While I greatly admire those who let their child wean on their own, I have felt for a while that I was ready to be done with nursing. Between three pregnancies (one miscarriage) and nursing our two kids, I have not had my body to myself for five and a half years. So, several months ago, I did the "don't offer, don't refuse" thing during the day and started trying to distract my now 27-month old when he wanted to nurse during the day. He still nursed a couple of times a day and a lot at night, up until about a month ago.
Then, one day about a month ago (at about 26 months), I snuggled with him and explained that when he was hungry or thirsty during the day, he could now have food and juice (at our house juice is reserved for special occasions) just like his older brother. Nursing would only be at bedtime and at night. I was prepared for a protest, but he just laughed and said "yes." Twice, he asked to nurse during the day after that, but I told him no and gave him apple juice instead. He was absolutely fine with it...no tears.
For the last month, he has been nursing at bedtime and usually once more at night. We co-sleep, and I've made a conscious effort to get up as soon as he wakes up instead of nursing him then. Then, three days ago, I came down with a UTI, and was put on a pretty strong course of antibiotics due to a condition that runs in my family. The doctor told me not to breastfeed during the course of the medication, and recommended against prescribing a milder dosage/alternative antibiotic. Since I've been trying to wean, I reluctantly agreed. (When I got home, I did look up the medication and read that it was probably still OK, but decided to use this as a last little push to wean, nonetheless.)
Before I took the first dose, we all talked a lot about how DS2 would not be able to nurse anymore at night when mommy took the medicine, and that he could have apple juice like a big boy instead, just like his older brother. Also that he could have lots and lots of snuggles instead. I asked him if he wanted to nurse one last time, and he said no. Then, the evening came, and I expected it to be a rough night.
But no, before I put him to bed, he said "lots and lots of hugs, lots and lots of apple juice." I gave him some diluted apple juice in a sippy (don't worry, we'll switch to water in a few days..apple juice is really a rare treat around here), and snuggled next to him in bed. Not once did he ask to nurse. He had his hand on my breast until he fell asleep, but he fell asleep without nursing. Woke up a few times in the night...same thing.
Last night was the third night, and when he woke up in the middle of the night, he cried a bit for the first time since we stopped nursing. He said he was hungry and wanted to nurse, and I offered him some banana. He didn't want any, and fell asleep in my arms after about 10 minutes.
We still co-sleep and he wants A LOT of snuggles...more than usual, but he hasn't nursed now for three days. Aside from last night, weaning him has happened completely without tears. My husband and I are amazed that he actually understands what is going on, and agree that he seems ready to wean. If we had gone with child-led weaning, he would probably have nursed for a while longer, but this is fine with us too. He has been ready.
I had to express a little milk yesterday, due to discomfort, but there really isn't a lot there. So, it's happened very gradually too. Just three months ago, I was dreading the idea of weaning my constantly nursing toddler, and now, here we are...
I already miss nursing...but this is a relief too. I already feel like I have more energy.