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.
Weaning didn't go quite how I expected.
In my perfect world I imagined tandem nursing Jemma along side her younger sibling, reading Nursies When the Sunshines together, and hearing her say that mama milk tasted like flowers.
I always intended to allow child-led weaning, our nursing relationship had been like that from the beginning. She set the time and length of our nursing sessions. I just delivered the goods. Giving Jemma control in deciding when and where she wanted to nurse built a lovely bond between the two of us. She relied on me, and in a way, I on her. Because let's face it, engorgement is never a pretty thing.
Shortly after Jemma's first birthday, October 20th to be exact, Jemma went an entire day without nursing. Between 10-12 months she had truly discovered table food and was in love with everything she tried. I assumed she was just having an off day and would be back to her nursing routine in no time. Then again, I partly blamed myself for her nursing strike day because that morning she had bit me. I had yelped which resulted in her crying :( Part of me feared that she was scared to nurse again because of me. The evening of the 20th, as she was falling asleep, she nursed. And I let out a sigh of relief. My baby was still my baby.
But that night was the last. It still makes me cry to think about it. At 12 1/2 months Jemma's nursing strike turned into fully weaning. It was MUCH earlier than I expected, but more sudden, and it broke my heart to so quickly say goodbye to this dimension of our relationship.
For a month we tried many things to reconcile our nursing relationship. I blogged about it here, here, and here. Jemma was quite indifferent to the transition. It was almost like she woke up one day and said, "Mama, I'm a big girl and I'm ready for 100% big girl food." I wasn't quite as ready as she was! I mourned the loss her sudden weaning. I received amazing support from my La Leche League leader and slowly, but surely, came to grips with a new season of our mother daughter relationship.
It is an emotional roller coaster when our little ones have different plans than we do! Your loving response to her ever-changing needs is just proof of your healthy attachment and love.
-An email from my wonderful LLL leader
Although Jemma had weaned, I felt she was too young to be completely without the benefits of breastmilk. So, I unearthed my trusty pump, the same one I had packed away 6 weeks earlier when I became a SAHM and thought my pumping days were over. It pained me to have Jemma accept my pumped milk in a sippy cup, but it was the lesser of two evils. First I pumped four times each day, then three, then two. This allowed her to have breastmilk each day (with some surplus for the freezer) while we started to integrate alternative milk like coconut, almond, and hemp.
By late December pumping became oddly painful. Two pink lines on a pregnancy test proved the reason why :) At that point I chose to wean myself from my pump. Not the weaning experience I had imagined, but it felt right to stop pumping and allow my body to fully commit to nurturing the new life inside of me. My freezer was brimming with bags of milk so Jemma has continued to have mama milk every night before bed. Coincidentally, she just finished her final bag of mama milk on Mother's Day at 19 months old.
Our relationship hasn't suffered as I feared. If anything Jemma and I have grown closer as we've found new ways to connect throughout the day. I've been blessed by this new season and can't wait for the many seasons we'll weather together in the years to come.
And yet, I can't wait to begin breastfeeding my new baby in August. Perhaps he'll be the one who tandem nurses with a sibling, reads Nursies, and describes mama milk as flowers ... or whatever he deems to be his most favorite thing :)
P.S. I also shared a short video clip in Code Name: Mama's weaning post ... check it out!
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):
- 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.
- 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.