Naturally Weaning Twins

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.

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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.  

Tandem nursing, age 2

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!

Goofing around on the nursing pillow, age 2

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….

Asleep in my lap after nursing, age 3.5

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Thank you for visiting the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting.

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.)

Related posts:

24 comments to Naturally Weaning Twins

  • Kym

    We did similar limits too with my son, especially switching bedtime to being done with daddy instead of mommy. The transitions were hard at first, but like you said, they needed to happen.

    I think it’s amazing you are nursing twins! I’ve only known a few people who nursed twins, and most stopped around six-seven months, so it’s really encouraging to hear! :)

  • [...] Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins. [...]

  • I love your description of just doing what felt easy, natural, foolproof. That’s how I felt about extended nursing, too. And thank you for this window into nursing twins. What a wonderful way to build the twin bond, which eases rivalry. Lovely post!

  • I really loved this post! It’s so interesting to read about your experiences, since a lot of the things you’re discussing are things I’ve never been through: nursing twins, tandem nursing, nursing a kiddo over 2. It’s so neat that your girls get to enjoy and explore each other while they nurse, and that they discuss the end of nursing together. Thank you so much for telling your story!

  • DebbieKL

    Great post! It is awesome to hear your experiences since I can relate to them so well. My 13 month old twins are almost the same age their older brother was when he weaned. At this point he only nursed 2x/day. The girls still nurse 6+ times/day & night. I’d love to drop the night time feedings but I also know it’s comforting to them. I imagine it’ll be quite awhile before they want to wean.
    I love the description of the girls playing while nursing. Very popular with my girls as well. Of course sometimes there is scratching and hitting – not always peaceful. :) Either way I’ll really miss it when we’re done.

  • tracy

    oh, kristen, thank you so much for this. you’ve always been one of my idols, as we are just about 7 or 8 months behind you (my girls will be 4, but not til early january), and we are still going strong. however, how on earth did you night wean? we co-sleep, and they still seem to want to latch on pretty much every time they shift positions during the night (and like you, one is a little more attached than the other)! :-) anyway, i love our nursing relationship, too, and wouldn’t trade it for the world, but lately i have been wondering about night-weaning, but oh lord, not a clue, not a clue…! anyway, thank you again for this lovely post and for just being “out there”…!

  • [...] Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins. [...]

  • [...] I was linked to a collection of stories on breastfeeding and weaning. Leafing through the parents’ stories of breastfeeding, weaning, and the close relationships [...]

  • [...] Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins. [...]

  • “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.” This exactly! Another author mentioned that she was glad that the end was gradual, unkonwn, because making it a special occasion would seem too sad. I agree – I am glad that for us, the ending will just be a transition.

  • [...] I was linked to a collection of stories on breastfeeding and weaning. Leafing through the parents’ stories of breastfeeding, weaning, and the close relationships they [...]

  • [...] Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins. [...]

  • [...] Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins. [...]

  • [...] 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 [...]

  • This is a wonderful post! My twin girls are 14 months old and we are still going strong. I do get a lot of questions from other people about when we will wean, and my answer is always, “when it is no longer mutually beneficial!” but so far, it is, very much so. I don’t forsee that changing, but I’m coming to realize that sometimes weaning happens when you least expect it. Thanks again!

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