How to Deal with the End of a Nursing Relationship

It happened out of no where. My two year old was nursing at least 3 times a day (upon wakeup, nap, and bedtime). We had a little bumpy start to nursing when he was born, but we made it through. It took six weeks for us to perfect things. You know what I kept believing and saying to myself?

"We will figure this out."

My faith never wavered. We were going to figure it out. He had things to learn and so did I. We would figure it out.

I never said an actual goal of our nursing relationship. I was just going to go. Never wanted to think about the end-game, just wasn't in the cards. I only looked forward.

We had only a biting incident or two along the way. Sailed past his first birthday.

Then only about two weeks before his second birthday, he suddenly out of no where wanted milk. He bit. He bit HARD.

I set boundaries and ended the session. That made zero difference. 

I gave him second and third chances. That made zero difference. 

He eventually stopped asking and I stopped asking. 

(Now just before this all stopped, you must know that he nursed for over an hour one morning just a week prior!)

I was no where near emotionally prepared for this part of our journey. I didn't see it coming. He went from hot to cold instantly. 100 to 0. None of that "droppping one feeding at a time" thing. He went all out.

And it utterly (pun intended) broke my heart. I was so deeply sad. Suddenly, he was no longer a baby. He was a big boy who could fall asleep without my milk or wake up and run for fruit instead of my milk. Like that, an entire chapter was gone from my life.

We traveled to my parents to escape Hurricane Irma and one of those nights after I put him to bed, I just sobbed to my husband. I felt broken. It was just out of no where. I was blind-sided. How could he could from 100 to 0?

So heartbroken. 

He was wonderfully amazing grown and developing rapidly. I'm sure a lot devleopmentally was going on as he was growing linguistically leaps and bounds. 

I was lost unsure what to do with myself. Do I let myself "dry up" or do I keep pumping?

Because I wasn't ready to let my milk go and dry up, I decided to pump. Albeit, I didn't get much, but in my mind I was keeping the dairy bar open. Just in case he changed his mind. But mostly, I just wasn't ready. Did I want to consider donating to a needing momma? I wasn't sure. Pumping was the safest option I felt I had.

So I did. Never was I so thankful to see my milk drop by drop being collected. (And of course drop by drop spilled by my clumsy self on my shirt or couch, lol). I was so grateful for that milk. It help me feed my baby. I was able to provide for him from day one. I could give him comfort and saftey. I could be the one spot in the world where he felt safe and cozy.

I looked for the selfies I took while nursing. It made me cry so much, but out of sheer happiness. All those moments captured. 

I googled this sudden feeding frenzy of my wonderdful toddler. And you know what I found? A whole bunch of articles or blogs that made me angry! All of them were about how to wean your toddler! I went several pages in deep with the search engines, I just couldn't find comforting sympathetic stories of moms who had toddler that were unexpectedly done nursing.

It angered me. It angered me because it showed me that the majority of what's written is in a tone of "I'm so tired of this ...I just want my body back...I need my wine..." It had an angry and irritated tone! Here I was heart-broken unable to find the voice I needed for guidance, comfort, and help.

In our society too many voices (professional or through experience) really do a number to take away the connection with our babies. They misguide many moms into thinking you have to give things up and get them back to "normal" in X time. Infuriates me. I know that not everyone loves the infant or toddler years, but drives me mad that there are mothers out there that need to hear it's ok to have those years with your baby and be happy about it. They unknowingly get robbed of that closeness, connection, and happiness.

I had been to a LeLech League meeting a long time ago and felt I needed to go back. In one of my Facebook groups, I asked the question about my situation. I was looking for resources to help me process this huge shift in my life. I was invited to a LLL meeting that was the next day. The starts aligned and so I went.

When it was my turn to ask a question, I totally did the "I can't talk because I am trying not to cry, but am showing you my ugly cry face paired with my high pitched can't talk holding back the tears" thing. And then I just cried. The nice mom next to me put her hand on my shoulder.

Relief finally came over me. The leader told me of toddlers going on nursing strikes that last months, but came back. I had hope again. She gave me comfort that if I wanted to pump, it wasn't silly of me. I was given things to try that I hadn't heard of before.

I left that meeting feeling strong again. I went back to my little guy and reminded him that "we'd figure this out."

He began to show some interest again (with a small bite thrown in there) weeks later on his own accord, but it finally happened; I got to have one more nursing session with him . And another. I have no clue what the rest of our nursing relationship will look like and that's still ok.

I certainly won't take it for granted here on out. I'm so fortunate that I was able to experience and fall in love with nursing again.

To the mothers who have babies that are ready to end the nursing relationship before you are, I say this...

I'm sorry. I'm sorry it hurts so much. But like the Tinman from the Wizard of Oz said, "I know I have a heart because I feel it breaking." Remember that you feel the deepest depths of sadness because you do have an awesomely large heart; it's par for the course.

It's ok that you aren't ready. What it means to us as mothers is very different than what it means to your little one. Of course there is overlap there, but it's ok that you aren't ok with this huge change at first. Do not compare yourself to other females who have by their choice or not no longer have a nursing relationship with their child. Do not catch compar-initis.

This is a huge energetic shift. You can't apply logic and reason here. Things are shifting and progressing. That change can feel hard. It can take time for it to integrate (which might mean feeling even "ok" about it might take a while) into your energetic being. 

Remind yourself you WILL figure it out. When you have seed of hope that you are going to make your way through this part--whatever that is, you magically will come up with possible ideas or solutions to explore. Maybe it comes as a book, blogger, video, article, etc. You never know from where the next piece of guidance will come.

Get the support! Local LLL meetings can be a great source of support. Or Facebook groups for the LLL local group. Or other mom or breastfeeding groups. Point is, there is somewhere you can find support. I had to post in three different FB groups before I got what I was looking for. Keep looking and don't give up. Your spouse can support you, but if they aren't also milking, they will not know exactly what you are going through. Don't settle. Get your heart the help it needs.

If you are going through this, my heart goes out to you. I send so much love to your aching sad heart. xoxo.