Weaning: The End of One Mom's Breastfeeding Era - Baby Chick
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Weaning: The End of One Mom’s Breastfeeding Era

After 10 years of being pregnant and breastfeeding back to back, one mom reflects on the end of an era while weaning her last son.

Published December 20, 2018 Opinion

by Quinn Kelly

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

It was never really a conscious choice—to become an extended breastfeeder. I buy Little Debbie and don’t shop in the organic section. So, for me to become the mom who did something like nurse for the past 12 months was an unlikely outcome. Yet there I was this summer in emotional shambles. Staring my fourth son in the eyes as I thought I was weaning and nursing him for the last time. He was approaching his second birthday and I knew it was time—by society’s standards, for sure. And definitely in my mind, too. But my stomach was aching as I wrestled with the thought. “Am I strong enough for weaning and making this the last time?” My heart wasn’t as settled as my mind.

It just felt so definite. So gloomy. So final. To close a BIG chapter of my life just because he was getting old. Who considers a two-year-old “old” anyway? Not me. And I had only weaned my other sons when I knew I was pregnant. And I most definitely was not pregnant this time. So, I chose to wean because I just wanted to feel foreign. And actually kind of selfish. In some twisted way.

But that afternoon, I rocked him to sleep without letting him nurse. He cried the whole time, asking if he could. I cried the entire time, telling him no. Then, once he fell asleep, I sent a super dramatic text (that I felt from the core of my being) to my friends that read . . .

“10 years…2 months…5 days….THE END OF AN ERA . . . For this amount of time, I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding back to back. And it ends today.” Insert Cry face. Cry face. Cry face.

To which all my friends immediately texted back. As did my hubby. They were worried, as they should’ve been. I could not stop crying. I just didn’t feel ready.

So that next morning, I nursed him again.

Like a child finding their lost blanket, my heart felt happy again. It didn’t make sense. But my heart wasn’t ready. So I decided to wait a bit longer. He’s my last baby, I reminded myself. So why not keep going? 

So, he continued nursing until after he turned two. Almost a month after. And I learned from my first attempt to wean that I would need to wean without emotionally focusing on it too much. So I took a few pictures of him nursing before I thought I was weaning so I wouldn’t be too sad when the day finally came. And wow, I’m glad I did.

Weaning: The End of One Mom's Breastfeeding Era

Because I weaned him on a whim.

And this time, with no mental focus on how much of an END it was. I returned from an overnight trip to Schlitterbahn with my two oldest sons. And decided to let that be it. There was no “this is the last time” nursing session. It was more of a – this time, we just aren’t going to do it again. We’re weaning. And for some reason, it worked.

I strangely missed him the weeks after because just holding him didn’t feel close enough. But slowly, we could snuggle again without him wanting to nurse, and my heart accepted that ending breastfeeding wasn’t losing him. Instead, it was just saying, my baby isn’t a baby anymore. And that’s okay.

Or mostly okay, I should say.

I wanted to write about it then. But I couldn’t. It was too BIG of a thing for me. I wanted to talk about it to my friends, but I didn’t think it seemed appropriate because who else other than a mom who has breastfed all her sons insanely long could understand my pain? So I kept it to myself.

But for me, breastfeeding was a sweet connection with my sons. A time to sit, connect, and be close. Even if just for a brief moment. Can I say it was a sacrifice? At times, yes. But to me, I did it because it felt easy and natural.

It felt natural to have them curled up close to me and connected. I might not have done it so long if it had been super hard. My first son went until 24 months, my second until 21 months, my third until 21 months, and my fourth until 25 months. And I am proud.

I deserve no glory for breastfeeding for so long. Nor judgment. I just accept that it was the best and sweetest thing for my babies and their mama.

No, I won’t bring it up on their wedding day. But in my heart, I will always hold dear that God gave me that time with them for a short time in their lives. Nowadays, my oldest wants little to do with us and much to do with his friends, and I can’t help but smile and think that when he was little, he would nurse and nurse and nurse and then nurse some more. Listen, sweet mamas. Babies don’t keep.

So keep doing what feels right to you. And snuggle those babies.

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Quinn Kelly Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
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Quinn is a mother of four, licensed marriage and family therapist, host of the “Renew You” Podcast, and author of “Raising Boys: A Christian Parenting Book.” Throughout the last decade,… Read more

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