My little sweeties

My little sweeties

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

On Weaning Rosemary

The other day Rosemary said to me, “Mommy, I don’t want any Mommy Milk today. I would rather work on my sticker book.”  I told her that was fine and remarked that it is so nice that she is a big girl now and can make those decisions.  Today she simply forgot all about it.  Last night I had to work and she went to bed without milk.  She is asking for milk less and less. Sometimes she makes a conscious decision to skip it, sometimes she just forgets.  I rarely offer and I rarely refuse if she asks.  At this point whether or not to nurse is primarily up to her.

  I didn't start out planning to nurse a 4 year old.  I didn't have any real goals in mind when I started nursing Rosemary.  I just knew my whole birth plan had gone to hell and something was going to go right, DAMMIT!  And it did.  We had a rocky start. She lost a bit of weight at first, my nipples were cracked and bleeding, I got thrush and mastitis and thrush again.  But, we got into a groove and by the time 6 months rolled around it wasn't something I HAD to do anymore. It wasn't an obstacle to overcome. It was some down time in the day I looked forward to.  It was time to reconnect, to take a breath.  It has been that way ever since.  I never really came across a reason NOT to nurse.  So, we just kept going.

This whole weaning process has been long and drawn out. It started when Rosemary was five and a half months old. I was eating an apple bran muffin and she took a piece of it and shoved it in her mouth and ate it. She continued to nurse largely on demand until she was two years old and I got pregnant with Ellis.  It was at that point I decided to actively start weaning her from the breast.  I cut her down from on demand nursing to nursing four times a day and those four times were just for a few minutes.  Nursing while pregnant was painful, caused some agitation and was just generally a nuisance for me.  But, for her, it was a time to connect with her excessively tired Mommy.  I worked hard to find a balance that was tolerable for both of us. I dabbled with the idea of weaning completely, but quitting cold turkey was not appealing to me at all. So I let her nurse. I set a few limits like singing one song on each side. Some days I would pick the song and some days Rosemary would pick. Once she picked the 12 Days of Christmas.  Glad that was a good day for me!! 

Once Ellis came along my reservations about continuing to nurse melted away.  If everyone was tired we all went to bed and nursed. If everyone was grouchy we sat on the couch and nursed.  When Ellis was tiny Rosemary would gently stroke his ear while they shared milk.  As he got older they would hold hands and sometimes wrestle for position.  I can’t think of a better way to have eased the transition from a family of three to a family of four. My husband and I worked out little ways to get one on one time with each child.  Bed time was the smoothest transition. My husband would bathe and dress Rosemary while I nursed Ellis and then he would bathe and dress Ellis while I nursed Rosemary and tucked her into bed.  No one missed out on any bonding time!

Now Ellis has begun his weaning process.  He didn't start as early as Rosemary.  He was seven months old before he had any interest in solid foods.  In a lot of ways his weaning has been more conventional than Rosemary’s.  There won’t be any more tiny babies to share milk with.  We are a lot busier so he doesn’t get to nurse on demand the same way she did.  But, it is still a long and drawn out process that involves give and take from both of us.  I offer to nurse him a lot and he refuses because he wants to chase his sister around!  He often bites me to let me know he is done when I am not paying enough attention to his sweet little face. It has been fun to see how different he is.  The weaning will be on his terms.

I am in the minority when it comes to the way I have chosen to feed and wean my children.  I have chosen to allow my children to have a say in the weaning process along with setting some of my own limits. I have found wonderful support through the La Leche League, online Breastfeeding groups and especially from my more conventional friends.  I have gotten some negative feedback from some friends and family and from total strangers online.  Occasionally my confidence is rattled…but then I look at my daughter and my son.  This isn’t about nursing as long as possible.  It isn’t about making a statement.  It is about taking care of MY children in a way that works for us.  When Rosemary ate that first bran muffin she took one of her first steps toward independence and she has been taking steps ever since.  The steps are getting bigger as she gets bigger.  Sometimes I offer a nudge along the way.  Sometimes I lag behind and just watch her go.  

No comments:

Post a Comment