Monday, May 21, 2012

On Child-led Weaning

It's no secret I've breastfed all of our children. I'll admit that I wasn't into extended breastfeeding when I was just starting out with Ian. I set my sights on reaching six months and told myself I'd reassess at that point. Six months quickly came and went and breastfeeding was all we knew how to do, so we kept going. "But we'll definitely be done at a year. I'll never go beyond that."

A year came and went and I was still nursing Ian. Not as much, for sure, but it was how he calmed to go to sleep and when he got hurt. Plus I really enjoy the mandatory snuggles.Ian weaned at about 15 months old, when I was more than half way through my pregnancy with Aaron. We were on vacation and he had been only nursing at bedtime. He would nurse a little then drink milk from a bottle, then nurse a little, then drink from the bottle... one night he just didn't nurse. I didn't force the issue and he never asked again. It was really nice.

It went the same way with Aaron. He nursed until he was 15 months old and I was already pregnant with Lauren when he ended his nursing relationship with just not doing it one night at bedtime... and it was over.

Lauren has been a little more tricky because, for one, I wasn't pregnant when she was 15 months old... I wasn't sure how I was going to wean a baby without being pregnant! While night-weaning was definitely mother-led. Weaning in general has been totally up to Lauren. We have been practicing the "don't ask, don't refuse" method and she slowly became interested in other things and got comfort from hugs and and cuddles instead of nunnies. Today, she broke my heart a little:

She was having a tantrum about something and crawled into my lap. I offered her nunnies and she pushed my shirt down and said, "NO! STOP IT! NO!"

She still comes back for a little breast check occasionally, like maybe once day, but she's essentially done. It's been totally up to her and it's been really nice. I makes me happy to know that I didn't have to do anything to get to this point either! She's done it all on her own. She's ready to be done and that's great! (REALLY great. I'll be the first to admit that I'm disenchanted with breastfeeding after nearly 5 years of it...but I do it because I believe in it.) Let's put it down in the record books... Lauren breastfed until she was one day shy of 22 months old.

Bittersweet. Weaning is bittersweet for sure.

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