Breastfeeding came easily to me, with both my babies. I loved nurturing their little bodies through my own. I loved the closeness, the warmth, the belonging-ness, the drunken eyes they make soon after latching on, the eagerness, the playfulness, the absolute joy. Much like pregnancy and birth, breastfeeding journey is beautiful, challenging, tiring and precious. It requires so much from the mama; gratitude, acceptance, patience and, most importantly, the ability to surrender. To surrender to the needs of your baby.
I started giving AZ fresh cow’s milk when he turned 1, he loved it and it suited it him just fine. He slept better. I slept better. We still continued to nurse, about one or two times a day, sometimes for comfort, other times just for the sake of it. But the major part of his milk intake was coming from the farm, not me. Occasionally the whole day would pass without a feeding session. We didn’t mind, neither of us, and just hi-fived the next day and got on with it. Those were the good months till they lasted. It was all going really well. Until it stopped going so well.
About three months ago (or was it four? i can’t keep track), AZ started comfort feeding off me numerous times a day. He would be cranky and would demand a feed, I would always oblige and it soothed him instantly. He would be having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and I wouldn’t wait a moment before offering to nurse and voila! off to the dreamland he went. It was my wrong-doing, I realize now since he was already adjusted quite well to a couple of nursing sessions per day. But I encouraged him to feed more and used my best card in face of tantrums and restlessness for my own peace of mind. I can’t be blamed much since toddler tantrums were flying high at that time and nursing proved to be the magic potion — the elixir of calmness and quiet.
But then there he was, at almost 20 months, breastfeeding like a newborn, and I was completely worn out and I needed my body back. I was getting absolutely fed up of the toddler doing acrobats while feeding. I needed to do something. It needed to stop.
As much as I wanted to change the situation, I kept delaying it cause I was dreading how he would react and I didn’t want to face all those crying sessions and didn’t want to give up my comfort-wildcard just yet. And also for my own sentimental reasons. I get overly emotional when a baby-stage ends or a baby-milestone is achieved.
Last week, I had a particularly exhausting day, and when bedtime approached I was all done and in no mood for long nursing sessions even after a couple of bottles were consumed (He would down a full bottle, then ask to be fed, then another bottle, then again nurse, and then he would finally doze off). So I just made a snap decision: breastfeeding stops right now! No more nursing. For crying out loud, you are going to be 2 years old in less than three months, AZ! Its time you stop behaving like an infant.
I expected lots of screaming and wailing. I expected him to cry and cry until one of us had to budge and give in. I always expected ‘that one’ to be me. To my absolute surprise, he just sobbed for a few seconds when I said, “NO! Gone! Finished!” , then understood me completely. He held me close and snuggled and just lay in my arms quietly, comforting himself to sleep. He didn’t ask for it again, since.
And there I sat, in some kind of shock and disbelief at what just happened. Actual, big, fat tears welled up in my eyes and rolled down my cheeks as I realized the journey has ended.
We didn’t have a beautiful, gentle last feed where I stroked his hair and froze that moment in my mind forever. Our last feed was probably a desperate one in car that evening when he just wanted out and I ran out of ways to calm him, not knowing that this was the last time I was calming him down like that. I always imagined that it would take a few days to wean off completely, but when he showed his readiness and acceptance in that very moment, I couldn’t undo it and go back just for my own sentimental reasons. It seemed that he was ready, I on the other hand, was not.
But then I remembered: acceptance, gratitude, patience, surrender. And I surrendered.
My baby became a little boy.