Monday, April 23, 2007

Weaning

This is probably more than you want to know, but I feel like sharing.

I have been lucky enough to be able to breastfeed my daughter. I decided before she was born that it was just going to work. I wasn't going to read anything about bottle feeding or formula or supplementation.

Breastfeeding was really difficult in the beginning. I would say that it took a good 8-10 weeks for it to be a comfortable thing for me. There was cracking and bleeding and then a period of pain only on latch that lasted for several weeks and then went away. From the beginning I talked about doing child led weaning. I wanted this to be a journey for the both us, and something that I could give her for as long as she needed and wanted it.

Then January of this year came and I felt so done. We were only nursing at night before bed. It had been like that for at least a year. I felt antsy and uncomfortable. Then the daycare she was in said they were going to close and I had to decide what to do. I quit my job at the end of January, and we continued nursing because of the tumult in our lives. I was fine. I began to be comfortable again, but at the beginning of this month I had that strong I'm done feeling again.

I talked to Fiona and told her that I felt that my body was almost done making mama's milk and that she was such a big girl that I thought it was time for us to be done. We talked about how I could rub her back to help her fall asleep. I suggested we celebrate her being such a big girl. She said she wanted a party with cake, apples and Pirate's Booty and that she wanted to invite all of the moms, dads, kids and babies (our group of friends). So I chose last Saturday as the day for the party. We invited our friends and some family. For the week before the party, every night as we went to bed I reminded her that after Friday night we weren't going to have mama's milk anymore and that I would rub her back. Friday night came. She nursed briefly on both sides and said, "I'm all done. Would you rub my back mama?" She went right to sleep. That night when I got into bed I cried. I even thought briefly that I didn't need to follow through, but there was a very strong voice in me that said "Oh, yes, we are done."

Saturday came and we had a great party. We ate yummy food and had lemon cupcakes with whipped cream frosting. There was lots of talking, laughing and playing. There was almost no mention of what the party was for. Fiona's grandma brought her a beautiful paper crown that said "The Queen" on the front. She had a great time.

That night as we were reading bedtime stories I reminded her that we weren't having mama's milk anymore. She said, "That's right and you are going to rub my back to help me go to sleep." That is just what we did.

Sunday we went out to breakfast and she was wearing her crown. Someone asked if it was her birthday. She didn't understand that they were asking because of the crown. I said no, that she had had a weaning party yesterday. I was nervous. I know the average person in our society doesn't advocate extended nursing, but this woman seemed genuine in her congratulations.

Fiona asked at bedtime if she could have mama's milk. I said, "Nope, but I can rub your back and if your thirsty you have your sippy." She was fine with that.

Tonight she fell asleep in the car on the way home. When I got her into bed, she just rolled over and said, "Mama, would you start rubbing my back."

Weaning has worked, I guess. It hasn't been traumatic. There have been no tears shed on her part. I wanted her to be in control, but it takes two to nurse. I think we have done ok. I'm proud that I was able to give her what I did for so long. I'm proud of who she is and of who she will become. She's my strong girl, and I love her so much.

5 comments:

jackie said...

I breast fed all of my kids. I thought that I would do child led weaning too. I couldn't do it. At about 18 months I found myself getting angry with my eldest when she wanted to nurse. After deciding the lesser of two evils was weaning, that is what we did. She did fine, too. As did my twins about three years later (I made it to about the same age with them) With my last, I actually wasn't quite ready to wean when we finished nursing. I had to go away for a week when she was about 17 months old and that was that. Although when I can back, she had started to suck her thumb. Still does. I think that it is great that you were able to continue that bond for so long!

Caro said...

How old is she?

I love your party idea.

My son is still nursing at 4, but being autistic he's a bit harder to reason with.

I am ready to be done, but also sad about it. He's the last baby.

craftydabbler said...

Thank you both for commenting on this post.

Jackie - Nursing four children, let alone twins is an incredible feat. It's funny you mentioned your last sucking her thumb. I've noticed Fiona suck her thumb a couple of times or want to hold on to a blanket like it's a lovely, but she has never done those things before. I think she is just trying to work it all out.

Caro - Fiona is 3 years and 8 months. It was almost three weeks from the time I first talked to Fiona about weaning to when the party was scheduled. Maybe drawing it out like that would be helpful to your son.

Reasoning with an autistic child can be difficult. My nephew is autistic.

I still feel a little silly that I'm the one who cried and she hasn't. I even mentioned to her the other night that it makes me a little sad that we are done, but it amazes me too that she is such a big girl. She didn't say anything.

Caro said...

Crafty, I wouldn't feel silly for crying. It's another part of childhood passing and it goes so fast. I'm always sad afer weaning.

Devan said...

That was a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.
I'm so glad the weaning was peaceful and easy, even if it was a little tough emotionally. :)