The Last Time I Breastfed: Guest Post

I’ve decided to take a little break from blogging (read more about the reasons why), but wanted to continue to provide interesting and insightful content on my blog in the meantime. I asked for help and my tribe answered my call, so for a while I will have guest posts from various bloggers interspersed with posts by me when I am moved to write. Thank you for your understanding. — Amy (CDG)

Today’s guest post comes from Amber who blogs at Strocel.com.

The Last Time I Breastfed

Every morning, now, I look at the calendar and take note of the date. Because every day could be the last day I ever breastfeed my son Jacob. And maybe the last day that I ever breastfeed for the rest of my life. My second-born is weaning, and while I have pangs, there aren’t any more babies on the horizon for me right now.

I breastfed Jacob’s big sister, Hannah, until she was almost three years old. A whole lot of factors led to her weaning, including my desire to conceive again (I wasn’t having much luck), my increasing physical discomfort as my milk supply dwindled, and my belief that Hannah was ready to move on. I took a fairly active role in the process, which happened over a number of months.

I still remember the last time that I nursed Hannah. It was December 22, 2007. Some part of me likes that I know that date, and remember the occasion. Breastfeeding played a big part in my relationship with my daughter in her early years, and it feels fitting that I marked its conclusion, as well as its beginning. I want to do the same thing with my son. I don’t want breastfeeding to pass away without notice, even though that’s exactly what seems to be happening.

Having a snack at the midwives picnic

Breastfeeding my daughter Hannah at a picnic

Jacob is 31 months old, right now – three full months younger than Hannah was the last time that she breastfed. I didn’t expect I would be here so soon with my son, to be honest. Most of my friends and acquaintances nursed their second babies as long or longer than their first. I’m not trying to get pregnant right now, and I have less angst in general over the state of my breastfeeding relationship with Jacob. I thought I would nurse him until his third birthday, at least.

But Jacob, as it turns out, is a different person altogether than Hannah. He’s gradually decreased his nursing all on his own. When he asks to nurse and it’s not a good time, he’s much faster to accept an alternative like a drink of water or a cuddle. There are no tears when I decline his request, no existential anguish bubbling to the surface. He’s a pretty easygoing kid, and he’s moving on to the next phase of his life without a lot of fuss.

I’ve breastfed for the past 6 years, with a break of a little under eight months during my second pregnancy. As I contemplate the potential conclusion of my nursing career, I feel a little wistful. Can it really be possible that I’m not pregnant or breastfeeding? That I am no longer the mother of a nursling? Is this the last gasp of babyhood leaving my family? I’m not sure I’m ready to close this chapter in my life.

Jacob nursing

Nursing Jacob as a baby

And yet, when I consider Jacob’s imminent weaning, I don’t feel sad. I feel remarkably content. For him and for me, this feels like a fitting end to our breastfeeding relationship. We’re both moving towards it in our own way, and at our own pace. He’s ready, and I’m ready. I’m ready to have my body entirely to myself for the first time since I conceived my daughter almost seven years ago. I’m confident that I have given my son the best start I could, and that he has gotten what he needed out of breastfeeding. I don’t feel a need to encourage him back to the breast or prolong our time as a nursing pair.

And so, again today, I looked at the calendar. He nursed once, and I tried to remember the details. Where were we? What was it like? Will this be the last time? I memorize as much as I can, in case Jacob doesn’t breastfeed tomorrow, or the next day, or ever again. If this is the last time, I don’t want to forget it.

I’d love to hear about your own weaning experience. What was it like for you? Do you remember the last time you nursed, or not? Were you happy with how things ended? Please share!

Amber is a crunchy granola mama who lives in suburban Vancouver with her husband and two children. She blogs at Strocel.com, and she runs an online course for moms about living with intention and passion at Crafting my Life.

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14 thoughts on “The Last Time I Breastfed: Guest Post

  1. My youngest is rather freshly weaned, and she still considers nursing once in a while… as in once a week or less she considers it, but since she tries so little it’s no longer comfortable for me.

    She lasted longer than my other two and was far more reluctant to wean. They self weaned at about 18 months each. My youngest was still going strong at 2 years. I gave her more of a nudge than the others, as I was ready to be done by that point. Still, we came to a good agreement on it in the end and had a fairly peaceful weaning.

  2. I don’t remember the last time either of my older boys nursed. I do remember the date when I thought that my oldest son was going to be done nursing (around 18 months), and I felt like it was a result of my pregnancy. That date was May 10, 2007. I don’t remember the actual dates though.

    Both of my boys weaned very gradually. It was so slowly and gradually I didn’t even feel it happening. I never felt sad. I wasn’t engorged. I didn’t feel like I was missing a tool to be able to parent them. It just felt right, and I am so glad I had that opportunity.

    You said that you liked knowing the date that Hannah’s weaning happened. I actually like not knowing. I like that it wasn’t a big deal for them or me. It was natural, gradual, and just something that happened when they were ready. :-)

  3. Like you, I kept wondering, will this be the last one. And now, I can’t even remember which feed it was… I really should do something like blog to remember these things! ;)

    I weaned at 16mths for both kids – both for medical reasons. One was antibiotics that gave my son a chronic yeast infection and the second was chronic EXTREME mastitis! SO sad to wean them both, esp my last. I ADORE nursing my babies!

    HUGS to you as you say goodbye to one of the most precious times of our lives!

  4. My oldest nursed for the last time when his baby brother was about a week old. He was three years and not-quite-three months. It had been a very gradual process and at the time it seemed like a perfect ending. In retrospect I wish I had held on a little longer (it was me that made the final push to finish) and done it at a time when I was less emotional from birth and nursing a newborn.

    My second is now 15 months old. He is much less attached to nursing than his brother was, so my “goal” with him is 2 years. I hope it will be longer, as he is very likely my last baby, but we will have to see how he decides to do things.

  5. I struggled to nurse my eldest and had to top up with formula almost from birth, so I was over the moon when my efforts paid off and my second son took to nursing like a champion :-)

    I knew that my nursing career would likely come to an end when I returned to work when he was just over four months old, and alas my milk dried up within weeks.

    I don’t remember the exact date but I remember the feeling of transition – bidding a soft farewell to one great stage and welcoming in the next one. You can read about it at http://blogs.parent24.com/veggietots/betwixt-and-bet-wean

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  8. As I type this I’m nursing baby #4…and sad to know that he is very likely my last baby…I thought about it all thru the pregnancy but until I read this post I never thought about what the last weaning would be like….and now I’m a little sad at even the thought of it!

  9. Weaning was really hard for me because breastfeeding was a challenge. I spent months dealing with a low milk supply, thrush, cracked nipples, latch problems – you name it. So successfully nursing without the use of a supplemental nurser or hourly pumping was so amazing that I never wanted to stop. Unfortunately, at about 20 months, my son had other ideas. He pretty much weaned himself but I feel like I might have done it for forever!

  10. I’ve always been a little wistful that I did not know the “last time” when it happened, with either of my children. They both just sort of stopped on their own, going to just mornings, and then skipping a day here and there, and then one day I just realized it had been almost a week, and it was done.

    My kids are 6 and 8 now…but while I absolutely could NOT put my body through another pregnancy, I really genuinely miss breastfeeding. To the point where I’m almost in tears reading your post and writing this response…

    It’s a beautiful thing.

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