Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning – Your Stories
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.
It’s May, which around here brings memories of birthing babies, as well as birthday celebrations (x 3!) of years past. My oldest was 6 this past Friday, my twins will be 4 nine days later. Every year I am shocked at how time flies! Where did my little babies go?
This year is particularly bittersweet, as I can tell my girls are heading down the path to weaning. Yes, I am still nursing twins, at 2 weeks shy of 4 years old. I never imagined this going into it, but here I am, and I am so glad to be here! Allowing my girls to breastfeed through toddlerhood and beyond, and wean naturally, at their own pace, has easily been one of the best experiences of parenting so far. I know that sounds strange, but it is true.
A few months back in the car, my girls had a conversation about weaning. “Elsie, when do you think you will stop having Mokie?” Delia asked out of the blue. “Will you stop having Mokie when you are four?” “I think I will stop having Mokie when I am how old Emma is” Elsie replied (meaning 5 1/2). Then, Delia offered “I’ll stop having Mokie when I am four” . “Maybe. Maybe when I am four.” Elsie chimed in again. And then they were both quiet, thinking. All three of us sat there as we drove, thinking about weaning.
Why did I not wean earlier? The simple answer: nursing was going well for us! It was an overwhelmingly positive experience, and there was just no reason, in my case, to stop. Sure, I had my moments of not wanting to nurse, but they were really quite fleeting, and thanks to setting down firm limits early on (really the start of the weaning process) and luck that it never physically became uncomfortable, I never felt pressured or overwhelmed by nursing.
Contrary to what so many people assume, nursing my toddlers and preschoolers has been a joy, not a burden. It has been the easy thing to do, not a challenge in any way! I am not a martyr, nor to I feel I am better than any other mother for nursing my kids this long. Far from it! I, frankly, chose the path of least resistance, the path that felt most comfortable for me, the path that was most rewarding. Nursing is the easiest way I have found to connect with my girls, the sure-fire way to get them to nap (even now at almost 4!), the most soothing way to heal a hurt or sick kid. Those things are all all possible without nursing, of course, but when I compare how easy it is to do them via nursing my twins, and how much more effort it takes to do those same things with my non-nursing eldest, the difference is remarkable. And I don’t think it’s just different personalities at play.
My twins progression towards weaning has been incredibly gradual, starting, in my mind, back when they were only 9-10 months old. When nursing switched from being more about food (in my mind, at least) to one about comfort, with a strong side benefit of immunity tossed in for good measure. As my girls began to get more nutrition from solid food (they took to it early, perhaps in part due to my supply issues), no longer was nursing a critical task to stress over, it was a pleasant extra. Attachment — connecting and soothing — was now the primary reason for us to nurse, and I do believe that may be far more important, in the long run, than how I fed their hungry bodies as infants.
With each passing month, and season, and year, we took more steps towards weaning, they and I. I started up with setting limits, particularly with nursing in public (something far more challenging with twins than a singleton, I must say). Then, came limits about when and how often to nurse at home — not easy, not without tears, but it was an important step for us all, and it was time. As this happened, they also learned to accept comforting and bedtime with Daddy, and eventually with other caregivers as well. At one point (well several points, haha!) I gradually pared down night nursing, and finally night weaned completely, mainly to help with frequent night-time wakings. All steps on the path to weaning, some child-led, some my call, for sure. Since this is my body, and I am the adult who knows what my kids need, I get to call the shots. I would check in with them, carefully read their needs, and would give them ample warning about what lay ahead, but in the end, the status of our nursing relationship lies with me.
Just as with any upcoming milestone (transitioning out of diapers, out of cribs), months and months (even a year?) before I expected we would hit it, I began to talk about it. Talking about what weaning is. Talking about how not all kids their age drink mama milk. How big kids do stop having mama milk as they get older, and how they get cuddles and snuggles from mama then. Laughing together at the thought of their big sister, or themselves, nursing when they were much older. Oh ho ho, funny stuff, apparently!
The fact that Elsie and Delia are twins has made these discussions about nursing and weaning fascinating, as well as incredibly sweet. They really truly have a partner in this nursing deal, one who understands the importance and the joy of it, and has been there at every step — and almost every nursing session — since birth. When they nurse, more than half the time they are gazing into each others eyes, fiddling with each others hands & clothes. There is a specific way we all cuddle up — legs and arms woven together, and I must say that it doesn’t feel quite right if there is only one kid nursing at a time. They have whole games made up, which they can play with their hands and without a word, while they are latched on nursing (though more and more, there is more chatting about the games instead of actually nursing — yet another sign that they are well on their way!).
Boy will I miss all that when we are finally through! I cannot say for sure when that will happen, but dang, it feels like it is close! Just a few months ago, soon after I had raised the issue of weaning sometime in the future, there was a phase where both Elsie and Delia were incredibly sad about missing a nursing session now and then at bedtime. Oh, the drama of no Mokie! Big tears! An upswing in requests to nurse. It was like they were clinging to the old, not ready to move towards this new thing. Now, a few months later, they really seem to have made peace with it. They do still nurse 2-3 times a day (AM waking, nap, and bedtime), though sometimes it is only once or not at all. Delia just this week has started nursing for only a few seconds, maybe a minute or two most sessions. She is starting to lose her latch. She will admit she just wants to cuddle instead of nursing, or will hop down and climb into bed if it is time to sleep. She has said she will stop nursing when she is 4, and I am thinking she may really be on target there. Elsie is still into it and will happily nurse longer — though she is also okay if we skip it some of the time. I was away for three days recently, and there was zero discussion about missing nursing while I was gone. I was not at all surprised. I am so very glad to have let them come to this final step on their own, without drama, or a sense of separation or loss. It is on their own terms, they trust I will not take this away from them before they, themselves, are ready. This feels so right.
I wonder how it will finally happen, when the time comes….? Will I know when that last tandem nursing session is? Will I be able to savor the moment, knowing it is my last time cuddling this way with my two sweet girls? Will one stop before the other? Will they continue to request it when they are hurt, or particularly sad, even after our daily nursing is done? Should we have a weaning party? How the final details shake out will be something I discover as time passes, but I can feel that our time is coming, coming soon. My sweet girls….
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 21 with all the carnival links.)
- 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.
- On the weaning of the boy in the middle — Kelly at Witness To Hope shares the lessons of a little one self-weaning at 18 months in the middle of an unexpected pregnancy, after nursing his older sister for three years.
- 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.