I'm sitting here, crying as I write this post and laughing at myself for crying. Nothing's wrong; I just put my youngest to bed for the first time in about 14 months without nursing her to sleep. And it actually went really well.
Intellectually, I'm fine with this. She's more than 14 months old, she was only nursing at night and only from the breast that she "preferred." We'd clearly gotten to the point where it was just for comfort. Knowing that I was going to be away from home on a business trip, with no desire to pump at this late stage, it was a logical decision.
Hey, we had a good run. 14 months far surpassed any milestones I'd imagined for our nursing relationship. If you'd asked me within the first few months how I enjoyed nursing, I probably would have responded bitterly. No sleep, painful nipples, milk leaking out constantly....What's there to like?
Yet over time, I found a sweet comfort in nursing, in that time we shared. When she'd look up at me and smile like I was her universe, I felt loved. And needed.
Stopping nursing has its benefits: freedom at night (I can go out without having to put the baby to bed first!), not having to constantly wear bras and nursing pads, allowing my body to finally go back to its normal pre-baby state.
But I'm sad, anyway, because it means she's not such a baby anymore. We're not going to have that nightly ritual, that time for just the two of us to be still and present together.
I am no longer needed in the same way.
So much of watching your children grow up is learning to let them go. I watch my beautiful girls, and I'm flooded with a frightening feeling of transience. Nothing is permanent; everything changes. This change is just one of many, and I'm sure it's not the hardest one.
But I still need a moment. To say goodbye to my baby—and hello to the bright-eyed toddler she's become.