It's been a little more than a month since I nursed The Peanut for the last time. I've tried to write about it several times, but I've found it surprisingly difficult. I'm not sure why, exactly; our experience weaning couldn't have been better timed or more mutually respectful. But I can't help but feel a bit sad that my breastfeeding days are over.
I loved breastfeeding both my children. I loved that my body could provide all the nourishment they needed for their first six months in the world. I loved the comforting warmth of their bodies pressed against mine. I loved the way JJ looked drunk on milk and love when he pulled off my breast. I loved how The Peanut's hands never stopped moving as she nursed: stroking my hair, patting my cheek, then reaching down to touch her own belly.
Of course there were things about breastfeeding I wasn't wild about. With JJ, the first two weeks were a hell of sore nipples and anxiety about producing enough milk. With The Peanut, I had the comfort of knowing from the start that I'm a genuine milch cow, but the misery of cracked and bleeding nipples stretched over an entire year as we passed a thrush infection back and forth. And I sometimes resented being tethered to my children when they were tiny; despite our best efforts, both would have rather starved than drink from a bottle.
I nursed JJ until he was 20 months old, which is when I decided to get pregnant again. I know I could have continued to breastfeed, but I didn't feel up for it. Weaning JJ was an incredibly organic experience: one day the thought popped into my mind that I was ready to wean, and the next day he skipped his bedtime nursing session. Within a month, we were done...and I was pregnant again.
The Peanut got to breastfeed until she was almost two and a half. By then, we were only nursing in the mornings: she would wake up, come into our bed, and then nurse and cuddle for a while. I might have gone on that way forever had my body not decided to stage a protest. One day, seemingly out of the blue, my milk dried up—and breastfeeding became an agony.
I thought it would be hard to talk The Peanut into weaning. Toddlers can be remarkably stubborn about the tiniest things, and The Peanut's beloved Dee Dee (as she called nursing) did not qualify as a tiny thing. So, bracing myself for a violent backlash, I told The Peanut one morning that Dee Dee would have to stop. She was surprisingly calm about it: "Why we not do Dee Dee any more?"
"Well, you're growing up, sweetheart," I replied. "And you've probably noticed that there's not really any milk coming out."
"Dee Dee all gone?" she asked plaintively.
"Yes, sweetie. It's all gone. But let's have Dee Dee one more time, just so we can say good-bye."
"No." She shook her head decisively. "I done now. No more Dee Dee."
And that's how it ended, with barely a whimper. We still have our morning cuddle sessions, and she still comforts herself by stroking my hair. (Cries of "I need to touch Mommy's hair!" ring out quite frequently these days.) But I miss it, I really do.
Good-bye, Dee Dee.