Snapdragon quickly learned to nurse without snapping, but he never lost the eagerness. He would nurse in the morning when he woke, and after his diaper was changed. He would nurse before his nap and then halfway through his nap time he would wake for his elevensies nursing. He would nurse as many as ten times a day. He would nurse at bedtime and when he woke in the night, he would nurse again once or twice before morning light. Snapdragon loved to nurse.
When he got older and bigger, he became curious about the food his mommy, daddy, and sister were eating. It looked so yummy, Snapdragon began to think he might like it too, so long as he could still nurse. When he first tasted food, he found that he did, in fact, like it, but only after he had nursed. He would nurse at home, he would nurse at the park, he would nurse at the library, he would nurse at the store. Everywhere he went, he still wanted to nurse.
As Snapdragon got older, he turned into a Jabber-Walky who would go about his day, toddling around and talking. One of his favorite things to request by name, once his mouth knew how to form the sounds that made the words that gave him the power of request, was boo-boo. Mommy tried to get Jabber-Walky to say nurse instead, and with time, he even learned to say "Mommy, may I please nurse?"
By the time Jabber-Walky learned to speak so well, many days he would want to eat food and drink from a cup before he nursed, but he still wanted to nurse, especially before bed, and when he woke in the night, and before his naps, and on long car trips.
By the time Jabber-Walky was running and jumping and hopping and playing, he mostly nursed at home. Sometimes, if he was away from home for a long time, he would nurse somewhere else, but mostly, he just nursed at home. He would play and sing, build and paint during the day, and then when he was sleepy, he would nurse. He loved nursing. He loved cuddling with his mommy and the way she would kiss his head and tell him that she loved him. He loved resting his head on her arm and the way her arm was squishy and warm. He loved holding her hand while he nursed too.
His mommy loved their cuddle time too. He loved holding him and smelling his hair and having the special quiet together time when it was just the two of them. Mommy even loved the way Jabber-Walky would stop nursing and say "Is empty. Roll over," and then she would roll him over her tummy to the right side so he could keep nursing, and then he'd say "Now upside down." You see, Jabber-Walky had decided that to switch to the right side was called roll over, and switching to the left was upside down, and he never failed to correct mommy when she confused the two.
Sometimes mommy would say "but we just rolled over because upside down is empty," and Jabber-Walky would say "but now it's filled again," and Jabber-Walky was always right.
But sometime, when Jabber-Walky was nearly three and a half, something changed. Nursing, which had been, ever since he had learned to latch-on more gently, an easy thing for mommy and her boy, nursing became hard for mommy. Suddenly, it started to make mommy wince again when her Jabber-Walky would latch on. Jabber-Walky was worried that he had hurt mommy by biting, which he always tried not to do, but sometimes it happened on accident when he was falling asleep.
Mommy hugged Jabber-Walky and told him that the hurting was not his fault, but that something had changed inside her, with the way her body made his milk. Jabber-Walky did not like talk of changes with milk, but because he didn't want his mommy to hurt, he nursed less and less. He still wanted to nurse at nap time, and he still wanted to nurse at bedtime, and when he woke in the night, but he wouldn't nurse very long. Jabber-Walky would nurse a moment on roll over, then another on upside down.
This arrangement went on fairly happily for quite a while. Jabber-Walky was happy because he still got to nurse and he got to enjoy lots and lots of mommy cuddles. Mommy was happy because she still got to enjoy lots and lots of Jabber-Walky snuggles, but she wasn't happy that it was hurting more and more every time her sweet little boy nursed.
Then one day it had to be the end, because Jabber-Walky didn't want to hurt mommy, and mommy couldn't nurse Jabber-Walky any more. It was very sad for both of them. Jabber-Walky would beg his mommy to nurse him, and he begged to turn into a baby again so he could nurse, and mommy wished she could make things the way they used to be, but even good things, even sweet things, have an ending.
For mommy, nursing Jabber-Walky, that end came when he was three years, six months, and fourteen days old.
Now mommy cuddles Jabber-Walky and tells him stories, like this one, and hugs him tight when it is bedtime. Now Jabber-Walky tells stories to mommy and snuggles up when he's sleepy, and even though he misses nursing sometimes, he knows that his mommy loves him, and that he is going to be okay.
Nursing can not go on forever, mommies aren't built that way- but the lingering warmth the special bond between mommy and nursling.does.
*a huge thanks to Mendylady for inspiring this post by trying to help me through the heart-crushing early days of weaning. We are three nights without nursing now. There have been many tears shed on both parts, but it is time.