According to Dr. Sears, weaning is not “something that you do to a child. Weaning is a journey from one relationship to another.” He goes on to explain that “the key to healthy weaning is doing it gradually.” Through weaning, mothers are helping their children move into a new phase of development, “not forcing him into it.” He warns that weaning by desertion is “traumatic.” And yet, that was the only option for JR and I.
I could have told you then, and can tell you now, that neither one of us was ready to let go of the other. You can call it codependence, you can call it mutual need, you can call it attachment. Whatever you call it, it was one of the strongest rings in the chain and all of a sudden it had to be cut off. It still breaks my heart to recall how it had to be done. You could not have bestowed a harsher sentence on either one of us at that time, and probably still cannot do. Being asked to let JR go in that way, after having just been asked to let go of her potential sibling, was more than I could take at once. As for JR, the poor little girl did not know what hit her. One day she was attached to my breast and the next she was being forcefully removed from it. And it took no less than 5 people colluding together to do that.
Those were long days, and even longer nights. Friends and family offered their support in every way they could. Some took JR out, others distracted her when at home. People brought me literature, breast compresses, and cabbage. I took showers, sat through engorgement and lived through the pain. I heard JR’s cries, saw the look on her face, and felt her reaching out. But I could not reciprocate. I had to let her go. I hardened my heart and distanced myself from her. She had to be physically removed from my company, and she resisted. She was fighting for what she knew best, and wanted most. She cried when she saw me and she cried when she saw her Grandma and Teta walk in the door; she knew they were there to take her “away.” She did not want to go, she did not want to play. But the one thing she wanted, she no longer could have. It was a sad time in the Mike household, but we all needed to make sacrifices. It was too bad that JR had to do it at such a young age.
And one day, it was over. Everything I had worked towards in the realm of breastfeeding came crashing down. All the research, the worries, the talks with the lactation consultants, the hours with the pump, the stash in the freezer, everything became a distant, a memory, an icon of another time and place. My supply dried up, my breasts stopped aching, my pump was put away, and JR learned to live without. But my heart still hurts and my eyes still well up when I think back. We were not ready, it was not fair, and it should not have happened that way. I wish I could go back and undo it, redo it, or not have to do it, but I cannot. It was a tough lesson, but maybe it was for the best. It was crash course introducing me to the art of “letting go.” Maybe it is time I let go of that time. Maybe it is time I threw out the last of those frozen compresses that, at the time of writing this, still calls my freezer “home.” I had been holding on to it for all this time, but maybe I should let go.