A few months ago after some disruptive night waking, we were working on getting her to stay in bed. Part of the plan was telling her that she had to sleep until morning. But how would she know when it's morning? We get up most days before 6:30 in our house, and it is still dark out. So we said, "You need to sleep until it's time for waffles."
So she began to go to bed at night saying, "Night night. Waffle." And lately she wakes up saying, "I hungry. Waffle."
Bella weaned with our help when she was 16ish months, because I was pregnant with Ruby and I simply wasn't up for nursing two. Josh would retrieve her and feed her breakfast every morning (not a bad deal for a tired and pregnant mom). For years to come, Bella would wake up wanting to eat immediately, which I think was from the memory of her morning nursing, followed by her early breakfasts with Daddy.
Ruby weaned at about 20 months. The truth is that I don't remember exactly when it was or how it happened, because it happened on its own and I didn't really keep track. She weaned so slowly that it wasn't traumatic or difficult.
I'm often surprised by how fearful some mothers are about weaning. They worry that if they don't actively wean their baby by their first birthday, the child will nurse forever. They worry that their nursing toddler won't gain independence, or won't eat real food, or won't...what is it? Why do so many husbands and grandparents and doctors and friends hassle moms about weaning?
None of these worries came to pass for us. My babies nursed when they wanted, and weaned when they wanted (except Bella, who had some help). They all eat vegetables, and they all separated when it was time to go to school (Louisa will, too). Gradually, my toddlers were able to get the comfort and calories they need from other sources. That doesn't make it any less sad for me that Louisa is weaning. The connection between a mom and her nursing babe is unique and lasts such a short time. And she's my third and last child. Sniffle.
I know that Louisa appreciates what I've given her, because she told me. When she was 20 months old, she was nursing when she stopped and said, "Tank you mommy nursie sides." (In her parlance "ah side" meant "other side"). It was, at the time, the longest sentence she'd ever spoken.
Last night at bedtime, I sat in the glider in Louisa's room and pulled her onto my lap to read her a book. When we finished reading, she leaned toward me and said, "nursie," so I offered her my breast, as I always do when she asks. She put my nipple in her mouth for about five seconds and then let out a big giggle and said, "Night night. Waffle."
Nursing break on a family bike trip, August 2012
Waffle time (with serious bedhead)