I breastfed my first son, Oliver, until he was 11 months. At 11 months, I was still feeding him once twice a day. My plan was to continue breastfeeding him until he turned one. I wasn't sure what I was going to do after that, but I knew that I wanted to breastfeed for the first full year and nothing was going to stop me.
Well, nothing but a determined little boy who threw me for a loop on the day of his eleven month birthday. I went to feed him but he closed his mouth and turned the other way when I tried to feed him. I was a little taken aback, but sighed and decided he was just having an off morning and we'd be back on track that night. Same thing happened that night. I put him down in his crib, and figured he'd wake up hungry in the middle of the night and we'd have one of "those nights". He slept through the night.
He went on to reject the breast for the next three days after that when I offered it to him. I'm not going to lie, I was beside myself. What had I done wrong? What was wrong with me? Why didn't my babe want my milk anymore? I booked an appointment with my doctor and she assured me he would be fine, he had weaned himself and at the end of the day, maybe that was better than me trying to wean him and having an awful time with it.
It was just another reminder from my little man that he was in charge and I was just along for the ride.
I thought I was prepared for the possibility of my younger son weaning himself.
It turns out I wasn't prepared! My younger son, Harrison, completely weaned just after turning 11 months. When it happened, I kept thinking about how quickly Harrison is growing up – much quicker than his older brother, that's for sure! But having him not need me for food, well that was a tough pill to swallow. I went from being the only source of food, to the main source of his nutrition when he started solids to just mom now that he was rejecting the boob. I wasn't prepared for that.
I cried. I cried because I was sad that this beautiful bonding experience that we shared was now over. I cried because I felt like it was my fault again. I cried because my little baby is growing up and I can't stop it. I cried because I felt selfish for wanting him to stay a baby.
I reminded myself that I need to celebrate my boys growing up and becoming independent.
Two days after completely weaning himself, Harrison did something that was almost like him making a statement to me about growing up, becoming independent and my role in all of it. He was holding onto the couch, walking along and suddenly he let go. Harrison stood there, on his own two feet, not holding on to anything for about 30 seconds. He looked at me and he smiled. It was as if he was saying "Mom I'm going to stand on my own two feet one day. I need you to watch and be proud of me and of yourself for helping me get here."
Then he plopped himself on the floor, crawled over and gave me a slobbery, gooey, boogey filled open mouth kiss on my cheek – reminding me that he'll always be my little guy and and he'll always love me, no matter how much or how little he needs me.