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Winning at Weaning: We Did It!

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By the time this is posted it will be nine days since Coraline last nursed. This weaning is a strange thing, something I tried to study, to orchestrate, but just happened in spite of all my plans. I always said I wanted to follow Coraline’s lead — I expected that she would follow her own primal instinct and nurse for however long she needed to. But I didn’t anticipate how tired I’d be of breastfeeding after doing it for 30 months. I wanted to stop. I threatened to stop a hundred times. But I was afraid to — as I’m sure I’ve said here before — because I was afraid (however irrationally) that it would irrevocably damage our bond. So I’ve just been waiting for the day when she no longer asked for babas and I could proudly say that I hung on until the very end, knowing that I didn’t take anything away from her, that she gave it up on her own terms…

In all the parenting books out there, there’s fine print that basically says Prepare all you want, things will happen in their own way, in their own time. You forget this until you’re on the other side of some milestone — like potty learning or the first time they crawl — and you realize that it in no way, shape, or form went down the way you expected. For us, weaning was no exception: It took some nap and bedtime help from Daddy, vanilla rice milk, and lots of talk about being a big girl to redirect her, though not as much as one would think. And there were never any tears, which we took to be Coraline’s way of saying “I am ready for this, too.”

With all Coraline’s milestones there has been some sadness. I cried the night before her first birthday. And when she took her first steps. And the first time she said “mama.” It’s a bittersweet thing, watching your baby grow up. I expected to be heartbroken when she finally weaned, certain that I’d lose my special connection to my special girl. But that too is not how it went down: Over the past week I have enjoyed more affection from my daughter than I ever imagined possible. She tells me many times a day, without provocation, that she loves me, sometimes even to the moon and back. She spontaneously hugs and kisses me, and falls asleep with her head on my chest. She seems happy, confident, and content. Weaning not only didn’t drive us apart, it actually brought us closer.

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