On March 23 Lily feel asleep for her nap without nursing. She didn’t ask for it and I didn’t offer. That was the first time in 3 years, 3 months and a day that Lil hadn’t nursed to sleep, aside from the very occasional nap in the car
Most days nursing didn’t bother me, I didn’t think much about it. Lily’s nursing was a constant in our lives, it was a major help most of the time, but there were the occasional days when I wanted nothing more than to never let Lily anywhere near my chest quadrant. Those days were a rarity and that’s great because I was determined to let Lil self-wean at her pace, no matter how slow that was, to be reviewed again at a later date if necessary. I did have a small hand in the day time and middle of the night time weanings, but only in the slightest ways. With the daytime nursing, she was still nursing on demand (but almost excursively at home only for a long time now, but Lil’s choice) until she was about 2 1/2, then one day I started just not offering anymore and at first nothing changed and then slowly she started going longer and longer at a stretch. And on the days when she was just nursing too much or too long, I’d put a timer on so she knew how long it could last.
With the middle of the night nursing I just one day decided I needed more sleep. I slept topless and when Lil woke up in the middle of the night and crawled into our bed she would just snuggle up to me and nurse back to sleep. This arrangement worked most nights and was great because a lot of nights I slept right through it. But she had always used me as a human pacifier and night time was the worst. It got to the point where some nights she would just nurse for hours and I would doze, but not sleep really well. I couldn’t break the suction without waking her a lot of the times. Just a reminder, Lil has never, ever, ever been a good sleeper. Anyway, one day a couple of months ago I had just had enough and I needed more sleep so I put a shirt on. When Lil crawled in to bed the first night, she tugged at my shirt and asked about it. I told her that I’d let her nurse for a few minutes and then she was going to let go and go to sleep. I did that twice. It worked. I was ecstatic. I let her nurse a couple of time in the middle of the night because of a bad dream or something, but that was very rare.
Since I hadn’t been doing anything to encourage or discourage Lil’s going to sleep nursing I was shocked when she just stopped one day. I know I’ve read that over and over again on blogs and in articles about extended breastfeeding “Timmy just stopped one day, like I always knew he would”, but I had started to doubt that would be me and Lil, I was convinced for a while that she was going to nurse forever. When we lay down on her bed to go to sleep I’d kiss her goodnight and then she’d either ask to nurse or just start pulling up my shirt. I never told her no, but every once in a while I’d give her the ‘none of her cousins (her age and younger) still nurse, and it’s fine with me if she wanted to keep nursing, but I’d also be ok when she decided that she was done, after all, you’re getting so big’ speech. While she nursed I’d snuggle her and smell her hair and pat her back and read my book on my phone. It was relaxing for both of us, most of the time. So color me shocked when we go by the routine on 3/22 and then on 3/23 she never brings it up. I probably held my breath the whole time it took her to fall asleep. (It usually takes Lily about 30 minutes to fall asleep, how that does compare with your kids?) I went into Waldo’s office and told him “you are never going believe this, She feel asleep without nursing.” The same thing happened when we went to sleep that night. The next day was my 36th birthday, I feel like this was a great birthday present. She hasn’t even asked to nurse in the last month. Success.
And as every parent knows with every success comes some kind of new challenge. In the month since she weaned she has also given up her nap (I’m totally bummed about this for the work week, but excited for the weekends, now we have more flexibility) and we have had to figure out how to help her to fall asleep without boobs. The last has been the hardest, but honestly not a totally brutal as I was afraid it might be. It is once again taking her about 30 minutes to fall asleep at night, I can live with that.