Monday, November 22, 2010

a post about weaning and breastfeeding (fair warning)

I feel conflicted.
Happy, and yet sad at the very same time - you might almost say the feeling is bittersweet.
Today, for the first time ever, my toddler did not ask to nurse upon waking.

"what's the big deal?" you say. "He's 18 months old for heavens' sake, you're practically nursing a preschooler." you say. Well, you see, that's the crux of my issue today. He IS eighteen months old (next week). And this IS normal and natural weaning behavior. But I have some serious decisions to make.

Ever since we (Levi and I) finally got nursing figured out - finally nursed exclusively at 4 months - finally adjusted to intolerances - ever since then I've nursed him on demand. Meaning, any time he asks. Why? because I could. I spent 4 months feeling like I couldn't, and now I CAN. Along with that came my decision to follow a plan of "child lead weaning", meaning allowing Levi to cut me off, versus the other way around. And I was, and still am, fine with that plan. But as I am coming to find out it is not all that cut and dry. I have to make some decisions, I have to decide where to draw the line. I have to (as my mother would say) "Make my choice, and love my choice", because once I make it, I have to stick with it.

What choice is there to make? Well, in simple terms I need to decide whether or not, if he "forgets" to nurse at a regular nursing time, I am going to nurse him, say, an hour later when he remembers or gets bored. That may sound like an easily answered question - but I'm vexed.

If I choose to nurse him whenever he likes (i.e., on demand), I'm most certainly following my "plan", so to speak, of child led weaning. At the same time though I wonder if I should limit nursing to a specific place, and/or specific times. If I do set boundaries he is almost sure to completely wean in a matter of months - and I'm just not sure I'm ready for that.

Oh, I think I'd be ready for it if HE initiated his own weaning. I think I'd be ready for it if HE (without my having to set boundaries, or having to refuse him, or having to redirect him as I did this morning as we were leaving the house and he REMEMBERED he hadn't nursed) decided he was done. But for me to step in and push him away? I just don't know if I can...

Nursing my toddler to a state of almost-sleep each night, watching his heavy eyelids droop closed in my arms - it's the most precious thing in the world. I find it absolutely adoring that knows when to unlatch and ask for the "other side"(in words that sound more like "uh-sigh") - and to actively keep it from him would be very very hard for this mommy - indeed, very difficult.

...and yet there are times where I'm SO DONE. There are times where my toddler is cranky and snarky, and bored, hanging on my ankle (when I OBVIOUSLY need to get some work done!) looking up at me and crying "MUH???" (which means milk). And all I want is for ME not to be the only thing he wants at that VERY moment. Sheesh!

So, which feeling is stronger? That's the question of the day. Do I draw a line, and if so, where? Do I set boundaries, and if so, where?

No, this is not one of those posts where I eventually come to a conclusion. In case you were waiting for that. Sorry. Stay tuned. And leave your thoughts.


Shelle and Dan said...

Sigh. Indeed, that is a dilema. No real advice or words of wisdom here. For me, breastfeeding and the subsequent pumping-on-a-schedule when I went back to work was always difficult. I set a goal of hanging on for a year and happily weaned at that one-year mark. The baby didn't protest too much and transitioned to cow's milk easily, so me deciding to stop ended up working fin for us. Good luck in whatever direction you decide to go.

Chelsie Hardy said...

Interesting...I have never before heard your plan for nursing/weaning (although, as you stated, there really is no plan right now ;)) even though I knew you are still nursing Levi. 'Still' because 'most' people I know wean at 1 year. If you want an opinion....if it were me, that is...I would set boundaries as to when and where he could nurse. This may be only for your convenience and/or to avoid confusion for Levi. Neither of you may enjoy nursing if you're frustrated with him for asking (read: whining, begging) when you "clearly have stuff to do". :) In case what I have said comes across in a certain way that may be offensive, let me be clear that that is not my intention and that I have no opinion on extended breastfeeding. It certainly has health benefits beyond a year, every mama's entitled to her own choice, and the reason I didn't nurse longer was probably only for my convenience. I can understand wanting to nurse longer than average, especially if it was hard at first. Good luck, Melissa! Let's talk soon!