We are officially weaned. The morning of Saturday, March 27th was the last of the mama milk for Ace. It has now been ten days since then and Ace is doing pretty well. The first couple of nights were the roughest. Which seemed odd to me at first since the morning feeding was the last one to be cut - but I guess he just knew that he wasn't going to get it then so he was generally upset the entire time. He has had some separation anxiety and isn't sleeping as well as he had been (which I think is a combination of his illness and weaning.)
Ace and I have been weaning now actively for about a month now. Naturally, he's been having less and less for several months now - but he certainly was an often comfort nurser - so it was only since March that we really made a 'strict' schedule for when he was allowed to nurse. And aside for a time or two during his flu - we stuck to it pretty well.
When the schedule was introduced it was: 7am, nap time, and part of the nighttime routine. Surprising to me, the nighttime feeding was the first to go - he was content enough to rock with me and read a story and then he asked for his cup of milk or water. (We also ceased the use of the bottle at about the same time and are exclusively a sippy cup household now.) I was a little sad to lose the nighttime feeding first, but it truly made the nighttime routine more simplified and more uniform between parents.
The next mama milk to be removed was the nap time feeding. Ultimately, in hindsight this was a poor choice. The nap time feeding should have been the last one to go. I'll know better for future weaning purposes. The reason I believe it to be a mistake is that by keeping the morning feeding (which was done in our bed after 7am) was that there is no 'distracting' at 7am (or earlier) it's just a matter of holding him off until 7am and then he got the milk. So when I removed the nap time feeding second (which for three days was NOT met with acceptance by any means and resulted in a nap only ON me after sheer exhaustion) that left only the 7am feeding for last.
Ace had one week of the 7am feedings exclusively. The 7am feeding was introduced a few months back when we noticed the correlation with excessive night wakings and nursing. Once we cut out nursing in the 'middle of the night' I set the time for when he would be able to nurse in the morning. 7am worked because at that time it was when the first light was showing up. He still spent from 5am-7am waking seeking the AM feeding hoping it would be 7am, so it still wasn't ideal - but it was better. The cut off date was the 27th. Ace caught the flu on the night of the 22nd, and so he did get an extra feeding twice during that week aside from his AM feeding. But, by the end of the week he was nearly back to normal and so we stuck with the preplanned weaning process.
The morning of the 27th was the last feeding for Ace and I. It was a sweet time for us. The remainder of the day he did ok not being given any mama milk. I let him know that the mama milk was empty and that it was all gone. However, I could give him a cup of milk and a hug and that mommy never runs out of hugs. He accepted this for the most part all day on Saturday. The next three nights however were pretty much not much sleep for anyone. Ace was having full on tantrums seeking to nurse and when being denied was throwing a full on semi-conscious fit. It wasn't pretty. Ten days later, he still occasionally asks for it, still fusses mildly in the morning, when he says 'milk' and I respond 'I have water' (usually denying it.) But he's doing better.
Lessons learned? Knowing what I know now I will leave the nap time milk in play the longest. It is far easier to distract from 'no milk' during the day than in bed while everyone would prefer to still be sleeping. I don't think it would have been nearly as traumatic in the night those first few nights if the routine of him not getting it in the morning but still getting it eventually during the day had been an option. We'll see how things go in future weaning endeavors.
Regardless of the weaning those 580 days were a wonderful bonding time for me and my son. I was blessed not to have too many issues with nursing. I had an abundance of a milk supply, which resulted in three bouts of mastitis, lots of leaking, and a full year of a B/D chest - but all of that was worth that eye contact, his little hands resting on my breast, and hugging my son close while he nursed. It is a time that I will miss and not forget.