A time of weaning: The end of a journey, the beginning of another one.
Weaning. There were days that I thought the moment would never arrive. Then there were days I wish I could have stopped time because I felt like we were on a journey where we had been hurdled through space and time and light speed. I wanted to stop it, stop time and breath in the moments, trying to imprint the memories so deeply in my mind that it would always remain crystal clear.
Though this time can be quite intimate, I also want to share it publicly for many reasons. First, because it is a tremendous thank you of gratitude to some very strong women who saw me through from dream, to reality, to sustaining. Beth, Anna, Jennifer, Dagmar, Solimar, Aisha, Rikki and Nicole! Women who lifted me up and guided me when I listened to my instincts on childrearing and turned to them for support.
Having failed due to my own lack of education and trying with David to breastfeed: I learned so much between his birth and Aaron's. I was determined, come hell or high water to make it work. To trust my body, to know I was created to sustain life. And though the beginning months were rough with Aaron and our nursing relationship, I persevered. There were phone calls mixed with tears to my friends as I sought advice, comfort and knowledge. There conversations of happiness and thankfulness and I succeeded and made it through the stormy beginning. And there was support when I journeyed into uncharted waters.
Extended breastfeeding. I knew instantly and instinctively I would nurse Aaron until he self weaned. I didn't know when that would be or how it would happen, but I knew I wanted to do it. Despite it not being a 'popular option' in the Westernized world, despite the murmurs, the rolling eyes, the "are you STILL nursing?" questions, despite being told it was "just wrong to nurse a 2 year old"....I forged ahead, knowing I was sustaining Aaron and providing with nutrients that changed daily, monthly, yearly with his needs, and providing immunity and antibodies for a healthy immune system.
And most of all, I'm publicly blogging about this so I can encourage other mothers who want to nurse, who are nursing and who are in "under cover" extended nursing relationships. I want them to know that they are not alone and that there is no need to hide or be ashamed.
On Sunday evening, September 7th, 2011 I was cutting the boys hair. It was Aaron's turn and he sat in the chair like the big boy he is :) Suddenly he said "Mama, I'm not going to nurse anymore."
I stopped cutting his hair and asked what he had said because I didn't think I heard right. But I did. For a moment I just stood there and then sadness came over me, and then the thought, "well let me wait and see."
A week went by without him nursing or asking. I was stunned, happy AND sad. Then one early morning he asked. I said "how about just cuddling in my arms?" If he put up a fight I would nurse I told myself, if he didn't then the weaning continued. He said "Okay, I'm a big boy." Then a few days went by and he asked again, and the same thing happened. He's only asked one other time since with the same response.
I debated a long time, and still do sometimes to continue weaning or just nurse. After all I said I'd let him do it ALL on his own. I don't have clear emotions on it, but know that it's time. And he's doing so well. Though I'm incredibly sad that this is our last child and I won't nurse another, I tell myself that he had 3 amazing years!
I never would have imagined at the start of my motherhood journey back in 2006 that I would have done many of things I did. The family bed, baby wearing, cloth diapering, gentle direction, extended nursing...were things that I hadn't thought about in some areas and was totally against in other areas. Funny how the heart changes and instincts kick in when that helpless newborn human being is placed in your arms!
What an amazing journey it's been and now I'm once again heading into uncharted waters in these parenting travels. I snapped this picture in my yard. It just hit me one day as I was thinking about all of this, how my children and I are like this picture. A firmly rooted foundation and a new 'life' springing forth, being sustained, nourished and loved, just as it should be :)
I also know, that in learning this and continuing on the new journey that I'm still not alone! :)