And just like that, we are weaned. Exactly two weeks ago tonight, Swee'pea nursed for the last time. And, as with so many things as they come to an end, I didn't know it would be the last time, so I didn't savour any of the details, didn't mark the occasion appropriately in my mind. But I'm ok with that.
We'd been down to just a bedtime feed since about June, when Swee'pea dropped the morning feed. Before that, we'd been at just a morning and bedtime feed since I nightweaned him in April. I have been toying with the idea of weaning him for months, but could never really come up with a solid argument for or against. For most of the summer, I have been the one initiating the bedtime feed, asking him if he'd like to nurse and taking him to our rocking chair. Then for a few weeks, he got very keen on nursing, specifically requesting a nurse after we'd put his pajamas on. Then he got sick. And our routines went out the window and I just decided not to remind him of the nursing option. And he hasn't nursed since.
I'm surprised that I feel just a little bit sad about it, because I thought I'd nursed him for long enough, and our weaning had been gradual enough that I would just be ready. I certainly felt ready. This kind of change is good, even if it comes with a touch of regret, with a small wish to go back and re-do the last time, with the foreknowledge that this is the final time. But there were at least TWO times in the summer that I remember nursing him while thinking that would be the last time. So I've really made my peace.
I suppose it is just that this change is irrevocable, and marks a milestone in Swee'pea's inexorable and growing independence, a good thing really but still undeniably bittersweet, that whole process of growing up. Two weeks ago we were still a nursing pair, and now we are simply, separately, a mother and child. I could be melodramatic and say something about Swee'pea no longer taking comfort in my body, but that's not true at all. He's still a cuddle-monkey, and he often engages in a little belly kneading and prodding for a bit of comfort here and there through the day. I have no doubt we have lots of cuddles ahead of us.
I wanted to honour the experience of breastfeeding Swee'pea with a montage of scenes and sensory details from the past 20 months. But already I can't really remember much. Isn't that terrible?
I do remember the warm feeling of wee baby Swee'pea in my arms, his tiny feet with the long skinny toes of an old man wedged against one elbow, his soft round newborn head against the other. Lately, nursing him has sometimes felt like trying to keep hold of an eel as he twists and writhes around, his feet now dangling below my knees and his head heavy against my elbow.