aletteratweaning-01-2April 7, 2015 1:37 AM

19.5 months old

Jude Man,

Today I decided to stay outside with you longer as we approached nap time instead of getting inside to nurse you before you slept. We've been down to just two breastfeeding sessions a day now, leading up to your sleeps.

But today the sun was shining and you did a great job eating your lunch so I knew you were nice and full, so we stayed in the back yard longer as you ran to me, happy, exclaiming "blue!" and "pink!" to identify shades of chalk.

This evening, you nursed for perhaps just ten minutes before moving into nearly an hour of silly cuddles. You grabbed each side of my face and smiled. You kissed me without prompting, gave eskimo kisses, tickles, hugs, identified my nose/eyes/teeth, and giggled and giggled. After I'd say "I love..." you would joyfully add in "YOU!" It was one of the sweetest and cutest cuddling experiences ever and I felt so loved by you.

Tonight in the middle of the night you have awoken a couple of times crying. You have four teeth coming in and they are really hurting you. I have gone into your room, all full of lavender oil and white noise, to comfort you. After a quick diaper change and administering of ibuprofen I wondered how you would respond were I just to rock you in the dark. When you were younger, there would have been no chance of this going well — nursing has always been the ultimate comfort to you when you are in pain or have had a nightmare.

But tonight's experiment amazed me. You rested your head on my shoulder and let your scared sniffles transition into deep and sleepy breaths. I swayed and patted your back. We settled into the red rocking chair and I curiously waited for you to sign "milk" or to reach into my shirt.

Instead, you splayed your impossibly long limbs over and around mine. I felt your fingers twirl my hair. Your ear found a way to listen to my heart. Your breathing slowed further.

I have been making food for you for such a long time, sweet Jude. The things I have taken in have turned into a perfect form of nutrition for you. You have always been an excellent nurser and from the days when you were tiny and attached to me nearly all day and night, to when you chunked up to a huge and adorable baby, covered in rolls and full of milk, to more recently when you have stopped by for 30 second sips during playtime or nursed while somehow simultaneously practicing yoga, it has all been so precious to me. It has been a joy to feed and comfort you, at each and every step of your life so far.

As I rocked you tonight and started to mourn the possible closing of this chapter, your sweaty little toddler hands around my shoulders and neck helped me to realize that this amazing thing was happening — it wasn't just milk you were after tonight when you were in pain. You are now old enough to understand and simply want — me! My just being there with you was your comfort. As I released hot tears into the crown of your head, covered with a mess of hair that could only belong to a boy, not a baby, I felt grateful and proud of myself for the entire breastfeeding experience and also so proud of you for taking this step in stride. You are resilient and flexible and you are wise enough to know that I'm not going anywhere. When you cry in the night I will come breathe with you and help you find your way back to sleep. No matter what, forever.

Thank you for sharing this mama milk journey with me, little one. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life.

I love you,