When Will We Wean?

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It seems like I’ve been writing posts for the past two years about weaning my daughter, Emily.

It seems this way, because I HAVE been writing posts for the past two years about weaning Emily, who will turn four in November.

While there were several nursing strikes and times where we have skipped sessions, Emily, for the most part, has insisted on having her milkies first thing in the morning, and then right before bed.  I really thought she would wean at two.  Then, when she didn’t, I really thought she would wean at two and a half.  And then three years came and went.

I’ve been talking to her about how she is a bigger girl now, and how it is okay for her to have milk from a cow, or milk from a coconut, or milk from a goat.  She seems intrigued by the idea of all these different milks, but has been fairly insistent on her mama milk.

Since she turned three (and I inwardly thought enough is enough about nursing), I’ve been operating on the “don’t ask/don’t refuse” policy.

Until recently, she always asked.  Until recently, I never refused.

But over this summer, there has been a gentle shift in our breastfeeding relationship.

There were some nights where I was way too hot and sweaty to have her on me, and I gently refused to nurse with her.  During these times she got upset and cried and it was hard for me to tolerate.  Instead, I would offer her a cuddle, or a song, or a story, or to watch “Baby Mine” on Youtube seven times.  She would eventually settle down, and I would maintain my sanity.

The major difference was we were both okay with it.

For me, weaning is an emotional topic.  Emily is my last baby.  I fought so hard to nurse both my children, so the ending of this very special and intimate relationship is a bittersweet for both of us.  To feel I am finally in a place where I am ready, willing, and able to wean Emily completely is a major milestone.

Don’t get me wrong, had Emily been ready to wean at two or three, it would have happened.  I would have felt sad, but would have gone gracefully following her lead.  I’ve certainly never forced Emily to nurse.

I believe a child and mother come full circle with their nursing connection when both are ready.

I know some find nursing a toddler to be crazy or creepy, that I should have set a limit way back when, and that it is just plain weird for a child to be able to ask for what they need/want.

Someone I am “friends” with on Facebook just posted a really judgmental statement about full-term nursing along with an article about a mom nursing her three-year-old.  Out of morbid curiosity, I scrolled down the comments her friends had posted, and was saddened to see so many people who found it to be a negative and icky thing to nurse an older toddler.

I personally cannot fathom why someone would NOT want to nurse a child beyond infancy, but that’s just the point–  I don’t understand it.  It isn’t my brain, or my situation, or my story to tell.  So, I try not to be judgmental about their judgment, or to take it as a personal affront on my beliefs or relationship with my child.  Everyone’s relationship is different.  If you aren’t one of the people in the relationship, then yeah, you’re not going to get it.  But to rush to calling something mean names because you don’t understand it is not nice, IMHO.

What I’m rambling around to A.) is that despite the fact it has lasted longer than I expected, my nursing relationship with Emily feels like it has been right for us.  And now it feels right that I am pushing the weaning a little bit more assertively than I have in the past. And B.) Don’t judge what you don’t know/understand.  Please.  We moms already take enough crap and make enough second guesses for every move we make in this society.

I have let Emily know that it is my body and if I don’t want her to nurse she will have to respect my boundaries.  Because like any other relationship, breastfeeding is a two way street, and boundaries need to be respected and attended to.

Over this summer, there have been other times where Emily forgot to ask for nursing.  And I left it at that.  There have also been a few occasions where Emily slept over at a grandparents’ house and went without nursing and was totally find.

As I write this, it has currently been two and a half days since she last snuggled into me to nurse.

It feels like we are getting there, and I’m so glad we are both okay with it.

I’ve let her know that when she turns four, we will no longer do milkies.  Her three year old brain is processing this information, but it feels like it will be time, and we will both be read, willing, and able.

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11 responses »

  1. I always read your posts about nursing Emily with great interest. At 2.5, Evelyn is still nursing with ZERO signs of readiness to wean. I have my moments where I love nursing, and others where I’m ready to quit, right then and there.

    I hope the transition to having no nursing will be okay for Emily. I think the fact that it will be gradual is probably very helpful. Though I can imagine you will both mourn the ending of that particular part of your relationship. I look forward to reading all about it. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you so much for reading, and for not thinking I just sound like a broken record about it! I really am trying to go about it mindfully but naturally. I’m feeling ready, but the last thing I want is for Emily to feel traumatized or like it has been a big loss for her… xoxo.

  2. I love the discussion of how it’s your body, too. When Potamus was younger, and still so much apart of my body, I had a hard time setting those boundaries. But now, the older he gets, the more the line of differentiation is coming in, and it feels so natural. We’ve been having many different conversations lately about bodies and things that are okay and sometimes not okay. I am okay with him snuggling in to me. Until sometimes I just need my own space. It’s been a great adventure.

    I hope that the transition to being weaned will continue to be natural and as stress free as possible for you two~

    • Hi. Thanks. I’ve been keeping it mostly stress free, mostly because I’ve continued nursing. . . I really want it to be something she is comfortable with and feels ready for too so it isn’t a traumatic loss for her. Maybe I’m crazy, I dunno… Hope you are well!

  3. I can so relate to this! I weaned my middle child when he was 23 months; if it wasn’t for the fact that I was 23wks pregnant I would have kept going but I kept getting too many contractions after even with nursing only being twice a day. My middle child and I always have had a close connection, especially in comparison to me and my oldest; so part of my emotional struggle was i feared that our closeness would change; like somehow no longer nursing would end all connection; I felt guilty for needing to do it for my body and especially guilty that I would be feeding and having a similar connection like his and mine (but different because of our new family member being a completely different and unique person); I feared he would be angry and jealous about the new baby nursing and he would act out about it or it create even more distance between us; I also felt beyond selfish for wanting to wean him because I was making room for devoting my energy and body for someone else’s needs, especially because i knew that tandem nursing him and a newborn would be way too much on me in every way.

    However, weaning was surprisingly easy and my now youngest and I have been nursing for 4 months (tomorrow!!!). Every worry vanished because of how close my middle and youngest are. He know has taken comfort to my belly button ring which he always played with when we nursed anyway so it’s in a way replaced it and for nap and bedtime nursing sessions he’s right with me as well relaxing. It’s gone smoother than I could have ever imagined. Of course I still need to wean him now from the belly button and will have to wean my youngest eventually when it feels right time wise since he is my last so I’m gonna cherish it differently (Like you).

    I hope you and your daughters does too!!

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