Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning – Your Stories
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.
Right from day one, I set goals for my breastfeeding journey. First, I just wanted to do it. Then, six months. Then I set my sights on a year. After that, my vision for the road ahead got kind of blurry. I figured I’d keep going as long as he wanted to. As the months went by, I continued to swell with pride and milk as my baby continued to nurse…and thrive. I looked at each day as a gift, and continued to nurse my baby.
I never in a million years dreamed that we’d still be nursing more than two and a half years later.
I haven’t been able to decide if breastfeeding, both exclusively and full-term, is hard or easy. I hate to say it’s hard, because that implies to new mothers that they should anticipate a struggle. But I also hate to say that it’s easy. As the months and then years went by, nursing got harder for us. Returning to work full-time with a high-stress job and 135-mile-per-day commute started taking its toll, and now, well…for the first time, I can imagine just being done.
So I can’t help but wonder: should I wean?
I want to wean because I’m tired. I want to sleep through the night. I don’t want to have to nurse every single time my son bumps into me in the night. I want to cuddle him or hold him on my lap or read him a story without nursing. I really want to conceive another child and I am 100% certain that my cycle is still affected by breastfeeding (I didn’t even get it back until almost 20 months after birth.) I want to lose some weight (which I’m convinced my body is hanging on to in some kind of instinctual “survival mode”…) I often get touched out and annoyed and I just want my body back.
On the other hand, I do not want to wean because I know these days are short. In the grand scheme of my child’s life, he’s still a baby and the benefits are still many. Immunity, nutrition, emotional comfort…they’re all still there, still valid, even at this age (regardless of all the nay-sayers who insist the benefits stop after six months, a year, whatever.) I love nursing him (except when I don’t) and the little bit of time he still spends at the breast is a lovely way to reconnect at the end of a long work day.
As immature as it may be, I also hate the thought that I could be giving any satisfaction to the horrible, ignorant people who have accused me both to my face and behind my back of damaging my son with this “disgusting” behavior. PUH-leez. No, this is not more about me than it is about him, and no he should not be weaned when he is old enough to ask for it, blah, blah, blah. Not only is he old enough to ask for it, he’s old enough to realize he’s run me dry and try to “fill me back up” with the toy honey container from his little kitchen. He can tell me which side he wants, how he wants me to sit, and that my milk tastes like butterflies. But none of those things mean that he’s too old for optimal nutrition, optimal comfort and the knowledge that when he needs it, it’s there for him.
To those who say it’s just too weird, I say: Sure, I get that it might seem that way when you walk into my life on any random day, cold and unfamiliar with the whole nursing thing. But for me, this is the child I gave birth to and have nursed since he couldn’t even hold his own head up. Since I could hold him in the crook of my arm and nurse while I dusted or cooked. Since before he tried to nurse while standing on his head and driving a toy car up my arm.
I didn’t start out nursing an almost-3-year-old. What’s weird to you is second nature to me, and that’s what matters.
I spoke with Shari Criso about my situation, and she read me like a book. I explained, “I just feel at this point like it might actually be coming between us rather than bringing us together. How do I know when to stop?” She said “It sounds like you’re looking for permission to wean. If it’s not positive for both mother and child, it might be time to stop. It’s OK to let yourself stop and be proud of what you’ve done.”
But the few times I’ve tried to deny him milk, his poor little self looks just heartbroken – not coddled, not spoiled, not demanding, but simply heartbroken – and my mother’s intuition red flag goes up like a flash. What I did not realize when I committed to nursing long-term was that, in a way, I was giving up the right to decide on my own when the end would be. Weaning an older child who understands more, expresses more, verbalizes more, and lets his opinions, wants and needs be known more ( a lot more!) now feels like a joint decision. Denying him milk makes me feel like I’m denying him the very act of mothering, and he’s very aware of it. It doesn’t feel right. For us, it isn’t right.
So, if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I will never wean my son. Weaning will be an action on both of our parts. First from my milk, then from most of the other things I do to care for him. I will watch each one go with sadness spiked with pride as I watch him learn to fly.
That doesn’t mean I won’t nudge him. We talk a lot about how babies drink lots of milk, but big boys don’t need as much and someday Mommy’s boobies just won’t make milk anymore. We talk about all the other things we do, like snuggle and hug and blow bubbles and make cupcakes and fingerpaint. Daddy and I do a lot of distracting to try to keep him from thinking about milk – sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.
But for now, I nurse my baby. As I have through my own insecurities as a new mom, through my illnesses, through his, through hateful, venomous criticism from those who look at me like I’m a monster as well as support from a remarkable online community, through the joy of a new pregnancy and its very sad loss, through boo-boos and breakthroughs and some of the most beautiful moments of my entire life. For one more day, or maybe one hundred – I nurse my baby.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 21 with all the carnival links.)
- On Breastfeeding, Weaning, and One Mother’s Identity — Jessica at Natural Parents Network has been nursing one or more of her children since 1993 – breastfeeding is wrapped up in her concept of mothering and herself. She shares her thoughts on weaning.
- two tales of weaning — Aspen at Aspen Mama writes about their countdown to wean.
- Wean Me Gently — Tam at Please Send Parenting Books shares a beautiful weaning ceremony.
- You say potato, I say bleeeuuuuch… — Anelie at Mindcradle had read the books and knew just how to introduce her baby son to solids—unfortunately, he had other ideas.
- A Post Called Weaning — (Not) Maud at Awfully Chipper writes about how weaning her son took longer than she expected.
- On Weaning, Pregnancy and Emotion — Shannon at The Artful Mama talks about her mixed emotions as she allows her son, Little Man, to guide her through his weaning process.
- half of her life — Staci at Springpatch Jam looks back on her nursing relationship with her first born.
- Is it just this After Forty Mom or is it harder to wean when its your last? — Amanda of After Forty Mom shares her emotional journey towards the impending self-weaning of her toddler daughter.
- Nursing Limits — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she has weaned her toddler down to minimal nursing and her guilt about the decision to do so.
- Weaning Video Series #1: Preparation for the Weaning Process — Why is weaning such a taboo topic? Dionna at Code Name: Mama got mamas from across the blogosphere to start talking about weaning – on video. Come check out the first video in a series of five that she’ll be posting this week.
- On the weaning of the boy in the middle — Kelly at Witness To Hope shares the lessons of a little one self-weaning at 18 months in the middle of an unexpected pregnancy, after nursing his older sister for three years.
- Weaning due to anxiety — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about how she had to wean to preserve her mental health.
- When Will I Wean? A Guest Post — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a guest post from a mama who contemplates when her breastfeeding relationship will end.
- On His Own Terms — Momeeezen shares her heartbreak from when her son weaned much earlier than she anticipated.
- Our Weaning Story – Sudden, Surprised, and Embracing a New Season — Weaning doesn’t always go how we imagine. That Mama Gretchen shares the story of her daughter’s sudden weaning and how she has embraced this new season of motherhood.
- A Tale of Two Weanings — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares the similarities and differences of how her nursing relationships with her now six-year-old and four-year-old daughters came to a close.
- She Doesn’t Remember — Alicia at Lactation Narration finds that her 6 year old no longer remembers nursing, only one year after weaning.
- It’s The End of the World As We Know It — A story about the end of a tandem nursing relationship on Never Mind The Rain: A toddler moves on to a new phase in her life before mom is fully ready.
- A Natural End To Our Breastfeeding Relationship — With two self-weaning children, Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots does not know when the end will come, but that it will be natural and without regrets.
- Child-Led weaning: It’s Not Extreme; It’s Biological — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children explains why child-led weaning is based on biology rather than social constraints.
- 6 Years of Natural Weaning in 5 Steps — Jess at miniMum shares how and why she let her first child stop when he was good and ready.
- Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship.
- Memories of Weaning: Unique and Gentle — Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares her weaning experiences with her two sons, each one unique in how it happened and yet equally gentle in its approach.
- Weaning Aversion’ — Gentle Mama Moon shares her experience of nursing and unplanned weaning due to pregnancy-induced ‘feeding aversion’.
- Three Months Post-Mup: An Evolution of Thoughts On Weaning — cd at FidgetFace describes a brief look at her planned (but accelerated) weaning, as well as one mamma’s evolution on weaning (and extended nursing)
- Weaning my Tandem Nursed Toddler — After tandem nursing for a year, Melissa at Permission to Live felt like weaning her older child would be impossible, but now she shares how gentle weaning worked for her 2 1/2 year old.
- Every Journey Begins with One Step — As Hannabert begins the weaning process, Hannah at Hannah and Horn‘s super power is diminishing.
- Reflections on Weaning – Love Changes Form — Amy from Presence Parenting (guest posting at Dulce de Leche) shares her experience and approach of embracing weaning as a continual process in parenting, not just breastfeeding.
- Weaning Gently: Three Special Ideas for Success — MudpieMama shares three ideas that help make weaning a gentle and special journey.
- Guest Post: Carnival of Weaning — Emily shares her first weaning experience and her hopes for her second nursling in a guest post on Farmer’s Daughter.
- 12 Tips for Gentle Weaning — Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting describes the process of gentle weaning and gives specific tips to make weaning an organic, joyful ripening.
- Quiz: Should You Wean for Fertility Treatments? — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries talks about the key issues in the difficult decision to wean for infertility treatments.
- I thought about weaning… — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World shares her story of how she thought about weaning several times, yet it still happened on its own timeline.
- Celebrating Weaning — Amy at Anktangle reflects on her thoughts and feelings about weaning, and she shares a quick tutorial for one of the ways she celebrated this transition with her son: through a story book with photographs!
- Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins.
- Gentle Weaning Means Knowing When to Stop — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes about knowing when your child is not ready to wean and taking their feelings into account in the process.
- Weaning, UnWeaning, and ReWeaning — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy discovers non-mutal weaning doesn’t have to be the end. You can have a do-over.
- Prelude to weaning — Lauren at Hobo Mama talks about a tough tandem nursing period and what path she would like to encourage her older nursling to take.
- Demands of a Nursing Kind — Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares her conflicted feelings about nursing limits and explores different ways to achieve comfort, peace, and bodily integrity as a nursing mother.
- Breastfeeding: If there’s one thing I know for sure… — Wendy at ABCs and Garden Peas explores the question: How do you know when it’s time to wean?
- Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Two, Three? — Zoie at TouchstoneZ discusses going from 3 nurslings down to 1 and what might happen when her twins arrive.