Welcome to the 13th Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month's theme is beginnings and endings. Be sure to check out the posts at the bottom of this page for more great posts from other bloggers. My post today is about weaning.*
About 6 months after my son weaned, I overheard him talking to another child at a family party.
"I don't nurse anymore," he said. "Mama said 'not today, tomorrow is okay,' and then," he said, holding his hands in the air and shaking his head for emphasis, "I just stopped." He sounded proud and a tiny bit confused.
For us, weaning was like picking a really ripe fruit. Do you know what it's like to pick a fruit when it's not yet ripe? There's resistance, and it takes some effort or struggle. Now imagine picking the same fruit when it's ripe. It practically falls into your hand.
This is what weaning was like for me. Nursing just faded out, without protest or struggle. At some point I suggested that we nurse every other bedtime, instead of at each bedtime. That lasted for about a week, and then I guess he forgot about it, and there we were, done. He didn't notice that we'd stopped until I pointed it out to him a few weeks later.
Later, I found this quote from Dr. Sears' Baby Book:
In ancient writings, the word 'wean' meant 'to ripen" -- like a fruit nourished to readiness, it's time to leave the vine....Weaning was a joyous occasion because a weaned child was valued as a fulfilled child; a child was so filled with the basic tools of the earlier stages of development that she graduated to take on the next stage of development more independently. - The Baby Book, Sears and Sears.
It was like this with other things like sleep and potty training. We trusted that he would know when the time was right. And when we sensed it was, we gave him a tiny push in the right direction, and that was it.
This is not to say that there wasn't suffering involved, especially with regard to sleep. I was ready to be done with nursing before he was, but kept going until I felt he was ready. And there can certainly be a feeling of buyer's remorse if you do it this way. But in the end I think that the sacrifices were worth it, and I'd do it all again the same way.
Last year our preschool director sent us a newsletter with a quote I think about a lot. It said, that newborn babies are faced with the two major tasks of childhood: to establish connections with others, and to become independent individuals. It also said that most of us, sometimes unconcsiously, emphasize one over the other. For us, it has been a conscious decision to emphasize connection and to gently push our son toward independence. Weaning was one of the best examples of this.
Check out these posts by bloggers participating in this month's carnival (updated throughout the day):
- How to be a Badass Dad - The Breastfeeding Father
- Leche Baby! - Weaning a Toddler
- Mama Knows Breast - One Mom's Story of Breastfeeding Challenges
- Breastfeeding Mums - Beginnings and Endings
- Adventures of Pip and Squeak - A Complicated Relationship
- Nature Moms - Mama Knows Breast
- Crunchy Domestic Goddess - Inauspicious Breastfeeding Beginnings
- Tales of Life with a Girl on the Go - Breastfeeding Beginnings
- Breastfeeding 1-2-3 - Weaning during Pregnancy