To Wean or Not to Wean?: That is the Question

The Princess is now 18 months old, technically 18.5, and we are still nursing.  I hadn’t really planned to nurse this long.  Actually to be honest I had no plan, it seems like longer than I had anticipated though.  Update,  I started this post awhile ago, yes this tends to be a theme with me.  Princess is now 20 mths and 1 week old.  Well in a second update and attempt to bring my blog up to date…Princess is actually 28 months old!  And there are two other posts below also completed and posted today!

It is funny we are at the akward stage where we are still nursing, but I don’t really talk about it with people.  We are down to nursing only at 5 am each day and before bed.  On rare occasions we still nurse at nap time or if she isn’t feeling well, crawls into my lap and says milk milk.  When she had her surgery last month I pretty much went back to nursing her on demand, I just felt so sad for her having to go through that.

I have nursed all three of my children.   Monkey nursed until 10.5 mths at which point I guess I was about 2 months pregnant with Teddy.  I supposed either the supply or the taste of the milk change due to the pregnancy hormones and Monkey self weaned. 

Teddy was a whole other story.  Born 3 weeks early he was “lazy” to nurse at birth.  Having already had one successfully breastfed child, who according to the nurses was “a long term breastfeeder”, I received no help or support at all in my breastfeeding, just a great you know what you are doing we can go back to our desk and surf facebook type attitude.  At 1 week old he had an eye infection that caused us to be referred to a paediatrician.  She insisted he was too jaundiced and needed 2 oz of formula after each nursing…so I listened.  HEAR ME NOW: BIGGEST MISTAKE I EVER MADE.  By 2 weeks old he was hospitalized for dehydration.  He was just hanging out on the breast but not acutally sucking.  I was so stressed after a week in hospital my milk supply was in the tankers, I was missing my older son at home and I just wanted out.  I left the hospital thinking I would get him back on the breast and feeding him pumped milk in the bottle.  With 2 kids under 2 I lasted pumping exactly 9 weeks and trust me it was a struggle to get even that far.  To you mothers out there who pump for long term, good for you, you are tough.  I didn’t have the time or the energy to do it.  When Teddy was 9 weeks I managed to get an appointment with the famous Dr. Jack Newman…some good that did me.  I know most people love him, and worship the ground he walks on.  Perhaps it was my stress, that I was already feeling low.  I found him to be arrogant and rude.  Sorry, being honest here.  Instead of feeling helped by that appointment I went home, stopped pumping and switched Teddy for formula, I felt defeated.  I felt like an idiot, I felt like the worst mother in the world.  It was the worst thing I ever did.  I felt so lost with Teddy, like we missed out on a bond we were owed.  I felt like everytime I fed him a bottle of formula every other mother in the room was looking at me with disgust.  It was an awful time for me.  I had a lot of guilt and shame.  If I could go back I would have started by not listening to the paeds doc, that was where it all went downhill.

The Princess came  along, I made a bold decision (for me, a relatively mainstream kind of person, with an EXTREMELY mainstream kind of husband).  I decided to have a midwife.  I knew that midwives were generally better versed at patient involvement and better with nursing.  I was firm with the midwife, I want to nurse, I dont’ want bottles mentioned and I want help.  This baby nursing is #1 priority for me.  Princess was born and she was amazing, no struggles no tough go, she got onto nursing and right away knew what she was doing.  Our first home visit with the midwife 2 days after she was born she gained 3 oz, our second visit at 4 days she gained 7 oz!!  WHOO HOO, we were golden.  And we continued on at that rate.  I had made the decision before she was born that I would not even consider weaning until she was 1 year old.

As we approached her first year I decided we had planned a big trip to India and Thailand, I didn’t want to have to worry about her fluids, possible infection etc on this trip so I would continue nursing.  Since I was returning to work the day after we returned home, I knew this may cause some problems.  Well it really didn’t.  We came home, I returned to work, and I continued nursing!  In the mornings, if she woke up at night, when I got home from work or at her mid-day nap time on the days I was home and in the evening at bedtime.  Eventually she finally started sleeping all night, so that nursing stopped.  Then she cut out the afternoon nurse, then the morning nurse.  I would say by they time she was 20 months we were down to one nurse a day, at bedtime.  Then at 26 months she just stopped asking, a week went by, no request for milk went by, then 3 weeks went by without a request and at 1 month after not asking she asked.  I explained to her it had been so long I had no milk left.   She cried a minute, not much not heartwrenching just a little pout basically and fell asleep.  I thought WOW, this was really the way to do it.  I know that some people felt I nursed her too long, I don’t care WHO does recommend 2 years AND beyond, but a lot of people don’t follow that or respect it.  I made my decision based on what was best for me and my child. Nursing was an important bond for us and a good thing for her, I did not want to take that away from her.  I can’t honestly say that I would or wouldn’t have forced her to wean, I don’t know.  What I do know is that weaning led by her was defiinitly what was easiest for both of us.

Just this week, some 2 months after not nursing she pointed to my breasts and said milk, then she lifted my shirt, looked and said no more milk, but its ok.  And laid down and went to sleep…what a little doll!  I love her to bits!

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