I’ve known for a while that Jack is a LOT like me. And one of the things about me is that I’m damned stubborn. There are certain things in life that I just don’t do until I’m pushed and prodded. Jack is turning out to be the same but I didn’t realize that until we started to wean.
For months I’ve been trying various tactics to sway Jack from nursing. Delays, distractions, and even outright refusals on my part. Still it didn’t look like he was going to give up nursing any time soon. Fortunately the custody arrangement Joe and I have has done a lot to help out in this process. My once crazy oversupply settled down considerably as we skipped so many nighttime nursing sessions when Jack was with his dad. One hurdle tackled! I didn’t know where to go from there, though. No matter how persistent I was with weaning tactics, he was stubbornly holding on to breastfeeding.
To give some background, I am a proponent of self-weaning. I don’t care if other moms do it that way, but that is what I believe in for myself and my child. With that said, I also believe that nursing is a relationship, one in which both participants should have a say in what happens. Breastfeeding has always been a huge challenge for me due to touch issues from my messy childhood, but it was worth it to me to ignore those issues if I could in order to give my child the healthiest start possible. Two years was my goal - I was pretty sure I could hold out that long, and I did. When we hit two years, my impatience grew exponentially. Then, a month ago, I reached the end of my rope when it became clear that Jack was no longer being settled at bedtime with nursing. He nursed, then asked for cow’s milk, then asked for water, then flailed about until he fell asleep. It was taking over an hour to get him to sleep once we got into bed and I knew this didn’t happen at his dad’s. It was clear that nursing wasn’t doing the trick it used to, and on top of that Jack started to kick and hit me during our nursing sessions. The benefits were no longer outweighing the cons for me or for Jack.
Enter David, my boyfriend. He noticed how frustrated I was getting, so he studied Jack and me in order to figure out when/why Jack was asking to nurse. He pointed out that Jack usually seemed bored or in need of comfort when he asked to nurse. Put together with the fact that I had noticed nursing wasn’t working at bedtime, I realized Jack was probably ready to stop nursing and just didn’t know there were other ways to get his needs met. With that, I decided to attempt a true weaning effort. I waited until a weekend so that if I was up all night trying to get him to sleep, I wouldn’t have to worry about working the next day. I explained to Jack that “mama’s milk is broken; there is no more” (and receiving kisses for my “owies”) and reminded him a few times when he forgot. We spent extra time snuggling and increased the number of books we read to get sleepy. It actually went very smoothly and Jack slept through the night with no problems. That was 12 days ago…
So we are done. Jack’s asked for mama’s milk maybe 2-3 times in the last two weeks and when I reminded him we no longer have mama’s milk, he wasn’t upset at all. No tantrums, no tears. Big sigh of relief from me! Now that I look back I can clearly see all the signs of his readiness for weaning. All he needed was some prodding!