I found Jeremiah in the Family Room, and was on the verge of tears. It was bedtime and I was holding Titus, who in turn was holding an 8-ounce bottle of warm, whole milk. I passed our youngest son off to my husband and plopped down onto the couch. The dam broke and tears gushed from my eyes, spilling onto my lap. I choked out the words, “He chose his bottle over me tonight!” I held my face in my hands and explained that I was unprepared for the wave of emotions that came along with it actually being over.
One month prior, I had — on purpose and by choice — decided to start weaning my “baby.” We had an upcoming trip planned where we’d be leaving the children for a few days. I thought it best to have my 20-month-old son weaned by then. I refreshed myself on the process and prayed that the deadline would be feasible, given the timeframe. I asked a few friends to keep Titus and myself in prayer. Grace for him, and peace for me.
The first week of omitting Daytime Feedings was rough — on both of us. He must have sensed that things were swiftly changing and frequently asked to nurse (which he referred to as “guck”). As I was committed to the cause, I enthusiastically offered him a “baba” instead.
There were a few instances that tested my resolve. They say that, “Breast is best!” and that is especially true when two-year molars are working themselves in. You might sympathize with me when I doubted my reasoning and questioned the deadline of being realistic. I found peace in knowing that God, who “holds all creation together” (Colossians 1:17) and “numbers the very hairs on our heads” (Matthew 10:30), also knew every variable at play and wasn’t caught off guard by any of it.
After eliminating Daytime Feedings, next to go was Morning Milk. There is something so peaceful about nursing a baby in the early morning hours while the rest of the house is still asleep. It’s that lazy, “Good-morning-Mommy-I-love-you-I’ve-missed-you-I’m-so-happy-that-you-came-back-for-me!” type of feeding. Still warm and extra snuggly, they tend to nurse themselves back to sleep.
I asked God to reveal to me what to substitute Morning Milk with and landed on fresh, fruit smoothies. Although I’d miss those sweet morning feedings, Titus transitioned very well with this particular change.
Upon waking, I’d grab him from his crib for a quick diaper change and we'd head downstairs to the kitchen to make his “moomie” with lots of laughter and smiles.
Bedtime Milk was the final feeding to eliminate. However, Titus was still waking up to nurse one to six times a night (depending on how much pain his 2-year molars were causing). I knew that before we could proceed, I would have to first stop those nighttime feedings.
I continued to ask God to reveal exactly when (and how) to end them.
One night, at 3:22AM, I woke up to Titus crying. I went into his room and sensed God whisper to my heart, “It’s time.” Instead of grabbing him from his crib to sit and nurse him in the chair, I stood and held him in my arms with his blanket draped over my shoulder. I swayed and gently rubbed his back. I prayed that God would comfort Titus in such a way that he would forget about wanting his guck. I put him in a dry diaper and massaged his legs and feet before laying him back down in his crib.
After a few minutes had passed, something amazing happened…he went back to sleep!
You have no idea of the magnitude of that moment, considering he had been waking up to nurse multiple times a night since the day we brought him home from the hospital. That night, Titus and I experienced a new concept: sleep! We got more sleep the next night, with even more the following as sleeping through the night became our new blessed norm.
We were finally ready for the grand finale - ending Bedtime Milk!
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven."
When you truly enjoy the chapter of the season you’re in, it can be somewhat difficult to turn the page. What makes it easier is believing that there are even better chapters, pages, and seasons up ahead. One of my momma friends informed me of the advantage I had of recognizing the last of my nursing days and encouraged me to approach it with closure.
Within a month of starting, I had successfully weaned. For the fourth time. For quite possibly, the last time.
The night it happened, ironically enough, I read Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury to the kids for their bedtime book. I’ve found her book difficult to get through without tears and having it tug at all of my heartstrings. The author brilliantly poses the question “Would I have held on longer if I’d known they [the firsts] were your last?”
We recognize all of the Firsts. In fact, we document and celebrate them. Recognizing the Lasts are a little trickier as they ride the coattails of new Firsts.
Titus’ last time nursing on Saturday, December 16th was unrecognizable until he asked for his “baba” for the first time on Sunday, December 17th.
It was everything I had hoped for, worked for, and prayed for. So why did it leave me in such a raw, vulnerable state?
Because that’s what Lasts do! They tug and pull and sometimes even yank at our heartstrings.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, there's “a time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
I wasn’t going to let the grief of the Last be outweighed by the dance of the First.
I wiped my tears away and started thanking God. I thanked Him that I got to nurse all four of my babies. I thanked Him for the opportunity of snuggling and supplying for them for 13, 15, 17, and 21-months, respectively. I thanked Him for helping me recognize this Last.
I give you permission to do the same. Take some time to cry and grieve for your Lasts, but do not forget to laugh and dance for your Firsts.
When the Lasts tug and pull and even yank at your heartstrings, know that God specializes in holding your vulnerable heart in His hands.
Enjoy the Firsts. Recognize the Lasts. And remember that with every chapter finished and page turned, a new chapter begins!