I have never been sad about my baby growing up before. I packed away her newborn clothes without batting an eyelid. I looked forward to her 1st birthday as the celebration of her life, not a farewell to babyhood. I’ve delighted in her milestones every step of the way, but today is different.
The RE gently pushed weaning Budi before rescheduling our FET. At first, I was surprised not to meet that with resistance. Then it clicked that I was never planning on nursing Budi into her third year of life. I figured she would self-wean around a year old. Or maybe it would be 18 months. Or maybe she’d need a little nudging.
I night-weaned her earlier this year out of desperation and sleep-deprivation. She’d wake to nurse every three hours at night. After 15 months, I was a wreck. I stopped nursing her to sleep at bedtime, spacing at least 20 minutes between end of nursing and putting her in her crib. By 18 months, she was sleeping until 5am, would wake to nurse, then fall asleep again for another couple of hours. We fell into this routine, nursing to sleep only at nap time or when she was sick.
Yesterday (Saturday), I picked her up from her crib in the morning. “Neh-neh!” she announced. “Like neh-neh.” I carried her into our bedroom and sat on my bed with her straddled across my lap. She tugged at my pyjama top. “Neh-neh,” she repeated.
I played peek-a-tit with her for the first time, lifting my top to expose my nipple, then hiding it again. It’s a variation on a game we play towards the end of mealtimes (she always gets the spoon on the third go). I lifted my shirt for the third time. As she clamped down, laughing, I thought, Is this the last time she nurses?
I shrugged off the question. I’ll wean when I get my period. That way I know how to time exactly one cycle before starting FET meds. Or maybe I’ll nurse until next Friday, when she will be exactly 100 weeks old (according to my Total Baby app). Or maybe I should keep going until her birthday. That would mean starting FET in December, which is a far cry from August like we wanted.
But this morning, my usual attempts to distract her—to space out the waking from the nursing, to break any wake-and-nurse association—were met with placid acceptance. I told her, “Neh-neh later. First we eat breakfast!”
“Neh-neh later,” she repeated.
She didn’t ask again.
“Neh-neh later!” she told me at nap time.
And then it began to dawn on me. Maybe she just weaned.
There was no talk of neh-neh at bedtime or any other time during the day.
So here I am, almost 39 hours since I last nursed my baby. For all my procrastination, it’s happened. Without warning. I’m just glad it is harder on me than it is on her.
I remember the last time. I have a piece of breast milk jewellery, a pearl made from my milk encasing a lock of my girl’s beautiful red hair. I breastfed my daughter for 99 weeks and 1 day, an insane or respectable length of time by anyone’s estimation.
But I am sad. It’s the end of an era.