The end of an era has arrived. After 28 months, we have finally weaned.
I feel a little bit weird writing that. I didn't start out breastfeeding with the intention of doing it for so long. I went in with the expectation that after a year or so, I would wean since that is what most people did. At 12 months though, Finn was still just starting to eat solids. It didn't make sense to cut off his main source of sustenance and nutrition. By 18 months, we were the only ones left in our breastfeeding group still breastfeeding. Finn, however, seemed pretty adamant that we keep on going although I did try to curtail the night nursings since, hello, I really wanted to get some decent sleep. When he turned 2, I just avoided mentioning that I still nursed him. In an area where breastfeeding an infant seems at times to be an anomaly, I wanted to avoid looking like an extremist with a nursing toddler.
I am so glad that I nursed Finn this long. I am so glad that I waited until we were both ready to move on. I have full confidence that I made the best decision for our family. However, it took me a while to get to this place. I was plagued by a lot by indecisiveness and even some shame. It would have been better if I could have surrounded myself with other mothers who had made similar decisions, but like I said before, I don't live in the most progressive of areas. Instead, I just had to grow in confidence as a mother--that I knew what was best for my family. For me, confidence in my decisions as a parent has been the biggest challenge. I wish I wasn't so easily swayed by others' thoughts and actions around me. Time and time again, I feel impressed that we have made the best decisions given our circumstances, but that doesn't keep me from worrying and second guessing myself at the time. I really hope I get there. And soon.
For those of you who might be in a similar situation and want to know the nitty gritty details. They are as follows:
I followed Finn's lead. It has been a long time since he actually nursed to sleep in the evenings, so we had to figure out something else instead. It turns out that laying next to him, or rocking him in the chair is the best way to put him to sleep. I have never been able to leave him alone awake in a room to fall asleep on his own. He needs the comfort and safety of having someone there. The first regular nursing session to go was the one on waking up for the day. He could be distracted by seeing/waking up "Dada." The next nursing session to go was the 4am. This became a very transitive nursing session. Sometimes it occurred at 4, sometimes 5:30. If I was very lucky, he would sleep through it. Then the whole nursing establishment came apart because my supply tanked, and we went on vacation. I could tell my supply was diminishing because Finn started showing a lack of interest (not minding if I detached him and he wasn't asleep, etc). Then we went on vacation and everything was so different that a different routine for bed and naps didn't phase him. By the time we came back, I was completely dried up, and although attempts were made to use the previous routines which included nursing, we eventually used the one established on vacation: I lay down next to him for naps and bedtime until he falls asleep.
This experience has taught me to relax a bit. I read in a couple of books (The No Cry Sleep Solution being one of them) that you shouldn't fear habits. Meaning that if you find something that works for you and your child, then do it. Don't worry that you are creating a bad habit that will later have to be "fixed." When things need to change, they will, and you will find another solution that works. This is true. I want to tell all new mothers this. At least for the first two years (since that is all that I currently have experience with), everything is in a state of flux. Despite all your best efforts, things will change, and you, as a parent, just have to adapt. This is on one hand very frustrating, but on the other very comforting.
Currently Finn needs a parent to sleep with him during the night. And you know what? I am completely fine with this because I know that the time will come when we will be able to change this situation. He will reach a point where he no longer needs to have mom or dad sleep with him. I wouldn't have believed this a year ago. My former self would be worrying about how Finn is not independent enough at night and what does this mean, blah, blah, blah. To my former self I say, "Chill." Things will work out. He will get there. Right now you are doing just what he needs.