Weaning and Heartache

12 Sep

Long before my son had a relationship with me, he had a relationship with a part of me that he still is obsessed with and will seemingly never want to breakup with; my boobs. Before he could recognize me with his eyes, before he could ask for them by name, they were his first love, his first familiar place, his first connection point with life as an “outside baby”. His everything.

It’s not rare that in any public place, strangers can hear him say “Booh, booh?” or “Dis? Dis?” while simultaneously watching as he shoves a hand down (or up) my shirt in the hunt for his true best friends. He doesn’t like a blanky, or lovey, or anything else… just mama and her “nursies”.

This is going to make weaning him hard.

The other night, I was researching weaning and learned about this first relationship, in a more detailed way. I learned that this will be his first true loss… His first “breakup” and that the crying involved in the weaning process isn’t so much that he’ll be pissed off that I won’t be offering him to nurse anymore, it’s that he’ll be literally mourning the loss of this relationship; the nursing relationship, and all the type of intimate bonding that has/goes with it.

That broke my heart.

My boy is already a sensitive soul. He’s in tune with his mama and doesn’t much care for independence from me (yet). Am I really ready to throw that dependence for comfort away, in the name of weaning???

What are the benefits? What are the side effects? Someone please share their weaning stories with me. I need encouragement and to know that I can do this and he won’t be scarred as a result. I mean, I know one day he’ll likely vomit if he finds this post, but for now, nursing is both of our down time, bonding time and way to be attuned to each other. After a long day at work and daycare, nursing is where we share intimate reconnection time together, holding each other and staring at each other. I take my time with him seriously, so it’s not a “sit and pay attention to something else, while taking advantage of his quietness” time, but true bonding time.

He’s 18 months old, so I know that he’s not getting his food from my body anymore, and often times, there’s no way he’s actually getting any milk, but he won’t stop anyway. Even if it’s a drop, it seems to be enough for him, and if it’s less than a drop, he’s angry about it, sad, and will beg and beg, until I can produce just one more drop to make him happy again.

Unlike most of our friend’s babies, he only recently started sleeping through the night (most nights anyway), and still wakes up incredibly early (3:00-5:00AM) just to nurse and snuggle. I’m not sure if his sleep patterns are a result of really, truly, hating being alone in his crib, or if it is because we spend so much time apart during the day, that he needs to connect as often as possible at night? Like I said, he’s a sensitive child. Not a bruiser, or a bully. He wants to be near me, even if it’s just to fake nurse… and I don’t mind.

So, if I don’t mind… why wean? Is it a “must do” before baby #2, or is it a “if you want to” thing? It is something he will decide on his own, or are there kids who don’t decide that (i.e. the annoying little prince from GOT???)?

Please share stories! I’d love to know your thoughts on the issue.

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2 Responses to “Weaning and Heartache”

  1. DC September 22, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    I had to early wean my older two. That was traumatic for all of us. Cara was 8 or 9 mos old, Aaron was only 6 mos. Heartbreaking and traumatic and I don’t recommend it. Bryan was 2 years and change. I simply stopped offering around the time he was 19 mos, but if he wanted/needed to nurse, I didn’t refuse. Slowly the number of feedings a day began to drop until one day I realized he hadn’t asked all day … then again the next. The third day he wanted to nurse, so I let him … but that was it. Never again. He never asked. He let go, he moved on, he just didn’t need it anymore. I had been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for 6 years at that point, with one 10 month break in there between weaning Cara and getting pregnant with Aaron … I was ready to be done too. I recommend taking it slowly, giving yourself time and making it gradual.

    As for a “must do” before baby #2, nope. If you’re not a high risk pregnancy, there is no reason to wean during pregnancy. It is entirely possible to even nurse 2 non twin siblings (or 3, as in the case of one of my friends) at a time. I had to wean Aaron because of a significant risk to my pregnancy with Bryan, but once I delivered, I pumped milk and gave it to him in a glass. If I could have returned him to the breast, if he had asked, I would have … but he didn’t, and I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. I knew I had supply enough to pump (I’m one of “those” lucky ones who can pump and hand express insane amounts of milk) so it wasn’t necessary. He WILL wean on his own if left to his own devices, I promise, so if your heart says to keep keepin on, then do it. If you are ready to let go, then begin, but slowly.

    You say he’s not getting his food from your body … well, not all of it, but he is still getting SOME benefit from your milk. It doesn’t just lose all nutritional value and turn to water after a magic day on the calendar. You’re still providing him with valuable nutrients that cannot be found anywhere else until you decide (or he decides) to end the nursing relationship. Remember that as in ALL relationships, it must serve both parties for it to be worthwhile. It sounds very much, though, as your nursing relationship is valuable to you still, and my position on that is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. As for night feedings, most babies who are breastfed for extended periods of time continue one nighttime feeding for a while, a year or longer. I have friends whose children continued to 4 years (I run in some pretty granola crowds … ) or slightly beyond, but that seems to be the oldest “natural” nursing relationship that I’ve personally witnessed.

    • Mrs. Arnow September 24, 2014 at 10:41 am #

      Dara, as always, thank you for the wealth of info. 🙂 I’m in the middle of “don’t offer, don’t refuse” now. He’s finally sleeping through the night (for 2 weeks!), so it’s a natural slowing down process I think… BUT, when I pick him up from daycare, I can’t put him in the carseat until after he’s nursed for as long as he wants. He literally grips onto my side with one arm and my boob with the opposite hand. My little buddy. He’s gonna take his time. xo

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