Yes, I’m still doing THAT. Yes, he is two and two-thirds years old. Yes, the end is in sight.
I have discovered that after a certain point, most people no longer ask if you’re still nursing. I’m not sure if they assume that no one could possibly still be nursing a child who is toilet-trained, or if they assume that I am out of my mind and will never wean him so there’s no point in asking, or if they’re too horrified even to ask, but the questions have pretty much dried up. Heh.
Until recently, I was fibbing a little about how much he was nursing, just to keep people off my back, I guess. People would say, “Oh, he still nurses a little at bedtime?” And I’d answer, “Something like that.” Which was only a lie if “something like that” doesn’t include also nursing 1) first thing when I got home from work 2) 4:30 in the morning 3) 7:00 in the morning and 4) pretty much all day on weekends.
The weekend days were the first to go, soon after his second birthday. It was getting so that Mondays I’d have to wear an industrial-strength bra to rein in two very confused and pissed-off breasts by late afternoon. He tolerated this restriction pretty well, so I moved on to: the 7:00 am snack, which was making me late to work almost every day. That change made him cranky, but he was cranky in the mornings regardless (this has changed since I, the über-dork, got a sunrise clock—but more on that another time).
We were stalled there for a while; the habit of insisting on nursing the second I walked through the front door seemed unbreakable. Then something unexpected occurred: he learned that Weaning Happens.
I’m not sure if I thought that he already knew this (I had cut him back, after all), or if I thought it was too esoteric a concept, but it surprised me.
It happened one evening as I nursed him after work. I said, “You’re a lucky little boy, you know.”
“Yeah,” he said, and went back to the fount.
“Not every little boy gets to nurse, you know,” I said.
He paused for a moment, considering this. Then he started to list every toddler he knows who nurses.
“Sydney nurses,” he said.
“You’re right, she does nurse.”
“Baby Jake nurses,” he said.
“Yes, he does,” I said.
“Lucas nurses,” he continued.
“Actually, no, Lucas doesn’t nurse anymore,” I answered.
He stopped and stared at me in shock. Then his face crumpled up. He buried his face in his hands and started sobbing.
I realized that up until then, he assumed that some kids nurse, and some don’t. He hadn’t understood that it would someday stop, poor kid. I had just rocked his world.
“It’s ok, it’s ok!” I said, hugging him. “Lucas drinks milk from a cup now! He likes it! He’s happy!”
“Yeah,” he said, tearfully and doubtfully, and went back to the supply that he now knew to be endangered.
For the next few days, anytime anyone mentioned Lucas, he would announce, “Lucas drinks milk from a CUP!” But more significantly, he started to ask for milk in a cup. Up until then, he had always refused to drink milk from a cup unless he was at daycare.
The evening session disappeared not too long after that. I noticed that he also became less clingy; he’s not as unhappy to let go of me now that he doesn’t see me as a human binky, I suppose.
I had worried that the 4:30 session would be hard to quit, because he could find the goods on his own, after all (he has a toddler bed, which he stays in for a couple of hours before making the trip to our bed). But a couple of times I woke up enough to stop him and offer him a cup of milk I keep on the bedside table. This pissed him off at first—once, after refusing it, he actually went to the trouble of sliding out of bed, getting the cup from the table, flinging it across the room, then climbing back into bed—but he usually settled down pretty quickly. Soon, of course, he quit waking up at all.
Yes, people, I had to wait almost three years for my child to sleep through the night. Point and laugh if you will. I’m not ashamed.
Now the routine is, nurse for about two minutes, then drink some milk from a cup, then lie down and go to sleep. And that’s the only nursing we ever do anymore (ok, ok, I admit it, last weekend when a tile floor smacked him in the face and he got his first-ever nosebleed, my instincts took over and I yanked up my shirt. It startled him into stopping crying, too—he looked as if money had started to rain from the sky. Later he half-heartedly asked for it again, but didn’t seemed shocked when I said, no, only for bedtime).
I think we’ll hang here for a little while. No sense in rushing things, after all.