Mia stopped nursing last Tuesday night. It was very sudden. She went from nursing 5 times a day to wanting nothing to do with it. I called it a nursing strike and pumped and begged her to nurse and cried and stressed over how little solid food she ate and worried that she would starve or become dehydrated. She continued refusing to nurse. At first, she arched her back and cried, and then later she would pat my breast or even kiss it but showed no interest in latching on. She refused breastmilk from a cup or sippy cup or straw or bottle.
I was devastated. I cried for days. Every time I offered and Mia refused, I cried. Every time I pumped, I cried. Every time I thought about it, I cried. I was unprepared. I hadn't planned to wean now or even soon. I felt unnecessary, like Mia no longer needed me, like anyone could take care of her now and that I was replacable. I worried that I wouldn't be able to comfort or console her, that she would love me less, need me less.
I was at a complete loose end. The one constant in my life for the past year has been nursing, and I didn't know how to mother without it. I didn't know how to get Mia back to sleep when she woke at night, how to wind her down enough for a nap, how to quiet and calm her when she fell and bumped her head.
Despite all my fears, Mia was fine. She was happy and active. She was eating better than she ever had. She was thriving and joyous and didn't seem to give it a second thought. And so I decided I would take my cue from her. Last Friday, I started telling myself that she had weaned. I decided to stop pumping, to just let it go. But then I didn't. I kept telling myself she had weaned, but I wanted an insurance policy just in case. I eventually did stop, and then started again, and then again and again, and right now I have stopped but won't make any guarantees.
My goal was no formula. My goal was a year. I made it, Mia is huge and chubby and happy and I am hugely proud of making that goal, of not giving up when it hurt so badly I wanted to jump out the window or when I thought I was going to go mad from 10 solid hours a day of breastfeeding. I am happy with how it went, I am grateful to have been able to do it, and I am coming to terms with the end but am still sad, still reeling. I feel the loss keenly. It is something I came to treasure that I will never get back, and for that I cannot help but mourn.