By Julia Rivellino-Lyons
Jamaica Plain MA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 2, March-April 2005, pp. 53-54
When I had my son, Thomas, breastfeeding went pretty well for us after a difficult first few days. In addition to being reassured that he was nourished and protected by my milk, I enjoyed the closeness and quietness that nursing provided.
After my maternity leave, I went back to work full-time and pumped two to three times a day while Thomas was in day care. As the months went by and our nursing sessions dwindled down to three times a day, then two times a day, then once a day, I cherished our moments together even more. Every morning, we connected through nursing. It was a wonderful way to start the day. When Thomas was about 15 months old, however, I realized that I might want to wean him. This surprised me, since I always used to worry about the possibility of Thomas weaning before I was ready.
When he was 16 months old, I planned a weekend trip to New York. I was faced with a decision to make. I debated with myself about bringing my pump on the trip. Did I want to tote it around New York with me? Did I really want to wean entirely? Luckily, Thomas made the decision for both of us.
From the time he was about nine months old, we taught him baby sign language so he could signal if he wanted "more," "milk," or to "go." He could also tell us when he was "sleepy" or "all done" with an activity. Two days before I was scheduled to leave on my trip, I brought him into my bed for our morning nursing session. He sat up, put his hands together, and gave me the "all done" sign. Amazed, I asked him if he wanted to lie down next to me, but his meaning was clear. He was "all done" with nursing. Again, the next day, the day of my departure, he signed "all done" when I asked if he wanted to nurse. After I returned from my trip, he nursed about two or three times over the course of a week, and that was it.
Some friends have told me that no matter what age their children were when they weaned, they were upset enough to cry during those last few sessions. I didn’t feel this way because Thomas was so sure of himself. I feel grateful that he knew how to sign "all done" and used it so clearly.