That’s how old Sebastian was when he stopped nursing. Just last week. After two and a half years of nursing, following three months of exclusive pumping from birth, Sebastian decided himself to call it quits. Well, mostly himself.
Sebastian has been nursing exclusively since he was five months old. From birth to three months he was exclusively bottle feeding with expressed milk after a short three week stint of bottle and NG-Tube feeding. There were a couple months in-between when we moved to Cairo that he would nurse and bottle feed. Just as he decided he would nurse, he decided he didn’t want the bottle any more. I hoped that there would come a day when he would decide that he no longer wanted to nurse. Even with dietary restrictions due to Sebastian’s reflux (no dairy, no chocolate, no alcohol, no caffeine), I was happy to nurse as long as that was. I didn’t want to take it away from him, something that he did so well and so enjoyed, even found comfort in. Not to mention the nutrients, which I was so thankful for.
I had no idea it would be two years. Or two and a half years. When we moved to Toronto, Sebastian also moved into his own room. At this time he also decided that he didn’t want to nurse in the mornings. He would wake hungry and want to go straight to breakfast. It was over the summer after his seizures began and subsequent medications that he began sleeping through the night, which also meant no more nighttime nursing if he woke. I felt like things were progressing gradually and he was in some control of that; exactly as I’d hoped.
After he gave up mornings and I accepted that, he only nursed before nap time and bedtime. Soon he was falling asleep so fast at bedtime, he was hardly nursing. I started to feel like the weaning process was beginning. Last week when he became sick with a cold/ear infection, he stopped nursing. He was exhausted and congested so he fell asleep minutes after his head hit the pillow. The second night he didn’t nurse I pumped so that I could let him drink the milk. He had no appetite and wasn’t eating, but he was drinking. I was able to pump less than one ml of milk. I thought, ‘This is it.’ I decided to go with it and didn’t attempt to nurse him for the rest of the week, which really didn’t matter because he really was too sick to try.
Sebastian has been really sick before, but he has never stopped nursing. In May he was sick with the stomach flu and despite vomiting, he wanted to nurse. I really believe that it was likely a combination of being sick and being ready.
On Sunday, after a week of being sick, he started to feel more himself. His smiles were back and he was interested in what was going around him and sleeping less during the day. It had been since Monday that he nursed. He started to be very whiny around both nap time and bedtime. His dad took charge of both times to get him to sleep so that we could complete the transition from nursing. I was so thankful for that, I knew it would be difficult for both Sebastian and I. And it was.
Sebastian cried after I left the room on Sunday evening, which he rarely does now. It took Ali about a half an hour to get him to sleep. He then woke up and it was another half hour of trying and no sleep. I went up to see Sebastian and he immediately made the sound he does when he wants to nurse. I took him for a walk around the bedrooms and explained to him that there was no more milk, he was a big boy now and he was going to go to sleep without Mama’s help. He started crying and so did I. He started to make the sound for nursing again and I just lost it. Ali took over and I went downstairs to write in my journal for the next hour while Ali patiently worked to get him to sleep.
It was a rough night. He woke up twice in the night crying and then at 4am. But I then brought him to bed with us and listening to him whine himself back to sleep next to me. I was worried about how Monday night would go with Ali back at work. I need not have worried. For nap time and bedtime I laid down next to Sebastian and he fell asleep. Nap time was a bit more challenging, but he still did it. And bedtime, in less than ten minutes he was asleep. The next two nights were the same.
This week we’ve had so much fun at bedtime. We sit in the rocker and read books together. We do our ‘Good night’ and ‘I love you’ routine with the iPad. And we call Papa-Daddy to say good night over the phone. And Sebastian is happy. And so is Mama. I can’t believe what a big boy I have. So blessed.