This weaning thing, it is a strange thing to go through... as a mom. I've been nursing babies for 3 years straight. For the last year I was nursing 2. To wean Charlie, well, it is so strange, so perfectly timed, for him.
Here's the thing. I would venture to say that weaning is complete, already! Weird. What I found out was, Charlie was ready. He may have been ready much earlier. I kind of put it off, even though it was starting to grate on me for half a year or more. I kept pushing it back and back and back.
I don't really know how to write this without it sounding negative. I think it is so wonderful when a mama can nurse her child for more than 1 year, 2 years, 3 years. It is so healthy. To top it off, my protectiveness for Charlie includes these special Down Syndrome-y things: a slightly increased threat of Leukemia, an increase occurence of poorly functioning immune systems. In reality, he'll probably never face a cancer diagnosis, but the literature I've read about nursing babies having less incidence of Leukemia definitely spurred on the nursing marathon. And, the fact that he has been so healthy strengthened my resolve that nursing was working! Then there was the fear of breaking his heart. I didn't want to him to feel distanced from his mommy. Last, how does a mother go about weaning? Heck if I know! I'd never heard of the "No Way Jose" nursing plan until I made it up, so there you go!
I think it was the beginning of this past winter when I realized that nursing was in some ways driving a wedge in our relationship. Charlie loved to nurse so much, but his nursing style is very uncoordinated, and as he grew the sensation grew stronger and more uncomfortable. I began to avoid cuddling up with him at times for fear he would ask to nurse. Then, if I said 'no' or tried to distract him he threw a fit. It was my fault. I never did teach him any other way to receive comfort than to offer the breast. It is such a fast fix in infancy, especially so for Charlie (Calvin, it seemed, always knew just what he wanted, and if it wasn't a nurse, then he would let us know! Loudly!).
Well, we continued to nurse through the winter to give him one more flu season of immune system support (or was it one more season of mama avoiding something she thought would be unbearable). In the mean time, I set a date of April 1st to get down to business and intentionally work of weaning. Now it is April 8, and he is no longer asking to 'urse'. He willingly drifts off to sleep with just a cuddle and a kiss. He settles into my lap for a softly spoken story, just content to be with mama. And I, well, I am relieved. I could hold him forever, staring at that sweetly sleeping face. I am enjoying this new aspect of our relationship. Is that okay?
I think it wonderful that he nursed for 3 years. What a beautiful time. I just find it, I don't know, ironic I guess?, that for us, the weaning was more for me. Charlie was ready. He was nursing out of habit, perhaps out of duty, though there was enjoyment and closeness there too (of course!). I was nursing him, in the end, partially out of fear. Fear of cancer, fear of illness, fear of facing something difficult and unknown... There are no hard and fast rules for how a child, when a child should wean. It's all about relationship and knowing your child, and yourself, I suppose.