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.