Look what I got in the mail this week… I know, right? I never thought I’d need it. Especially with my kids spaced more than 3 years apart. I have to admit, the thought of nursing both of them – at the same time – is a little daunting. When I started nursing, I’d never even known a nursing mom, so I really am in uncharted territory with this whole thing. The only thing I know for sure is that I committed to a full-term run with my boy, and that run is still going pretty strong.
Weaning is a funny thing. I often hear people talk about it as a “thing you do.” Like “How did you wean your 1-year-old?” And I thought that was how it would be for us. But, as it turns out, weaning has been a process so slow and evolutionary that I rarely even know what part of the process we may be in. It starts the day you offer that first bite of food, and it lasts until you or your baby makes the decision to be done (which in our case, doesn’t seem to be happening just yet.)
Conclusion: I’m just along for the ride, facilitating things the best I can as we go.
So, even though I’m not an expert or a counselor or anything like that, I’d like to offer up some of the things that are working for us as we get ready to embark on our very own Adventure in Tandem Nursing:
- We set rules. Just because I am letting him self-wean doesn’t mean he’s running the show. I feel like it’s really important to establish boundaries with Mommy’s body, and he’s catching on. There is no twiddling allowed, no wiggling or pulling to turn and look at the TV, and I insist on a wide latch because it’s less painful (“Open big, honey.”) When things are especially uncomfortable for me, as they often are at 35 weeks pregnant, I tell him “Mommy’s going to count now…” and I slowly count to 10. Sometimes I get a struggle, but usually he rolls over and says, “I drank 10 drinks! Now beetect me, Mommy.”
- We look for replacements. Beetect? Yeah, I should probably explain that one. It simply means that he wants me to put my arm around him to sleep. It took me forever to figure out that it means “protect me.” I find it incredibly sweet. There aren’t too many times when I feel very important in this life, but when my son feels protected by me? Yeah, that’s pretty fantastic. Some other effective replacements we’ve found: letting him rest his head on my breast, scratching his back, and (current favorite) putting “bellies together.” He loves that. I guess it’s the skin-to-skin thing he learned at such a young age. Although right now, when we lay down with our bare bellies touching, he often gets a good swift kick!
- I smile. How does it feel to nurse a toddler or preschooler at 10 weeks, 20 weeks, 30 weeks pregnant? NOT fun. NOT comfortable. Sometimes, it’s downright awful. The pain can get pretty bad, and the sheer irritation can be the most annoying thing you’ve ever felt. I’ve had a lot of people simply say,”Then why don’t you just stop?” Well, the answer is easy. Anything worth doing is worth doing even when it’s not easy. (Marriage, you “work through” when it’s hard, and everyone applauds. Nursing? Meh, just wean. I don’t get it.) So, we keep on keepin’ on, but I try to make a conscious effort to look down and smile at my boy frequently throughout our short nursing sessions. Early on in this pregnancy I realized that I often had a grimace on my face when I was uncomfortable, and he really had nothing else to look at. Imagine nursing for comfort while looking up at your Mommy’s face, all frowny and unhappy? Not good. So every time I think of it, I look down and smile. And I get a big, squinty eyed smile back in return.
- We know that this is a season. As are all things with children. Nothing lasts long, and as soon as you get it figured out, there something new to knock your confidence. I honestly have no idea what the right way to wean might be if I wanted to, but I do know that denying him what has been his main source of nutrition and comfort since birth feels wrong and makes him inconsolably sad, so I won’t do it unless I have a really good reason. There will come a day, not too far off, when my son will tell me that he doesn’t need milk anymore and he’ll turn over his “milt” to his baby sister for good. (I can’t imagine it now, but I know it’s coming…)
I’ll be devastated, for sure. But as long as he does it when he’s ready, I’ll be ready, too.
Book review coming soon!