And, I am so happy I have you to venture into the unknown first!

  5. by Berit Thorkelson

    On October 2, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Thanks, all of you sweet mamas… *quiet sob*

  6. by Kella

    On November 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I teared up reading this because in what I’m sure will be three short months I too will be starting the weaning process with my then 18 month old. I dread it but realize it’s necessary to prepare for the next baby.

  7. by Sarah

    On February 2, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    I’m reading your blog for the first time tonight, and commenting all over the place. I read once that being a mother is a “long series of letting go,” from letting them go from your body to letting them go from your home… heartbreaking, but at the same time. There’s something satisfying about knowing that you prepared your child for the next step, right? Or at least that’s what I tell myself when my son does something independently, without needing my help. “I prepared him to accomplish that,” I say to myself.

  8. by Berit Thorkelson

    On February 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Welcome, Sarah. Happy to have you here. You’re totally right—happiness in knowing you helped them build that strength, yet sadness at the distance it builds. Such a cruel reward. but a reward nonetheless.