Tonight I Nursed You For The Last Time

As I watch you toss and turn trying to fall back asleep on the monitor, I wonder if you too understand what tonight was. Tonight I put you in your sleepsack, I read you stories, I kissed you goodnight. Same as every night.

But tonight I nursed you for the last time.

One mom's touching letter to her daughter at the end of their breastfeeding journey & the emotions that go along with weaning from breastfeeding & nursing. | new mom, nursing mom, weaning, breastfeeding | The Mom FriendWe have been slowly approaching this moment. Cutting down feedings one at a time, going from an on demand all-you-can-eat buffet to a scheduled sit down morning, nap and night meal only. You handled dropping the naptime feeds with ease (and a bit of Daddy distraction) last weekend.

This week you slept through your normal 5:15 am wake up one and didn’t ask for it by frantically pointing towards the glider like you usually do. So away went the morning one (although I still have to show up with a sippy cup and toast to convince you that you don’t need it).

Thursday night we had a really memorable bedtime nursing session. Without my phone to distract me, I focused on you, wanting to memorize every movement of your mouth, every placement of your hand, knowing that tonight was coming soon. You grabbed my hand like you love to do, and played your game of lifting your hand in mine up for a kiss. You broke off in giggles and repeated the trick, time and time again.

The very last time nursing

One mom's touching letter to her daughter at the end of their breastfeeding journey & the emotions that go along with weaning from breastfeeding & nursing. | The Mom Friend

I made the decision that tonight would be the last time, because it feels like the right time. You’ve been growing more and more independent, in more ways than one, and have been showing a preference for sippy cups and snuggles rather than breastfeeding.

Tonight came, and as the evening wore on I grew more and more anxious. I started to feel overwhelmed with the thought of it being our last time doing this together- something only you and I have done for the past 16 months.

16 months. 509 days in all.

  • 509 days that we shared a special connection, completely unique from anything anyone else has shared with you.
  • 509 days filled with struggling to learn, the elation of success, tenderness, and pain. Days that saw multiple plugged ducts and 2 rounds of excruciating mastitis. Struggling through the resulting low milk-supply that left me triple pumping at work just to make sure you had enough to eat the next day. All-night nursing sessions and public nursing, growing in my confidence from hiding under a cover to having no qualms about providing you with your nutrition in airplanes, restaurants, or walking through Walmart.
  • 509 days of holding you, gazing down at your rounded cheeks and button nose, and being enchanted by the way you move your mouth just so, or the way you lift your eyebrows when you get a perfectly satisfying drink.

So when tonight came I found myself unexpectedly nervous, unsure of how to proceed with this feeling of uncertainty.

Uncertainty over how to explain it to you, knowing you may not understand my words but still understand so much more than it seems you should be capable of. Uncertain about how tomorrow will go, and the day after, and how our relationship will change.

I decided tonight you could eat as long as you wanted. No matter how hard I have been trying to cut our times short in preparation or to distract you with another book, tonight was special. Tonight you could feast.

Sleepsack on, you turned to me and asked for it in your oh-so-polite manner of jabbing my chest and lifting my shirt. I looked you in the eyes and told you that this was the last time- that after tonight there would be no more. You nodded in agreement, acting like you understood me perfectly, or perhaps thinking I was asking if you wanted some. My heart decided to believe the first option.

As you settled in, squishing your long lanky legs to fit inside the confines of the glider arms, my mind desperately sought to recall the memories of the past 16 months.

One mom's touching letter to her daughter at the end of their breastfeeding journey & the emotions that go along with weaning from breastfeeding & nursing. | The Mom Friend

My chest felt the weight of the very first time you were placed upon it, and the excitement I felt when you latched on and started eating the very first time we tried. My arms felt the weight of carrying you while you ate through the rooms of our house, juggling you as the months went by while trying to do too many other things at the same time.

A playful bite tonight brought me back to those first few weeks after you finally got teeth, both the dread of the first bite and the muscle & impulse control it took not to have a reaction when that and so many bites occurred after.

I thought about how it was so cute when you first starting connecting where the milk was coming from and began lifting up my shirt to access it. And how that grew from sweet gesture to a ravenous beast who would ferociously claw at my shirt in public any time you wanted a snack.

 

But mostly I realized that there weren’t a lot of dramatic and sensational memories involving breastfeeding. Because it was something so ingrained, so natural, and so a part of my entire being that it was more a part of who I was, rather than something I was experiencing.

So as we sat there together as the time passed tonight, I came to a place of calm. A place that made me grateful for this journey, grateful that I was able to do what I had always wanted to, and what lots of women are unable to.

Tonight, I secretly hoped you would fall asleep nursing, something you so often did when it was the only way to get you to sleep. The way you did when the weeks turned into months and the sessions became mundane at times and I would lose track of time checking Facebook or browsing Pinterest, only to look down and realize you were asleep.

One mom's touching letter to her daughter at the end of their breastfeeding journey & the emotions that go along with weaning from breastfeeding & nursing. | The Mom Friend

Recently you haven’t had the chance, as I had to wean you off slowly from that by stopping to read a book or get you to fall asleep some other way. But tonight was the night for that to happen again.

I felt I needed one more night of seeing you drift peacefully to sleep, slowly losing the latch until you are nestled in my arms dreaming.

I needed it because it meant you needed me. 

The longer we sat the more restless you became. It was obvious that you couldn’t relax enough to sleep as every time sleep approached you would be reminded you could still suckle instead, and so the pattern continued.

I realized you needed me to be the one to stop it. The one to bring our journey to an end.

And so I did.

The instant I pulled you off you snuggled in close and fell asleep. The tears I had felt welling at the start now rushed down again.

This was it.

This was the last time, and it was over.

Tonight I nursed you for the last time.

Tomorrow you will wake up, and you will point to the glider and smack your lips asking for more. I’ll distract you as I have all week by bribing you with toast and will count down the hours until bedtime.

I don’t know how you will react tomorrow night. While my mind hopes you really did understand and won’t mind being turned down at bedtime, my heart knows that won’t be the case. I’m worried I won’t be able to hold back the tears (much like I can’t while writing this) when you flail your little body uncontrollably and hit me on the face, your most recent way to express frustration without being able to summon up the words to do so instead. I don’t want you to see me cry, I don’t want you to feel like it is your fault.

Because it is not. Instead, you are the reason we have had this beautiful, trying, exhausting and special journey together. 16 months of a physical connection that allowed me to be your complete source of nourishment for the first 5 months of your life, and your continued nutrition, a source of comfort, and favorite means of escape for the rest.

One mom's touching letter to her daughter at the end of their breastfeeding journey & the emotions that go along with weaning from breastfeeding & nursing. | The Mom Friend

So yes, tonight was our last time nursing. But there is no last time for my love for you. Love that will wake up tomorrow and ensure that you know you are my everything- and together we will figure out how to go on from here.

Love, Mama

 

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Comments

  1. This hit me!! I’ve nursed my daughter and now my son.. my last baby. We are nearing the end. Even though I am sooo over it (lol) I am so sad. This made me tear up!!! ♡♡♡♡

    • I totally understand being over it but also being sad! Crazy how strong both feelings can be!

  2. So sweet. I nursed my five babies anywhere from 11 months to 2 years. You know when it’s time, but it’s bittersweet to stop. You sound like a very nurturing mom.

  3. I cried as a read your post. I know that the last day of nursing my daughter will be here soon. She is our last child and I have nursed her longer than her 3 brothers and 1 sister. She just turned 15 months and she doesn’t want to give it up, but I know it’s almost time. I hope it will be easy for both of us.

    • How amazing that you were able to for all of your children! It must be especially hard knowing it is the last time. I hope it goes easy for you as well!

  4. Well this made me cry! This was so beautifully written and so aligns with my current feelings. My 14 month old twins are currently only nursing at bed time and I just need to decide when to stop. I keep setting a day and then changing my mind. But soon it will be all over and it feels so bittersweet.

    • I can’t imagine having twins and keeping up with breastfeeding, so impressed with you! I too set a date and then pushed it back- no shame in that! Whenever the time is right for all of you is the best time. 🙂

  5. I also cried reading this post. My son is almost 10 months and I am thinking about weaning at 12 months when I return to work. I am so anxious about and can understand now the emotions that come with the thought of. This was so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am curious, how did the next night go? Did you offer a sippie cup with cows milk instead?

    • Thank you for your sweet comment! I started bringing a sippy cup in with us at night about a week or so prior to stopping completely, and offering it to her as we read stories or after we finished nursing. She would take little sips for fun and that helped her get used to it at bedtime too. I also started giving her the cup of milk while we were winding down for the evening before bed, in hopes that she was a little more full than usual to make it easy. I did that the night after weaning, and told her while getting her dressed for bed that there was no more from me, but she could have a cup of milk. She actually didn’t even ask that night (amazingly, I think because she was so tired) and only asked a few times over the next couple of days at bedtime. I’ll have to write a follow-up post with some of that info in case it helps others!

  6. Totally cried as I read your post. I get it. I nursed my daughter until 22 months… she weaned herself just in time for my other daughter who is now 10 weeks. I loved our time together and miss it but now I appreciate even more the time with my 2nd! Thanks for sharing your beautiful story!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story as well! That is so wonderful you kept it up for so long, and are now on #2. I appreciate you taking the time to comment after reading!

  7. I have a new almost 3 week old son, and he is cluster feeding at the moment. Your post made me cry so hard and you know, suddenly the hourly demands of feedings don’t seem so hard anymore.
    When my little guy wants to nurse next time (probably in half an hour or so), I will look at him and see *him*. No phone, no books, no TV, no distraction. Just him and me. Because it’s so very special.
    Thank you.

    • Thank you for taking time out of the newborn craziness to comment! 3 weeks is a tough time with clusterfeeding- I definitely remember that, it is physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding. As the next weeks and months ahead are likely to be difficult and exhausting at times, I hope you find a great network of support to help you stay encouraged. If you need ideas of some online communities of moms, check out the pregnancy & resources tab- there are some great facebook groups listed that really help new moms feel no so alone in the struggle!

  8. Beautifully written. I did want to add for other mamas reading this that the American Association of pediatrics recommends nursing until at least 24 months. So I want to encourage other Mama’s to keep going if possible ❤

    • Thank you for your comment Paula! Yes, I think that is a great recommendation and I do encourage people to go as long as they are able to or want to.

  9. It’s been nearly 6 years since I weaned my man and this still made me cry like a baby. Stay strong, Mama!

  10. This was worded so beautifully! I’m near my end with my first baby and breastfeeding has been such a special thing in my heart that knowing the end is near is so bittersweet! Love your post and your blog !

  11. I cried the entire time I read this, while my own LO lay cradled in my arms. With my first child nursing ended about 5 months when my supply dropped. I had no support and it had become unpleasant for both of us as he was always so hungry. This baby 7 years later it’s different, it has been a journey and it is something ingrained, I never thought about how weaning would effect me….

    • Thank you so much for commenting! I have heard from many moms who have had a similar experience of having to stop before they are ready or wanting to, for supply or other reasons, and a lack of support, and honestly that is one of the reasons I hope people connect here on the blog. Motherhood is such a hard and lonely experience at times, and yet such a global one with moms going through many of the same challenges. I am glad you had what sounds like a different journey this time around- I hope it goes well for you!

  12. Beautifully written – and very true. The last time I nursed my daughter was a tough one, made easier because she was my first child and I thought we would have more. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be, but I am so thankful that we had those times together and miss them loads x

  13. Well this was just perfectly written. I’m balling like a baby. I stopped nursing my sweet first baby girl 2 weeks ago. What makes me sad is that I didn’t know it was the last time. My husband helped me that fateful morning because we had to stop nursing as I started a desparately needed new medication that can be harmful to her. I endured months of Arthritis pain just so that I can nurse her as long as she needed. I am so grateful for your post because it’s making me contemplate these emotions that I was avoiding. I still look at her and reminisce about our special bond with nursing. But I have to believe that she isn’t feeling the loss and we will build a new nurturing bond in another way. Anyway thank you

  14. I needed this and my sweet husband sent it to me. I love nursing,but I’m kinda over it. Our daughter is 17 months. The original plan was to nurse for a year, then it become 15 months to get past flu season, then 18 months. Part of me thinks 2 years,but I’m so very done and 18 months sticks out like a sore thumb to me. I have a month left. I’ll miss it and cry when I think about being done,but it is time. There is a gut feeling about it. Time to let a beautiful phase end.

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