The End of our Breastfeeding Journey: A Personal Reflection

Well, we did it. I breastfed my daughter for 20 months. My initial breastfeeding goal was to make it to 1 year. Then, at 12 months, we were still going steady... so I moved the goalpost to 18 months. After she turned one year, her feedings decreased from 3 per day, to two, and finally, one before bedtime.

We had been doing the sole bedtime feed for several months. I had read that it was the hardest to break. But over the past few weeks, I noticed a change in our nightly session. My daughter was very happily distracted by books, stuffies, Papa, the dogs, looking out the window. Off she’d pop! It got the point that I figured she was *maybe* getting in 2 minutes of actual suckling, though this was broken up several times.

So it seemed she was ready. But was I? I hated giving up that time with her, but I soon realized that what I was holding onto was actually a vision of breastfeeding from about a year ago...back when she would rest sweetly in my arms and nurse uninterrupted. But she is now a curious, wiggly toddler.

I also was ready to resume my life without breastfeeding. To not have to time a glass of wine to the next nursing session, or worry about my outfit being breastfeeding-friendly. Most importantly, my hormones around menstruation had changed and I was getting breakouts rather regularly on my chin and nose. They could be uncomfortable and painful, and I never had them prior to breastfeeding.

My periods had also been a little wacky, at times heavy and long, and would leave me feeling absolutely drained.. I was ready to eliminate the variable of breastfeeding and see if my periods would improve.

Also, we had noticed several moments where our little baby looked and acted so much more like a little kid. A real toddler! She was running through the house, was independent and thoughtful.

It was time.

Knowing myself, I figured if I told myself “tonight will be the last time,” I would blubber through the whole thing. So I decided one random afternoon that I would try not breastfeeding that night. Meaning, last night’s nursing session was the last one and I hadn’t realized it at the time.

I thawed out some milk from my freezer stash and put it in her sippy cup. We got ready for bed, and I presented the cup and sat down on the floor with books.

And she was fine! Even though we mentioned going “night night” several times, she never even asked to breastfeed. When it was time for bed, she selected her stuffies for the night and then walked down the hall with me. I choked out some lullabies and kissed her good night.

At the end of her hallway, my husband met me with a glass of bubbly and a big hug. I cried, and we talked about how big our daughter was getting He told me he was proud of me, and thanked me, and reaffirmed what a gift I had given her. But, as we had talked about several times before, it was obviously the right time.

It was really the dream scenario. We naturally weaned when everyone was ready for it (or in my case, as ready as I’ll ever be). Sweet, positive, and painless. Bittersweet. I know this isn’t everybody’s breastfeeding story, but it was mine and I’m glad I did it, I’m proud of how I did it, and how long we kept going!

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