Up until recently, I was a tandem-feeding mama, with my 2 and 5 year and I old sharing many breastfeeds together over the last few years.
Mr 5 was breastfeeding twice a day (morning and night), but over the last few months that’s changed, with morning feeds gradually slowing to a stop, and many night time feeds skipped without any incident. The relaxing of routines during the recent school holidays meant that bedtimes were a much more casual affair than normal. Instead of heading off to bed at his usual bedtime, Mr 5 had many late nights and fell asleep in the lounge room or in my bed, or even in the car, instead of in bed. And this change seemed to make it easier for him to let go completely.
There was one night during the holidays when he was overtired and distraught. I brought him to his bed and he kept screaming at me “I WANT MILK!”. Even though there have been plenty of nights where I breastfed him to ease his distress, this time I didn’t. I explained over and over that I knew he was upset, and as soon as he calmed down he could have milk. I told him I wasn’t saying no, I just needed him to be calm first.
When he eventually calmed down, he did latch on briefly, but then unlatched and settled in my arms instead, with his face very close to my face. It’s like he had learned that breastfeeding wasn’t going to fix his problems.
Once upon a time, breastfeeding fixed all problems. You know what they say – a newborn only needs 3 things – nourishment, warmth and love. Breastfeeding provides all 3.
But then your newborn morphs into a child, and their needs become much more complex. Reassurance and love now come in the form of words, hugs, laughter and small acts of service, like the special breakfasts where I arrange his food into a funny face. He loves those breakfasts!
Although I didn’t know his breastfeed the next morning would be the last, I’m thankful I was in the moment enough to remember it clearly. The blinds were open just a little, his eyes were closed and he was snuggled next to me, instead of draped over the top of me. His sister was asleep behind me, so it was just him and me. It was just like when he was a newborn – like that one perfect moment spanned 5.5 years.
And just like that, it seems we’re done
Now I’m only breastfeeding one
Weaning didn’t live up to my fears
The occasion passed without sadness or tears
He still often comes to my bed
He has no breast, but cuddles instead