This morning the Doodle nursed for the last time. She’s been a nursling for 2 years, 2 weeks and 3 days. And now she’s a nursling no longer.
Last fall I was given the opportunity to attend a conference I’ve always dreamed about attending. I’m here, now, with 1,769 other non-profit social media and techie geeks, and my milk is drying up. I’m still balancing the demands of motherhood and a career. Maybe balancing isn’t the right adjective. Juggling seems better suited.
When I returned to work a year ago after my mat leave, I couldn’t imagine that this child would ever stop nursing.
It’s not that she was a nursing fiend when I was around, but that daytime separation led to intense and prolonged nursing sessions from the moment we walked in the door after daycare until the time she went to bed at night. The Doodle had always had an overwhelming separation anxiety, and having nunnas soothed her and allowed her to re-connect after 8 hours apart.
I was also never sure if this child would night wean. It took us three tries over six months, and it finally stuck in January. Once she was fully night weaned, and down to one nursing session a day, I knew there’d be a time when she wouldn’t want to nurse.
My leaving her for five days just created an opportunity for her to wean completely.
We began talking to her about my going away on an airplane and that would mean no more nunnas. She was pretty clingy over the last week, and at the time I attributed it to her last molar cutting through, in hindsight it’s because she was preparing herself mentally for this transition as well.
After making it clear that she was not also going on an airplane and that she’d be at daycare, the Doodle seemed to accept that there would be a time where there wouldn’t be any more nunnas.
Maybe accept isn’t the right word. She didn’t protest or throw a large temper tantrum when we told her that she’d no longer breastfeed. She didn’t shed any tears. Her failure to react in any way led us to believe that she didn’t fully comprehend what we were telling her.
The only tears shed during our last nursing session were mine. Big, fat, wet and hot.
They weren’t necessarily tears of sadness. They were tears that my baby is growing up and giving up what has been a big part of her life thus far. They were tears of celebration that we stuck out nursing, that we encountered the challenges of mastitis, a tongue-tie, refusal to nurse, in the first few weeks of life and somehow we preserved. We conquered this challenge together which resulted in a wildly successful two-year-long nursing relationship.
While I’m sure that nursing meant something different to each of us, it helped us attach and create a unique, special bond that only her and I shared. I’m so proud to be your mommy, Doodle.
As those tears rolled down my cheeks, you comforted me. You looked up at me with eyes that questioned my sadness and you wiped my tears away. Then you smiled to let me know it would be okay and I couldn’t help but respond with a laugh.
How do you know, how can you trust, that you made the right decision for your child and yourself? How do you know that your child is ready to wean?
Near the end of our final nursing session, the one I documented here, the Doodle popped off and said “Bye bye nunnas.” She waved at my chest, I asked for another minute, and she complied for a few more seconds. Then she told me she was all done nursing, words she had never uttered before, and then she was off with toddler lightening speed on to something else. She didn’t even turn around for a last glance over her shoulder.
I wasn’t sure it was time. But it was.
Good bye, nunnas. We had a good run together.