Sunday, November 25, 2012

Torn

I feel like I should be whispering this, but sometimes I'm kind of over breastfeeding my toddler.

I know all the reasons to nurse into toddlerhood. I'm all about the child taking a role in the timing and treating his wishes respectfully. But there are always two people in the breastfeeding equation.

Of course, in general I love breastfeeding and always assumed that his weaning would be a gentle, mutually desired process. (I've written about his older sisters' weanings here.)

Agent A at six weeks, right about the time we really
got the hang of things with nursing
The thing is, though, he has been really, really demanding about nursing lately and sometimes I wish he would just start to lose interest already.

Also, unlike his sisters, he is complete twiddler. He seems to reserve this habit for when he's laying down, in the middle of the night. When nursing should be easy, quick, and peaceful. And we should both be able to drift right back to sleep. Instead I end up squirming and wide awake while he takes for.ev.er. to finish. Makes me crazy!

I know some of you are thinking, well, if you don't want to, then just stop. But it's not that easy. (If it were, I wouldn't be having mixed feelings about it, now would I?) I will not make this traumatic for him. I will not simply take this away from him without warning.

Plus most of the time I still enjoy breastfeeding. That sweet affection they reserve just for you. The way they drift into sleepiness in your arms when they finish. The way they equate Momma = Milk = Love. Sigh.

These feelings are all very new for me, as by the time weaning became an issue with both Senior Agents they were down to once or twice a day and pretty much "ready" so all I had to do was provide a mild nudge of distraction. This is my first experience with considering taking specific action to help end the nursing relationship because I'm wanting to. And A is clearly not; at just over two he still nurses at least four times a day, often more. And he wakes up way more at night than the girls ever did.

Honestly, I don't even understand why I feel this way. I should be dreading the day he stops. I will never, ever get to do this again. This has been my life for over 6.5 years. Why am I not feeling more attached to it? 

Plus I keep thinking he is my last baby and he likely will wean on his own in the next six months to a year anyway, so why push it. The practical side of me thinks should at least get through this cold and flu season first, and maybe by spring he'll naturally slow down anyhow.

The most recent nursing picture I have.
This is in the airport, the day we flew back to the U.S.
Agent A is 19 months here.
To complicate matters, he has what I believe is a cavity, possibly two (don't get me started . . . another post) and we're seeing a pediatric dentist this week. Which means we may be looking at anesthesia, and dental work, and . . . why am I even considering taking his favorite source of comfort away?

As far as specifics, I know all the suggestions for how to wean a toddler (and I've shared them with others). I know all about "don't offer, don't refuse." I attempt to distract or encourage a drink of water or milk from a cup. I tell him the milk goes to sleep, too. He's not buying it.

I know, I know . . . I hear you. The reason he's not buying it is because he's not ready.

And maybe I'm not either. Truthfully, I never imagined myself here. I'm hoping there are other Mommas of nursing toddlers who can relate, and understand that it's not a matter of fear, guilt, taking charge, dependence, or any of the many other things I've heard associated with weaning an older child.

Have you purposely weaned your child? Or thought about it? Did you have conflicted feelings?

7 comments :

  1. That's a tough spot to be in! I tried and tried and stressed and cried because I really wanted to breastfeed my son. My body just wouldn't keep up. Even though I knew physically and emotionally I had to stop trying it was incredibly emotional. I was much more sad than I expectd to be. It really was an inexplicable bonding experience with my new boy that I didn't want to give up.

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    1. It definitely creates some intense feelings. I expected it to be just "feeding the baby." It's not "just" that at all. Thanks for stopping by, Tori.

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  2. Came over through SITS, and I don’t know if I can offer meaningful advice, but here goes. I weaned my first at 11 months because she was already taking so many solids and bottles while I was at the office anyway. And she was an awful biter. I just couldn’t take the pain any more. We’re only five months in with the baby, so it’s not even a question right now. Bravo to you for nursing this long! I think the worst thing you can do is stress over the whole situation. So take a deep breath and move forward one day at a time.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Leslie. Yep, one day at a time. That's pretty much where we are. Of course, now I have confirmed he will need some dental work soon, and so I really don't think I want to take this comfort from him. Maybe after that, we'll revisit weaning.

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  3. I'm right there with you. I've thought about night-weaning many times, even weaning altogether. My daughter will be 3 in March and is a nursing champion. We had a rough start and then got so good at it that I forgot to wean. She loves it, and many times I do too (for all the reasons you've mentioned)... but there are times I loathe it, too. We're working on boundaries and manners around nursing, we only nurse in private (at home or in the backseat of the car), and I do try to redirect her when I think she's really hungry or thirsty. I am glad we have nursing though for those times when she needs extra comfort. Being a toddler isn't always easy and nursing seems to make it a little easier.

    You're doing a great job, mama! :)

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  4. I was really frustrated with nursing at that age too (and the twiddling that only happens when we are co sleeping). I now almost exclusively nurse in a recliner and Hannabert is weaning.

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  5. I consider myself SO lucky that P. self weaned at 18 mo. We had such a rough start so I was ready to let her go as long as she liked, but I was kind of ready to get my boobs back by that point. Now I'm nursing Bo, who's 4 months old and a biter. OUCH. No advice here, just another mom!

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