The Weaning Dilemma

>> Friday, April 30, 2010

Caden will be two in August. It hardly seems possible that that could be true. It seems like we just had his 1st birthday party where a friend's son pulled the fire alarm and we had the greatest ending to a toddler birthday party ever with firetrucks and firefighters all around. And even closer seems last fall when Hubby and I escaped for a few days to see my beloved Gators and spend a few days on the beach for our 10th wedding anniversary. I was so worried that my time away back then would be the end of nursing for Caden. But to my delight, my milk supply seemed to keep up and he just picked right back up without skipping a beat.

Well, now I find myself in a different spot. He has no intention of being done with his "dursies" and mommy is pretty much ready to be done. He would nurse several times a day if I let him. He definitely nurses when he first wakes up (which is around 5am-Yuck!!) and before his nap if I put him down at home and then before bed. The thing is, he doesn't really fall asleep nursing anymore. He sits there, latched on, just kinda sitting there. He gets mad when I pull him off and cries "Other side, mama, PEAS!!!!" I am not even sure he is getting much more than a trickle of milk except in the morning when there is more there. And when he wants "dursies" in the morning, I can tell that he is legitimately hungry or thirsty since he is going thorough that toddler "I won't eat dinner" phase. The other complicating factor is that he won't drink milk. Not even almond milk. He spits it out. So does he still need whatever milk is there to get the fat for his brain development and all the wonderful other stuff he gets from breastmilk?

So now the dilemma becomes this... is it time to stop? I want to stop, I am ready to stop. But he doesn't seem to be. And I don't want weaning to be a traumatic thing for either of us. I am very much in favor of child-led weaning. Except that I am not sure it would ever be his idea to stop. It was such a natural process for Lucas and it was around this age, just shy of two. I know pro-nursing moms who have already stopped by this age and I know lots of moms who have nursed far past Caden's age.
He is my last baby, Lord- willing. And I don't want him to grow up too fast. But the other issue is that I have been having a little health issue with lots of joint pain and extreme fatigue and some possible auto-immune involvement. I am trying to de-stress and de-clutter my life even more to see if I can get a handle on this joint stuff before trying more pharmacological routes. And this whole nursing issue with Caden is stressing me out both physically and

Just writing this all out, it seems as if I have my answer. It is time to wean. But then you add in the emotional component and I am again not sure. Do I hold on a bit longer since the final nursing with Caden will probably be the final forever? Do I let him be the baby a little longer and give him his "dursies" which do seem to comfort him even if they are not filling his belly?

I am pretty sure I want to be done by the time he turns 2. But maybe sooner.... I just don't know.

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TwoSquareMeals April 30, 2010 at 6:27 PM  

This is such an individual question! Calvin weaned himself at 14 months, which was sad for me because I didn't know it was his last time until after the fact. I had to wean Hobbes at 14 months because we were going to England a month later and leaving him for a week. He wasn't really ready, but I haven't seen any negative long term effects. I just weaned him gradually. Linus is still hanging on to two times a day at 16 months, and he shows no signs of giving up soon. Since I am ready to be done, I am going to slowly wean him, dropping a feeding now and then and distracting with a snack and some cuddle time.

I think it all depends on how you feel about it. If weaning right now would make you a better mommy overall, then don't let anyone tell you that child-led weaning is the only way to go. All sorts of kids end up fine with all sorts of breastfeeding experiences and even with a lack of it altogether. There is no best way other than just loving your baby and doing what you need to do to be in a good physical and mental state to parent him over the long haul.

He will be fine if you stop because he is getting love and attention from you in so many other ways. Don't feel guilty if you are ready to wean, but don't wean if you aren't ready, either.

Helpful, I know :)

Anonymous May 2, 2010 at 10:05 AM  

Nice blog you got here... Just droppin' by to say hi!

Atwood-Family of 4 May 3, 2010 at 7:17 AM  

It's definitely a hard choice! With Anne she weaned herself, waaaay before I wanted and I mourned that for a year! Jamie is 14 months and still nursing but sometimes he doesn't seem interested at all. The past 3 or 4 days we've dropped the night time nursing because he just wasn't interested and subbed in a cup of my milk mixed w/ some chocolate syrup (Ok, SERIOUSLY! my kids will not drink ANY milk unless it's from me! OR if it has chocolate in it-so i'm not gonna throw away good breastmilk. Still hilarious that it have to mix it w/ chocolate syrup!). He still does his morning nursing and seems to like it. That's our only one that's regular. The other day he wanted to nurse mid-day which is very unusual. So I think we are very gradually on the road to being done.

If you are getting frustrated and antsy about it, it's time. You don't want to have negative feelings towards him or the nursing relationship. Perhaps chocolate milk is YOUR new key to success! Good luck!

Katharos May 3, 2010 at 8:04 AM  

Sweet friend, I feel for you guys! I weaned Katherine at 2 due to outside pressure (had already miscarried and was then pregnant with Jack) and it was painful for both of us emotionally. I really think it affected our relationship for a while.

With that in mind I was extremely nervous about weaning Jack. When I got pregnant this time around, I was so sick and started having symptoms that scared me (thinking back to my previous miscarriage) so ended up weaning Jack sooner and more abruptly than I wanted. He hasn't seemed to care a bit! The first few days were a little stressful for me because he was still falling asleep nursing, but after that he has been great.

He has become such a snuggler with me and has developed some habits that I would relate to a nursing relationship (when he is tired or upset he wants to nuzzle his little face against my neck near my pulse and he prefers to fall asleep either with his face there or at least his hand over my pulse point).

As for the milk thing - he won't drink cows milk. Maybe a sip here or there. I try to limit sweets so chocolate milk is a rare treat for Katherine which makes trying that route with Jack difficult since she has such an eagle eye when it comes to making sure little brother doesn't get anything she doesn't have!

Our pediatrician just said to make sure he is getting a multivitamin and eating cheese and yogurt for the fat/calcium.

My husband still doesn't really understand the emotional component to nursing - something really hard to explain. That makes weaning so hard for me, but it sounds like you have some mommy health and wellness issues that weigh in.

Do what you are comfortable with. Caden will continue to be the amazing little man he is - you have given him such a great foundation!

Melinda May 4, 2010 at 10:38 AM  

I can only share my own experience with child-led weaning. I took that route with Aspen, and she nursed well past age 4, when I finally had no choice but to wean her when Abby was a few months old because tandem nursing was just too hard and I was stressed out. I went the cold turley route because gradual wasn't working at all. It was a tough thing for both of us but I was really beginning to resent her nursing and that was no good. I so regretted not weaning her sooner because here I was taking it away from her but still nursing Abby and I know that she was upset by that. After that whole experience, I plan to cut back on nursing Abby at a year and definitely to wean her before age 2. I think a lot of Moms nurse past when they are really ready to stop because of guilt and the emotional connection, but for me, I was a much better Mommy afterward.

Any way you slice it, it's tough. I'll be praying about this for you. You're such a terrific Mom, and your boys are so loved. I'm sure this will work out fine for you.


PS I sure do miss you at my blog!

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