08/07/2014 10:34 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Last Days of Mommymilk

I stopped breastfeeding my son when he was 2 years, 7 months and 12 days old.

It wasn't easy.

When Aidan was 2 years, 7 months and 12 days old, his favorite word -- even more beloved than "car!" or "no" -- was "Mommymilk." He said it first thing in the morning, first thing after his nap, in public to get a rise out of strangers, on Skype to get a rise out of my mother, for the hell of it when we were playing with trains, and at the playground while jumping me and shoving a greedy hand down my shirt to pull out a flailing, unsuspecting boob.


The only thing Aidan loved more than saying "Mommymilk" was the sweet, watery nectar itself. He had long ago begun a romance with the drink we called "Aidanmilk," but apparently cow's milk was no match for the Mom-made kind.

One afternoon some time before I decided to wean him, we both fell asleep nursing in my bed. When I woke up at least half an hour later, he was still sucking away.

"Are you getting any milk?" I asked him.

"No, just boob," he said with a sly grin. Clearly his obsession wasn't about milk anymore. It was about boob. It was about Mommy.

Before I became a mother, there was a story I would refer to as if I knew what the hell I was talking about. I'd interviewed a film director in a New York coffee shop for a magazine article. She had shown up with her daughter and while we talked, the little girl ran around the café, climbing on chairs and chatting with the waitstaff. At some point, this walking, talking child climbed into her mom's lap and started to nurse. My single and childless self was horrified and vowed that as soon as my own kid could ask for milk, he was getting cut off.

Then I became a mom, a crunchy one at that, and decided I would let my delicious son wean himself when he was good and ready. But what happens when your son turns out boob-obsessed and shows no signs of ever wanting to stop breastfeeding? I envisioned him still grabbing my breasts in coffee shops when he was seven (or 17) and became very uncomfortable.

When Aidan was two and I was about six months pregnant with my second child, I spoke to a lactation consultant about weaning Aidan in time for the birth of the new baby. This seemed like a good timeline for me: I would give him all those good antibodies through flu season, without having to nurse two kids at the same time. The consultant gave me some tips and I got to work. We got rid of the morning session easily: My husband started getting Aidan up in the morning and taking him straight downstairs for breakfast. At bedtime, my boy got a sippy cup of Aidanmilk instead of nursing and that one went without a hitch, too.

My biggest hurdle was post-nap, because he often woke up so cranky, nursing was the only way to soothe him.

Frustrated, I spoke to Aidan's pediatrician, who advised me to stop worrying about it. These were my last few months alone with Aidan, he said, and I probably shouldn't add unnecessary stress to our relationship. He told me some kids naturally wean themselves when a sibling is born, while others who are already weaned regress and want to nurse again, in which case my efforts would be futile. When he asked me why I really wanted to wean Aidan, I wasn't sure. Was it societal pressure? Or was this really the right time for Aidan -- and for me?

I didn't get a chance to think too much about it, because I lost the baby I was carrying five and a half weeks before I was due. Her heart stopped beating suddenly. We never learned why. My world went dark.

During the hardest period of my life, nursing Aidan provided enormous comfort. When my milk came in, I suddenly had aching, leaking porn-star boobs that all the frozen peas and cabbage leaves in the world couldn't relieve. Expressing in the shower helped, but my midwife warned against it, saying my body would think I was nursing and produce more milk. With milk literally squirting out of me, Aidan wanted more. Another lactation consultant said, "He's no dummy," and recommended nursing him more often. She said it was more natural than expressing and eventually my production would slow down and we would find a balance.

What the hell, I thought. It relieves my discomfort and makes him happy. Sometimes I would cry into his soft baby hair, letting out the devastation, rage, and bewilderment that was consuming me, whispering over and over again how much I loved him.

Eventually my breasts went back to normal and Aidan's Mommymilk intake returned to once a day. Four months after our loss, he started going to preschool three days a week. He napped there, cutting our post-nap nursing down to about four times a week. Sometimes he would even forgo one of those if he woke up in a good mood.

"I want to go downstairs!" he'd announce and we would have toast and Aidanmilk and do a puzzle instead.

But I started to feel that we should eliminate even those two, three, or four times a week. I thought Aidan was clinging to a ritual he no longer required and that it was time to take my body back. I wanted to reassure him that, boob or no boob, mommy's love was his for keeps, but every time I tried to talk to him about stopping, he would become angry or teary and regress to behavior he'd long outgrown. He'd wake up in the night crying or cling to me, big eyes welling up, when the babysitter arrived.

One night at bath time we got into a fight. He'd thrown all his bath toys at me and splashed water onto the floor. When I finally dragged him out of the tub, he ran off without putting on his pajamas or brushing his teeth, and I wanted to strangle him.

Instead I grabbed hold of him and said, "Aidan, we are not going to have any more Mommymilk. We're done."

"No!" he shouted.


"I want Mommymilk," he said.

"You can have Aidanmilk," I said.

"I want Mommymilk," he said.

I hugged him and touched his sad little face.

"I love you so much, but we're not going to have Mommymilk anymore. You don't need it. You can have as many hugs and kisses as you want from Mommy and we can still cuddle. You will always be my baby, but we're not going to have any more Mommymilk."

He ran off.

Aidan didn't nurse again. He did climb into bed with me once, grab a boob and try to shove it into his mouth, giggling and maniacally shouting, "Mommymilk!"

But he was only joking. He was done, too.

This article is part of HuffPost Parents' World Breastfeeding Week series. Read more here.