Weaning done gradually and when mom and baby are both ready is the ideal. However, what about when weaning is necessary for the mother to care for her temple of the Holy Spirit?
A close friend of mine was diagnosed with a chronic illness that causes her body to break down. She needs to get on several strong medications contraindicated while breastfeeding in order to stop the attacks on her body and to allow her body to heal. She really struggled with the situation. Her baby was not ready to wean. She tried to distract her with daily trips out of the house and with sippy cups filled with yummy, healthy drinks. But if her baby really wanted to nurse, she would go ahead and do just that. Because her baby kept desiring to nurse, she was thinking of postponing treatment out of love for her baby. In the end, everything worked out - she was able to gently encourage her baby to wean just in time start her medications.
My friend is glad to be starting on the road to improved health, but she is still sad at needing to wean her little angel much earlier than anticipated. There are so many emotions involved with weaning and also hormonal changes that can make it a bitter sweet affair. Maybe others will not understand why you needed to wean? There might be feelings of guilt or frustration with your body. You might wonder if your baby still needs you? Will you still feel that same closeness with your baby? Will others still treat you in that special way reserved for pregnant women and new mothers?
Then there is the situation that a few moms out there will understand - how will you feel after your youngest weans on his or her own after you have breastfed so many babies almost non-stop for more than a decade or a decade and a half? Will you be able to move onto another chapter of your life - one that doesn't involve nursing bras and nursing babies to sleep and comforting toddlers at the breast?
When I was thinking about the topic of weaning now that we have just finished Lent and have celebrated Easter Sunday, I was thinking that there are some parallels between Lent and Easter and weaning. It can be a sacrifice to let that nursing relationship go due to chronic illness or due to your child being ready to move on. However, there is joy at the end - cherishing those wonderful nursing memories that you will always have, knowing how many physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding you passed onto your child, and the beauty of following God's natural design and waiting expectantly for the next road God will lead you on.