Took a bath. Clean diaper. Dinner. Ice Cream. Brush teeth. Nursery Rhymes. Prayers.
Now time to cuddle with Mommy for our nightly routine. He lays on my arm and nurses. We look at each other and just know the love between us is so incredibly perfect. He knows I am always there. I am always there.
He gets a little restless… left side, then right, then left, then right. Tired. Eyes closing. My eyes close. A few minutes pass. We walk into the bathroom where his crib is and I rock him in my arms as he continues to nurse. His right arm starts to relax, then his whole body.
Ten minutes later. Ready for sleep. Gently lay him down in his crib. Cover him with his special crotched white blankie Grammy made. Quietly walk out. Close door behind me.
And that's it. It’s over. My eyes feel tingly and my heart feels thick. My head is hurting and a distraught look has made its way permanently onto my forlorn face from worry.
It was our last time nursing. We were trying to wean for months. We knew we had to if we ever wanted to get his Eosinophilic Esophagitis controlled. It had been such a painful emotional road for me to accept this fact. Nursing was our thing. I couldn’t imagine life without it nor did I want to. I thought I would nurse him until he was three if he wanted to. But I knew he had to stop. I wanted it to be natural. I wanted he and I to both feel ready. I had felt so far from that. Why did it have to come at such a hard time? We were moving and living in and out of hotels and friend’s houses and everything was unfamiliar, and we’re supposed to wean him too? It seemed more than I could even bear to think about.
A little miracle came our way and we were able to spend a week with an old friend from high school and her family. She happened to have a son Jude’s age and seeing him was heaven-sent, I know. He is very independent, not nursing, and the thought came to me that nursing may be holding Jude back in a way. He was growing up and I had to let him. I had planned on getting settled into our new apartment (which was taking weeks longer than we thought it would) to lessen the shock of it all. The thought occurred to me one day while at Kara’s that maybe I should wean him before we move into our new apartment. He wouldn’t associate nursing with the new apartment at all. He would just realize it was something of the past and we don’t do that here. He would be back with his own crib and his Poppy Bear and all his old things and those comforts would help distract him from the loss of nursing. This thought seemed far too cruel so I pushed it to the back of my mind.
Days later, our move-in date was approaching. I had Dan put him to bed to see how he would do. I left the apartment distraught and worried, as my usual lately. I tried to think of someone I could call who may be able to give me some advice. My dear friend, Kelsey, came to mind. I called her and we had a talk, that again was undoubtedly heaven-sent. We concluded that my earlier idea may just be best. He had been showing me different signs that he was “ready.” I could not deny the signs. I knew Heavenly Father was helping me be able to let go and helping Jude tell me in his own way, “Mom, I’m ready. I’ll be fine.” Mid-conversation I received a text from Dan saying he went to bed easily, did not cry, and was perfectly happy. I knew what we had to do. Two days until we moved, one more day to nurse.
I had Dan put him down for his nap the next day to see how he’d do. Again, he did great. He was very content and did not cry or seem to long for me. I knew I wanted to nurse him one more time and then we would be ready.
Fast forward to today. It was his first time going to sleep with me, without nursing. I was so nervous. Every time I have tried to do this in the past he quickly becomes livid wanting to nurse. Not this time. We read a story. He laid on me. I rocked him. He went to sleep. Not once did he show a desire to or try to nurse. A miracle. Truly a miracle in my own life. I can not count the number of desperate prayers I have plead for this to go naturally and not be hard on Jude. They were answered. I am so incredibly grateful. I know he will be fine. I know we will still be just as close and cuddle just as much. I know he was ready to move on and finally, I was too.
Last night after many tears and a headache and a face sore from crying, I had a Klondike bar. The deal was sealed. I could never nurse him again because I had eaten what he couldn’t have. It was bitter sweet, but mostly bitter.
Nursing didn't come easy to us. Starting out with jaundice, he couldn't nurse at all for over a month. We pumped and bottle fed and tried and tried and he finally starting nursing again. We worked at it and worked at it. We had to use the shield and the breast friend and every other assistive device that exists. We tried everything and anything and goodness, it wasn't easy... but it was worth it! It soon became our favorite thing to do. Whether bedtime, naptime, middle of the night, wake up time, break time, hungry, bored, hurt, whatever. It was always there and we always loved it. We have nursed in every place you can imagine; I should have kept track. He has always loved nursing, with a passion beyond all reckoning. It has brought me so much pride and contentment and satisfaction to be able to nurse him and provide him with nutrition, especially when he began to have difficulty growing. I love my baby and I am so grateful I have been able to nurse him for a year and eight months. I will always look back on the thousands of tender moments I have had nursing my sweet child with the most wonderful and fond memories.