Weaning weenie.

October 21, 2010

I am venturing into uncharted territory.  I have been breastfeeding my son longer than I had done with my other two children, and I’m thinking it might be time to wrap it up.

First of all, a disclaimer.  While I have faithfully and gladly breastfed each of my 3 children, I am respectful of the fact that this is a very personal decision for each and every woman, and I know that there are a wide variety of reasons, all valid for each woman, to nurse for only a few months, or not at all, or well into the toddler years and beyond.

As a matter of personal taste and personal style, and an effort to keep my nipples attached to my own body, I tend to nurse my son in a private setting away from others.  I am mindful of other people’s comfort level up to a point, and, to be honest, I’m mindful of the fact that little Mr. Distractable tends to look at every single thing that moves or makes a sound while he’s nursing.  I offer the astounding length of my own nipples as evidence of the fact he will turn and look at people or objects while still powerfully attached with that little wet-vac of his, also known as his mouth.  My poor, patient husband has suffered many times under the laser beam glares of death I have projected at him because he has the audacity to move about while I’m trying to nurse his son.

Our nursing days are numbered, and I’m not entirely sure how to proceed.  It’s a strict policy of mine to bring it to an end before we have actual conversations about it, and before I think they will have any long-term memory of actually breastfeeding.  This is just me.  Call me an uptight Republican if you wish, I just think that, for boys especially, it’s just a little weird to remember cozying up to one breast while gently caressing the other… of your mother.

Recently, based on the time of day and a certain feeling of fullness I was experiencing, I thought it was a dandy time to take a break and nurse my son.  However, I clearly made the mistake of failing to consult with him first.  For one very brief moment, I had him in a kind of head lock-type grip, trying to coerce him into nursing and he wasn’t having any of it.  I finally laughed and released him, and he toddled off to go back to playing.  I imagined the conversation we might have been having:  “Nurse, dammit!”  “No, I don’t want to!”  “I said NURSE!”  “No, you can’t make me!”  Etc.

By now, you would think I would know better.  3 children.  3 completely different schedules.  3 very different personalities.  (All quite strong, though, go figure.)  I should know that these beautiful children do things on their own time schedule, when their own personal DNA flips the requisite switch and then it’s time to tackle the next milestone.  Natalie talked at 9 months (and has never stopped) but didn’t walk until she was 14 months old.  Max walked at 10 months but didn’t talk until he was almost 2.  Timothy uses a spoon better than his older brother.  And so on.  And on, and on, and on.

I’m not in charge, even though if you dropped by (at your own peril) some morning and witnessed my attempts to get 3 short people dressed and out the door by 7:15 am, you would think I am certainly trying to be.

I breastfed my daughter until she was 17 1/2 months old.  April 17, 2005 was the last day.  The next day, she fell asleep in my arms without nursing, much earlier than she had up until that point and I thought, “oh, so I’ve been keeping you up?”

Max nursed for the last time on Jan. 1st, 2008.  The next day, he looked at me like I was crazy for sticking that thing in his face and never nursed again.  He was 11 months old.

Timothy is 17 months old.  He’s not ready to quit, but clearly he wants me to breastfeed him only when he wants it.  It may be just for a few minutes, and he sits up, waves “bye-bye” to my breast, slides off my lap, and grabs a toy on his way back out of his room.

I’m not in charge.  I’m here for these kids when they need me, either for milk or a hug or a bandage or a story.  And when they start walking farther away and climbing higher and going for longer stretches of time without me, I need to remember that this is, after all the point.  If I do this “mom thing” right, they can tackle this world without me hovering over them.

But for now, I’ll still cuddle my baby close when he does want me, hold him a few minutes longer than necessary when he does drift off to sleep in my arms, looking more like a baby at that point than he does the rest of the day, and try to keep the memory of these chubby cheeks and belly full of milk close in my heart, because when I’m an old lady these are memories that I get to have all to myself.

It’s hard to let go, and it’s hard to hold on.  But any mom will tell you that.



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