I haven't talked about it here, but I'm an extended, er, excuse me...a child-led-weaning-breastfeeding-mama. I breastfed my twins for 2 years 8 months. I was "touched out" and gave them a gentle nudge to wean a bit earlier than they would have, had I let them choose their time. I was blessed with the surprise pregnancy of a third child. Jewel was a breastfeeding champ! Born at 40 weeks 5 days, she didn't have any of the issues that I had to deal with nursing premature (30 weeks 5 days) twins. Our nursing relationship was a smooth one. My goal was to nurse her until at least her 2nd birthday, and then for however long that we both felt necessary. (My goal with the twins was 1 year, and then 14 months when they were born prematurely.) Her second birthday came and went. She started preschool. Her 3rd birthday came and went, and still she nursed before bed.
At about 3.5 years old, things started to change for me. Part of me was ready to be done. After a few minutes of nursing on each side, I had to end the session. I felt like I was drying up. Emotionally, I wanted to be there for her, but physically it was becoming more difficult to nurse her. I went to a LaLecheLeague meeting during this time. I was surrounded mostly by nursing mothers of little babies. I, personally, knew a few mothers there. One of which, knew that I had nursed my twins and nudged them to wean. She knew that I had HUGE regrets over giving them said nudge. She very gently reminded me not to do something that I would have painful regrets over. When leaving the meeting, I started chatting to the LLL leader outside. An older lady, she was so kind and soft spoken. She shared with me that she had a very need child years ago that she nursed until age 5. And it wasn't until after weaning that she learned the extent of the food intolerances this child had. I left the meeting with a new perspective. I didn't want to have any regrets about my nursing relationship with Jewel.
Even though I didn't want any regrets, the physical uneasiness of nursing her didn't go away. In the next few months we began talking about "milkies going away". At first, no specific time frame was given. Slowly, "when I turn 4" came about. And so the story went. Would it happen before she turned 4...I didn't know...and I'm not sure it really mattered.
On July 24, Jewel decided that she wanted to sleep with her older sister. (Did I mention we're co-sleepers too?) We had been trying to get her into her room for a while too. There were several other times that she would get into bed with Layla, but once that lights were out...it was over. She wanted "her" bed, ie mom and dad's bed. This night was different. Dad read her books. Mommy stayed away in another room thinking, "this will never work, will it?" The lights went out...and she stayed in be with Layla! They stayed up, way too late, talking. BUT she fell asleep with Layla. For the first time, without Mommy. And she didn't nurse!
It's now been 9 nights that Jewel has been out of Mommy and Daddy's bed...and 9 nights that she hasn't nursed! Six weeks shy of her 4th birthday, my baby is weaned! I'm teary-eyed just typing that. I know she was ready. I know I let her do it on her time. But knowing July 23, 2011 was the last time that I will ever breastfeed (because she is our last) is a bit heartbreaking. I've been so emotional. I want to blame it on my cycle, but my husband tells me I was this emotional when Layla and Sully weaned also. I can't believe that chapter of my life is closed.