That photo was taken last week. My little nursing enjoying a mid-afternoon snack while at the Graceland parking lot.

The last time Atticus latched was at 6:27am on July 26th. He bit me for the upteenth time in a week, and my heart knew we had to change something. Kevin suggested we go buy a pump, and try giving him a bottle/sippy. My child has taken a bottle on four occasions, so I was very doubtful that he would actually take anything other than the breast.
I was angry at Kevin for suggesting this method, but the biting, scratching and crying on Atticus’ part was becoming more and more heartbreaking to watch.

As I pumped for the first time, I felt tears well up in my eyes. I was devastated. I never set out to nurse my child until they were four, but I wasn’t ready for it to end so suddenly.

I will continue to pump milk for him, and I don’t know if I will wean him off of that, but for now, I feel it is what is best for both of us. Perhaps it will curb the hormonal changes I am going through right now as our nursing chapter closes and something new begins.

This isn’t how I imagined self weaning would go. It was abrupt, it was painful and we are in the midst of figuring out our next steps. In two days he hasn’t once tried to nurse. A part of me wants to offer him my breast, but I’m also fearful of being bit again. Last night, I lay on the bed top less with Atticus curled up beside me. He didn’t so much as look at my breasts and want to nurse. My child formerly would have latched immediately, and fallen asleep at the breast.

Maybe the signs had been there the last month. At every nursing session he would bite, claw and push me away. I thought he needed nursing more at that point, not less. I didn’t want to listen to the naysayers in my life suggesting he was weaning. I knew that it was just a phase… Or so I thought.

When other mothers told me their child self weaned at 16-20 months, I used to think they were fibbing, and they wanted their nursing relationship to end, but as my child lays next to me; snuggling, eyes heavy and sipping at his cup instead of me, I’m beginning to understand that maybe this was Atticus’ way of saying he was ready, and I just wasn’t listening.


About the author

Xza Louise Higgins is the founder of MommyCon, creator of The Mommy Dialogues, and punk rock mom to two year old Atticus in the great city of Chicago, IL. She is incredibly passionate about birth options, human rights, and promoting gentle parenting practices.

No Comments

  1. Melanie -  July 30, 2013 - 10:55 am

    It’s definitely not easy. My EBF, rarely-took-a-bottle-nursed-every-2-hours-like-clockwork-until-8-9-months-old baby self-weaned at 15 months and it was brutal for me. The hormonal changes you go through are the same as post-partum, so realize you’re not alone. If you start feeling the baby blues, reach out and talk to someone. Love, strength, and peace to you, Mama.

  2. Xza -  July 30, 2013 - 12:26 pm

    Thank you Melanie. I feel beyond hormonal. It’s just a very weird sensation knowing that nursing is over.

  3. Ashley -  July 30, 2013 - 12:38 pm

    How old is atticus? My daughter is 14 months and still very attached to the breast at night and when I return from any time away. I have been noticing signs of biting and times where she just seems to be dry nursing. I feel like my milk supply has been low and I am unsure if these are normal signs it’s coming soon. I’m not sure how to feel, I wanted to nurse until 2 but if she’s done before then I’m trying to tell myself it will be okay. You’ve also done an amazing job nursing and as a mother and I love to follow your family’s story through TMD mad instagram. I wish you the best Xza!

  4. miranda leigh -  July 30, 2013 - 12:41 pm

    xoxo my 15 month old son suddenly went from 10-12 times a day to 3 times, then after a week or two to one time a day. he hasnt asked in two days. i know its because the change in taste because of my pregnancy, but its bittersweet. im glad he did it on his own, on his own terms, but on the other hand hes still my baby <3

  5. Abby -  July 30, 2013 - 12:44 pm

    This breaks my heart and also gives me perspective. My near-18-month-old has gone back to newborn-style nursing. Just constantly at the breast and begging “milky milky!” I am super annoyed by it and worried about what happens when she starts back at daycare in a few weeks. But the alternative… Wow, I am just not ready for that. I am so sad for you, but just figure it is beginning a new chapter for you all.

  6. Beth H -  July 30, 2013 - 12:47 pm

    My DD self weaned at 15 months when my milk supply tanked during pregnancy. It’s been about a month since she’s nursed (though she does like to cuddle with the boob when she’s tired), and I’m finally starting to accept it. Her weaning threw me into a pretty awful depression, and I felt like a failure even though I knew, statistically, it was more likely that she’d wean during my pregnancy than continue to nurse. I’m selfishly glad that I’ll have another nursling in about 17 weeks, and am kind of holding out hope that DD will nurse again when she sees her baby brother nursing. Hugs to you, Xza. Dealing with my baby weaning before I was ready has been one of the saddest parts of my life.

  7. Katie -  July 30, 2013 - 12:47 pm

    I think we are starting to pump too

  8. Suzanne -  July 30, 2013 - 12:48 pm

    Xza, it has been wonderful watching Atticus, Kevin & yourself grow through the trials & tribulations of babyhood. I have reflected many times about when I raised my children, the regrets and the unsaid, but understood, ‘leave me alone, I can do this’ moments can be devastating. I did try nursing (without success), but there wasn’t the support back then as there is today. I offer you a huge hug of congratulations along with a never-ending box of tissues, yes, hormones can be overwhelming. Hugs to you!

  9. Cassie Dull -  July 30, 2013 - 1:28 pm

    Aww Xza I just teared up reading this. Endings are never how we imagine them. What’s important is the beautiful 20 months that you breastfed Atticus. He is so lucky to have a wonderful mother like you. Isn’t it amazing how sometimes they teach us to let go and let things happen?

  10. Amy -  July 30, 2013 - 1:32 pm

    I think we might be getting close. As you know, Caleb is the same age as Atticus. He hasn’t been nursing to sleep. He’s been nursing at bedtime, but then wants his sippy cup full of water and to lay down on his pillow next to me and go to sleep. I hope we’re not weaning.

  11. Copper -  July 30, 2013 - 1:58 pm

    My daughter self weaned at like 14 months. I was so sad. My goal had been two years. She just became too independent. 🙁

    • Xza -  July 30, 2013 - 2:49 pm

      🙁 I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. Especially Atticus… he nursed all night still.

  12. Leigh-Anne -  July 30, 2013 - 2:28 pm

    I teared up reading your post, and my own experiences with the feelings you expressed are years behind me. As a working mom that had been pumping 2-3 times a day, struggling to keep up my supply for more than a year (she self-weaned at 14-15 months), I was initially sad and slightly angry when she stopped nursing. I felt like I wasn’t being the mom that I should have been (not nursing until college, but at least until 2) and I felt like the childcare arrangements that we had weren’t as supportive of EBF as I would have liked. I mourned the loss of our nursing relationship- even as I recognized that my family dynamic would change in a way that would be more inclusive of my husband, give me more autonomy, and was clearly what Margot wanted. It was tough, but just like L&D, it’s part of the story, not the entire thing. Good luck you guys, and Kevin, those hormones are no joke. Be even more kind, loving and supportive, OK? 😉

  13. Katie -  July 30, 2013 - 3:18 pm

    I wrote more earlier- but didnt show up for some reason.
    But honestly, I didn’t think babies wean their self so early too. I thought maybe they were given too many cups too often. (Not that it was a negative thing, just saying- it does happen) but they know what they need. Like I said I think I’m going to start pumping instead of bf too…
    It will be different- but a new journey. Be proud that you are teaching your child independence and STILL giving him the best milk he can have. I understand the bitter sweet feeling- out babies are growing too fast.

  14. Xza -  July 30, 2013 - 6:19 pm

    Katie, that’s how I felt/feel. Atticus was never offered a cup/bottle/Sippy and was “behind” for not taking one at all at 18 months. I don’t know what changed, but I guess he was ready.

  15. Christina -  July 31, 2013 - 9:30 am

    We are at 22 months and counting of nursing, with no end in sight, but it sounds like the end can be abrupt. While we were on vacation recently, my son sometimes went 14 hours without nursing, and I had to start preparing myself for the fact that one day he will just stop. I’d never heard about the hormonal changes that happen with weaning – thank you for the warning!

  16. Elizabeth -  August 2, 2013 - 9:10 pm

    I am facing this with mixed emotions, though my little one hasn’t shown great signs of ending the night nursing, he has cut back. He cut back before though too, and then sprung right back on as soon as a few more teeth popped in. It’s bittersweet, but its doing our best and trusting our little ones instincts as we do our own.

  17. Alli -  August 2, 2013 - 9:11 pm

    My child was 11 months and did the same thing. He bit squirmed and cried. I researched this and one of the top reasons for early self weaning was change in taste of breastmilk. I tasted it and sure enough it tasted terrible! It was so salty and unbearable to taste! The top reason for change in taste of breastmilk was pregnancy. Sure enough I took a test and I was 3 months pregnant with our now 4 month old daughter! I feel better knowing that it wasn’t because he didn’t want to and that he just couldn’t stand the taste. Hope this helps!

  18. Jennifer Sanford -  August 2, 2013 - 10:59 pm

    My 3rd child and first boy self weaned at 13 months. I was pretty shocked and upset too after nursing my first two 18 months at least. He just pushed me away one day and LOVED his table food. I didn’t even know what to give him to drink and didn’t contemplate pumping at that point. Then my 4th had a pumped bottle around 6 weeks while I was teaching and got nipple confusion and lost weight and my milk supply in 2 weeks, then weaned at 3 months?! I was supposed to be the nursing pro…but oops, I guess not. That totally messed with my head. I’m about to have baby #5 and will try to avoid issues and nurse for 2+ yrs if I can. But you NEVER know. All babies and situations are different. Don’t ever assume like I did.

  19. Claire -  August 2, 2013 - 11:40 pm

    My daughter self weaned at 11.5 months. It had tapered off gradually, from feeding on demand every 2-4 hours, to only at bed time and first thing in the morning, to only bed time. But was still a shock to me. She began, and loved solids at 5 months and had 4 teeth when she weaned. I tried pumping and offering the breast milk to her in a bottle, but she didn’t want any of it. No problem with the bottle, she loves drinking water too. She was ready to move on, and I just had to deal with it 🙂 And find more ways to sneak her calories in!

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