I am not sure that Maria Montessori would have approved of our extended breastfeeding relationship. Montessori advocates weaning to a cup around the 9-10 month mark as a part of helping cultivate independence. I remember Joshua at that age and he was growing so quickly but was in my opinion no where near ready or willing to wean completely from breastfeeding. Montessori also advocates for introducing tastes and solids around the 4 month mark. We did not do this, following Joshua I did not feel that he was ready to start so we stuck to WHO guidelines and introduced food and weaning process at 6 months old. We did not force or push for complete weaning. Joshua eventually dropped down to one feed a day and recently we have stopped breastfeeding altogether, so we went to almost 22 months.
I fought hard for our breastfeeding relationship to start and got in contact with an IBCLC qualified lactation consultant who was wonderful. She helped us establish our breastfeeding, getting the feeding position and latch done correctly, helped me manage my supply and make sure that Joshua had a nice full feed every feed time. I remember it all through a haze, that time of being a new parent, learning how to care for Joshua and I remember wondering to myself if breastfeeding was just all too hard. But persist we did. And what a sweet journey we have had together. We have fed together through illnesses, through hot weather and cold (stuck to me with sweat or huddled into me for warmth), through the night in the early days and for comfort when Joshua needed reassurance.
I will always be proud of how well we did and how far we went together. I am so grateful that we were able to feed for as long as we did and for being blessed with the support to do so and will always be in awe of my body’s ability to nourish my son the way that I have. As I write this I am still mourning the final weaning and have been searching the internet for solace and found this poem which I thought I would share.
WEAN ME GENTLY
I know I look so big to you,
Maybe I seem too big for the needs I have.
But no matter how big we get,
We still have needs that are important to us.
I know that our relationship is growing and changing,
But I still need you. I need your warmth and closeness,
Especially at the end of the day
When we snuggle up in bed.
Please don’t get too busy for us to nurse.
I know you think I can be patient,
Or find something to take the place of a nursing –
A book, a glass of something,
But nothing can take your place when I need you.
Sometimes just cuddling with you,
Having you near me is enough.
I guess I am growing and becoming independent,
But please be there.
This bond we have is so strong and so important to me,
Please don’t break it abruptly.
Wean me gently,
Because I am your mother,
And my heart is tender.
~ Cathy Cardall ~
Joshua. Thank you for being such a wonderful partner in our breastfeeding relationship. I will remember all those times that I not only fed you but nourished our togetherness.
Perhaps I am wrong about Maria Montessori’s take on this. I am sure she would have wanted me to follow the child, and follow him I have. Our weaning has been gentle and Joshua is ready now to let go of this stage. It may be a little while longer for me to adjust to no longer having this as a part of our daily routine but I will gladly let you go Joshua to make your way in the world, wherever it will lead you. It may take Mama just a little longer to stop aching the loss of this part of us but I will catch up with you when I am ready.