By contract II

I suppose I should mention this: I’m no longer a nursing mother.

If you’re new around here you might not be surprised by that – after all, for most mothers whose youngest is five years old, breastfeeding is something that happened way back in the mists of babyhood; toddlerhood at least. But here’s the thing: my babies were reluctant to stop. And I mean that most understatedly. They reacted to the idea of giving up the boob with screaming and terror and horror and gnashing and wailing of teeth, and frankly it was much easier for me to go along with that than to face their wrath.

I didn’t go into breastfeeding with the intent of carrying on until my babies could write their own thank-you notes. I certainly have no opinions about how long anyone else should keep it up, any more than I have opinions about what you should have for dinner or how often, if ever, you should shave your legs. Eat food you like; shave when you feel like it. Nurse your baby for as long as it suits you and your child.*

I had been telling Mabel that we would stop when she was five ever since she turned four and a half and we didn’t quite stop. We cut down from morning and evening to just morning at that point, and when I went on my Big Trip Away to BlogHer in July (for three days) she was just fine without. But our trip to Ireland was nicely timed to happen just before her birthday, and as I had hoped, the distraction of the different, of sharing a room with her brother and being in a new place was enough to break the habit quite easily. She only thought to nurse three mornings out of fourteen while we were there, and on the morning of her birthday was quite easily put off with a simple “No, you’re five now. You don’t need it any more.”

So we’re done. I’m not sad or sorry. I have no regrets about nursing for as long as I did, and I have no regrets about that part of my life being over. My babies and I had a mutually beneficial relationship for a long time, and though often the “mutually” felt more like “completely one-sided” in their favour, it was never enough for me to call a halt sooner than they were ready for. I’m not a martyr – far from it. I was always simply too lazy to make a stand against their will, because when it came down to it, the convenience outweighed the inconvenience.

So I can finally lay to rest the “Weaning” tag that I’ve used so often over the years here, as I considered, and attempted, and gave up on, and tried again with, and gradually approached the nirvana-like state of no longer breastfeeding. I’ve been wearing proper bras for a couple of years, actually, so I can’t even go out and indulge in some fabulous lingerie; and I doubt my alcohol consumption will see much change.

It’s a big milestone, but it’s been so long coming that I really don’t even notice the difference. Perhaps that’s as it should be. We’re looking ahead, not back.

* I’m talking here mostly about extended nursing. I do think you should start out by trying to breastfeed, if you’re medically able to. I think that’s a no-brainer. But if you don’t continue for very long, for whatever reason, I’ll assume that you did what you could and ended up making the best decision for you and your family. It’s not my business to have an opinion on that.

9 thoughts on “By contract II

  1. Naomi Lavelle

    Lovely to have such a natural finish to it all; my second child was so averse to anything other than boob, I thought I’d be weaning him just before college ;0) but at 15 months he decided to wean himself all of a sudden, a calm and easy conclusion for both of us.
    .
    I ended up stopping feeding my third at 7 weeks for medical reasons and the ending was much more traumatic (for me rather than him to be honest). It is nicest when it happens naturally, isn’t it?

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  2. Gwendy

    That’s lovely. Were you expecting to feel melancholy about it. I know i was. It came as a shock when my then 15 month old went cold turkey on me. I was looking forward to feeding him into infinity and beyond. He had other ideas. I was happy that it ended on his terms and very very surprised not to be a snivelling mess as all the books had hinted – drop in hormone levels etc. I think it’s always better, for everyone involved, to end anything on a happy note.

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    1. Maud

      I didn’t expect to feel sad, but a couple of people asked. I hope I’ve avoided the hormonal backlash by doing it as gradually as I did, though it could be a few weeks (or months?) yet before I know for sure. I did catch myself reading a book to the kids yesterday and thinking that the heroine had a nice name – and that I should have another baby post haste so I could call her that. I’m wise to the hormones though; I know their sneaky methods.

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  3. Mind the Baby

    What a milestone and such a beautiful post. I think you need to keep it on the interweb for ever more so that nursing mothers of the future can benefit from the knowledge of your lovely journey.

    Reply
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