Some say it’s time to stop nursing when your child can ask for it. Other’s say it’s when your kid can walk or hold a cup. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends shooting for one and the W.H.O. sets two as its benchmark.

I ignored them all.

My daughter is now 2.4 and I’m still holding on. Just before her second birthday I declared that weaning should begin “But only part way,” I said, “I’m doing it in stages to minimize shock.” Nursing her to sleep was the first to go. It seemed like a good strategic move. It would make bedtime easier and would save her teeth from inevitable rot. Next went the morning nurse and, shortly after, nap time indulgences were eliminated. With the extinction of those two snacks went my extra sleep. There were no more leisurely mornings spent suckling my offspring while falling in and out of sleep and my mid-afternoon nursing naps gave way to long car rides trying to get my daughter to drift off. “Let’s do Boobies in the car!” she’d howl as I pressed my foot down on the accelerator. There were so many times I was tempted to pull over and give her what she wanted just so we could both fall asleep on some side street. But I held fast. I meant business. My family and friends took notice. They started keeping track. “Just one more nurse to go,” they’d remind me. “You’re almost there.”

“Yeah,” I’d say, “I’m going for the last one just after my husband finishes school.”

But then he finished.

“Is it time?” they’d ask.

“Just as soon as my mother-in-law visits,” I’d say.

But then my mother-in-law came and went.

“Is it time?” they’d ask.

“Just as soon as we go on that out-of-town trip,” I’d respond.

But when the trip was over I changed my tune, “Well after the moon is full…well some time following the third game of The World Cup…if a black cat circles around my stroller… if I have a dream about a cow…” The excuses just kept coming and coming like I was in high school and trying to get out of family game night.

I tried everything to avoid the inevitable.

Then last week it happened. I got the sign. It was clear as water. It was like hearing a man with a bullhorn shout through another bullhorn that was attached to a third bullhorn. “STOP NURSING” he cried. “S.T.O.P”

Sage was lying next to me. We had just finished dinner and we were doing our pre-teeth- brushing nurse; the only nurse of the day. Suddenly she pulled away, “I wanna listen to ‘Paleontologist ,'” she said. My husband heard her in the next room and shortly delivered the ipod cuing up her favorite They Might Be Giants song: “I am a Paleontologist.” At first I zoned out and just enjoyed the music with her. But then somewhere around the second verse I glanced down at my daughter and it hit me that she was pressing an ipod to her ear with one hand and was holding my boob and nursing with the other. She was rocking out with a mobile device while breast-feeding. Suddenly, I could imagine her nursing at twelve, “Oh my god! Jamie was a total bitch to me and I’m like totally depressed because I was going out with David but now he likes Olivia and we’re probably gonna break up and I really need some boobie to take the edge off.”

It was scary!

Later that night I called a friend and recounted the events, “So, Sage was nursing and then she asked to hear “I am a Paleontologist” and started dancing with an ipod while nursing. An ipod!!! If that isn’t a sign that I should stop nursing, I don’t know what is.” My friend listened to the story and then responded quite simply. “You know, it’s funny. I thought you were going to say that you should stop nursing because your daughter can say the word ‘paleontologist.'”

I was silent.

“I guess that makes two reasons.” I said.

So Monday I set out to wean my daughter for real.

When Monday didn’t pan out I shot for Tuesday and when Tuesday came and went it was Wednesday and then Thursday and then Friday and next it was the weekend.

Now it’s Monday all over again. And all over again I nursed her. It’s like I’m a junkie just trying to get that last fix. “It’s one nurse,” I tell my husband, “why can’t I shake it? It’s only one.” But as I hear myself it occurs to me that it’s not “one last nurse” that I’m struggling to let go of, it’s my daughter’s infancy. It’s her dependence. It’s her first words and her first steps. It’s how she used to sleep on my chest. It’s how she once fit in the crook of my arm. It’s the extra soft skin she had above her wrists. It’s the time she stayed up all night just because the world was new and there was so much to look at. It’s the first time she spotted the moon and heard a guitar. It’s how she always tried to close her tiny hands around the wind.

Something about nursing keeps these things real. If I stop, I don’t know where they’ll go.

Still, I know it’s time.

So as I fall asleep I make the promise that I’ve made each night for the past week, “I’ll wean her tomorrow” I say. “Really. Really.

Tomorrow…”

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