2 years of a beautiful bond that only I could share with my daughter. 2 years of nourishing her with my body. 2 years of comforting her in a way no one else could.
Looking back, I wouldn't change a single thing about our nursing journey. I'm tempted to regret habituating falling asleep while nursing, and cosleeping, and nursing on demand, because it made it that much harder to wean, but I honestly wouldn't do it any differently if I could.
I'm proud of us. Nursing started out so rough. With flat nipples, it was hard for her to latch, so I had to use a nipple shield for a few months until the tissue got soft enough for her to latch properly. That and my overactive flow made it very confusing, and very stressful. But we pushed through and it became one of my favorite things about motherhood.
But, alas, all good things must come to an end. And like all good things that must end, it's hard to let go.
For Ever's whole life we've coslept. She would wake up in the night and I would nurse her back to sleep. She hadn't slept through the night in her whole 2 years of life. This was fine with me until I started getting crazy anxiety every time she would wake up and want to nurse because I couldn't fall back asleep, or get comfortable, and I just wanted to rip my boobs off and give them to her so I could roll over and rest.
I wanted to wean gradually and gently. But since we nursed on demand, it wasn't like I could just cut out a scheduled session one at a time. We figured out that if we were to wean gradually she would just be confused and wonder why she could have it sometimes but not others. I also wanted to just night wean, and still nurse during the day. But that didn't seem like it was going to be a possibility either, because she wouldn't take no for an answer if I tried telling her she could have milk in the morning. The only way that it was going to work was by cutting it out cold turkey.
So we used the "band aid method". The band aid method was shared to me by a follower on instagram when I was asking for tips on my story. At first I wanted to try it just to see if it worked, and as soon as it started working I was like "oh crap, do I really want to do this?" The band aid method works by you simply putting band aids over your nipples and when your child asks to nurse you show them your "ouchies". When I showed Ever my "ouchies" she said "oh, I sorry mommy." The first day she asked to nurse off and on and each time I would show her the bandaids and she would let it go without even a whine. But then came bed time. I had to wake up at 5:30 to teach in the morning, and she was not going to sleep any other way so I gave in a nursed her to sleep and told myself we'd try again the next day. And we did. The next day I put the bandaids back on and she cried the first time I refused, but after that she understood.
It's been a week since she last nursed, and the days kind of blur togethe. For the first few days she would ask for milkies constantly, or ask to see my ouchies. Then after a few days she stopped asking altogether, and would ask for "milkies in a cup".
What helped a lot was having Jesse put her to sleep, and sleep with her all night while I slept on either her bed or the couch. This way she didn't wake up wanting to nurse out of habit. The first night we did this she slept for 9 hours straight for the first time in her life! The second night I layed next to her and she fell asleep by herself for the first time in her life. I've been able to rejoin them in bed the past couple nights, and when she wakes up she can easily be comforted back to sleep.
Now, a week later, we're all sick with fevers and chills and I thought I would try to nurse her because she was feeling so awful. I didn't care if we had to restart the whole weaning process, I just wanted my baby to feel better. I offered it to her and she said no because of my ouchies. The second time I offered she put her mouth on it then said "it's not working" haha. So I think it's safe to say that we have officially weaned.
I've mourned the closing of this chapter in our relationship for quite some time. Back when I thought the time was getting close I couldn't even think about it without crying. And then when the time had come my heart was breaking, and still is. One night as I laid in Ever's tiny toddler bed by myself, I thought back to all those special moments we shared while nursing and completely broke down. It's hard to let it go. It's hard for so many reasons I don't really understand. It seems so silly, but if you've experienced the bond and the joy and the love that comes through breastfeeding, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's been the most challenging yet rewarding experience. One that I'm so grateful for and one that I'll always cherish.
You can read more about our nursing journey in these posts: