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.
While pregnant with Agent E, I read a lot of mainstream books and magazines. I hadn't yet discovered the joys of Facebook and all the wonderful information contained within, but I did receive e-mail updates weekly telling me my baby had eyelashes or reached the size of a small gerbil. Breastfeeding always seemed to get a mention. Sometimes in a very positive way, listing all the "benefits" (don't get me started) and various tips. Sometimes in a neutral way, offering it up as one equal choice of two. Sometimes simply making it sound like an awful lot of work. At the time I was decidedly non-crunchy and viewed breastfeeding as mainly a financial choice.
Then I actually had a baby and survived those early days of nursing and things began to change. Long story short, I became a Breastfeeding Momma and my whole mothering worldview shifted.
|They were both "still" nursing when this picture was taken|
I intended to wean Eva on her third birthday. I know it sounds totally arbitrary, but at the time it made perfect sense to me. Then we had the Great Spider Incident, a week-long saga in which some evil bug or spider (I'm still not 100% sure what) chomped on her leg and it swelled up ridiculously, and then she got a fever, and started puking, and ended up in urgent care on a Sunday morning (Mother's Day 2009 to be exact) and received lots of strong antibiotics for an additional two weeks. This all began the week of her birthday, so of course I couldn't stop nursing her then. I never really pushed the issue for most of the summer. (Hubby had left in February and we were just trying to survive mid-deployment insanity.) But then around the beginning of August I noticed she was only nursing for about a minute before bed, and almost never fell asleep nursing. She had long since given up napping, so we had been at the "only bedtime" stage for quite a while, but now even that seemed to be more of a cursory nod rather than a true need, or even a heartfelt want.
So we stopped. I don't remember the last time I nursed Eva. I imagine we probably sat in the rocker in our bedroom at bedtime and she nursed for 30-60 seconds before putting her down in bed and her drifting off. It may have taken a few days of "reminders" that we just snuggled at bedtime now, but no real fuss or muss of any kind.
By the time Julia came along, I had more of a clue. I had already breastfed for almost two years, including through the entire pregnancy. We had none of the difficulties Eva and I had. Julia latched on immediately and never looked back.
Julia became more of a "serious" nurser than Eva; she rarely nursed for comfort, even as a newborn, and pretty much took an all-business approach. I was actually a bit surprised when she continued showing an interest past her first birthday, yet she did. I became pregnant with her little brother when she was 21 months old, and we started the pregnancy with our nursing relationship humming along at its usual pace.
|Agent J on our trip to Germany, just after she weaned|
Part of me was sad because I really, really wanted to remember her last nursing session as positive, especially since I could barely recall Eva's. Truthfully, though, I enjoyed the "break" I had from nursing for about five months until Andrew came along.
I breastfed both of them for one year and three months. I nursed two children to sleep every night for over a year. Both girls remember nursing fondly, as I mused about in For the Love of Moe. They have watched their little brother nurse many, many times and talk about how some day they will do the same for their babies. Breastfeeding is so ho hum to them. It's just what mommies and babies do.
One final note: I have no pictures of Eva breastfeeding. More than three years, and not one photo. I have one of Julia, taken when she was about 2.5 months old. This is why I take (and post) a bazillion and one photos of Andrew nursing. If you are reading this and you are just beginning your nursing relationship, photograph it. Have someone take pictures for you at every opportunity. You won't regret it.
Have you weaned one of your own children? What did the experience look like for you?
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- 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.
- 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.