Oh, weaning. No matter when you do it, someone always thinks you're the Bad Mom.
For me, determining the time to wean was influenced by wanting to make it to the World Health Organization's recommendation of breastfeeding for at least two years, knowing that I needed to start taking non-breastfeeding-safe medication to control the more dangerous consequences of PCOS (heart disease, diabetes and weight gain), and allowing the babies to reach what would be a gentle conclusion for them. For months I was anxious about it. In the end, like so many other things in parenting, everything sort of fell into place on its own.
After months of dropping feedings, we were finally down to just the one before bed. I had decided on a date after their second birthday. But the day before the deadline, Veda caught a case of the middle-of-the-night crazies. Probably waking up from a bad dream, she cried inconsolably for what seemed like hours. I tried rocking, cuddling, shushing, a silly toddler version of kangaroo care that didn't work at all... in the end, the only thing that got her calmed and back to sleep was nursing her down. I took it as a sign. They weren't ready. In truth, I wasn't either. I'd had a couple of private cries after I put them down for bed in the week before. See, for me, this is it. I loved everything about pregnancy and breastfeeding (well, minus the worrying). As much as I know that our family is perfect the way it is, it's still so sad to me that I'll never get to experience those things again.
It didn't help that at my last RE appointment, the RE (who I love) had told me about how weaning works in the cattle he keeps. He told me how for a couple of nights a separated mother and baby would cry for each other, but once breastfeeding had ended, their bond was effectively broken. I knew that my babies would still love me, but I wondered if our bond would be different... somehow less.
Over the next month those bedtime nursing sessions got shorter and shorter. The babies were becoming more and more ready to not need that time to physically reconnect with me. And that month felt like an overtime bonus to me.
When the next deadline I had decided on came up, I briefly considered extending it another month. But it was time. They were ready, and I knew it. I was mostly ready. I left their room on that last night knowing that it was the end of something special between us that will never come back, but it's okay. That's how parenting goes. We have to engineer countless transitions - starting solid foods, potty training, entrance into social arenas that extend beyond our families, learning to operate as an independent adult...
Yes, our bond is different now, but I realize now that it was changing all along. No matter how old they get or how little they come to depend on me to meet their physical needs, I'm always going to be Home to them.