Wednesday, June 5, 2013

An Unexpected Weaning

I originally planned to breastfeed for a year if all went well.  Then I learned about child led weaning and decided to breastfeed until they graduated high school.  No, not really.  But close.  It felt like it some days, anyway.  Actually, my eldest weaned a few months after turning four, which meant that she nursed through one pregnancy and until the third trimester of the next.  I was tandem breastfeeding for over seven years, and wound up triandeming for more than two and a half years. 

And now everyone is weaned.

Happy memories
I knew that the middle two were almost done for a few months before they stopped.  They had both gone further and further between nursings.  But I didn't expect the baby to wean before she turned three.  I think I had gotten used to the pattern from pregnancy of nearly-weaning a toddler and then giving birth and having an abundant milk supply again.  The streams of milk and constant reminder of a baby sibling usually meant that the older child would resume breastfeeding again as much or more as the baby. It just seemed normal when my two year old began to slow down, but without a newborn, my supply didn't bounce back, and no one else was nursing in front of her to make her want to nurse more, too.

A few weeks ago, she got sick.  Normally if she picks up a bug, she would just nurse nonstop for 24 hours and then be fine.  This time, she couldn't figure out how to latch.  She tried a few times and then gave up. 

After more than nine years of continuous lactation, I am still adjusting a bit to not being a nursing mom anymore.  I am pretty happy about wearing regular shirts instead of nursing tops.  It was gradual enough that I avoided some of the worst of the hormone fluctuations, but I have still been experiencing much more emotional intensity than usual.  I am relieved that flu season is over, but nervous about traveling this summer without being able to nurse the baby on the plane or if she gets sick.  (Maybe much more nervous than I need to be--that whole emotional intensity thing, you know).  I have never had a two or three year old without the power to breastfeed them through illness or any other time when they needed it, and it feels a little scary, like when you are nodding off to sleep and catch yourself waking up with a jerk even though you didn't really fall.

But the key is that when they needed it.  She doesn't need it now.  She never asks for it.  She falls asleep just fine each night.  This last time when she was sick, she wanted to be in my arms the whole time but she didn't ask for leche and she is well now.  She has taken up the new habit of wanting to rub my belly all of a sudden.  I am trying to embrace it with a zen, buddha acceptance, but seriously--you never twiddled when you were actually breastfeeding and you want to start now?!

So I go back to the reasons I chose child-led weaning in the first place.  The trust in the design of our Creator, in my body, in my child.  I look at this last little baby girl of mine, growing up faster than I expected, but perfectly.  And I am thankful.   Though my breasts are no longer full, my heart still is.


Stephanie Smith said...

Ahh! All of your posts always cause me to cry. Nursing is such a beautiful thing.

Stephanie Smith said...

Awwww! Wow! Keep us posted on this new season. Thank you for sharing your journey!

Rose ASL said...

Congratulations on being done, and my sympathies as well. :) As far as planes go, at her age she will probably be just fine.