A Weaning Party? What the heck is a weaning party? I tried not to turn too many shades of red as the parent of one of the children I watch asked this question when picking up her child. I had forgotten that others might see “our” chart.
Had you told me 3 years ago that I would nurse my two year old I quite probably would have laughed in your face. Ewwww, I would have thought. If they can ask for it they are too old! In fact my husband and I had talked about that a few times before our daughter was born and we both agreed that if they can ask for it then they are too old to be nursing.
Enter in Camden. The child who would prove me wrong and make me question just about everything I had assumed about child raising. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed so that wasn’t a problem. I was breastfed myself for a year and so I was determined to do so for my own daughter. We made it through a lot of initial challenges with engorgement and a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance and the use of nipple shields since my daughter couldn’t get an adequate latch in the beginning. I rocked and rolled through those and didn’t consider switching once because of them.
As my daughter got older I started to hear about “extended nursing” and gave it some thought. I bought a book called Mothering Your Nursing Toddler and it opened my eyes and heart to the idea of nursing her until she was ready to be weaned. It settled some fears about creating a child that was too demanding and reassured me that she would eventually wean and that it wouldn’t have to be a traumatic experience for either of us. I looked at my 11 month old daughter and couldn’t imagine her being ready to wean in a month. She still nursed pretty much every 2-3 hours and didn’t eat much table food. Also, we surpassed that whole asking for it rule when she turned 9 months. She very clearly could sign “nurse”. Hmmm, we thought. Well, when she can actually ask for it in a whole sentence then that is just too old. We entered this new rule into our mental bank.
Nursing during her second year of life was pretty easy and I wasn’t too afraid to admit our nursing relationship. Around 18 months I stopped nursing her in public but I wasn’t embarassed about the fact that I nursed her. Also during this time our daughter became extremely verbal speaking in complete sentences. She is just ahead of her time, we’d think. So we kind of pushed the whole “asking in a whole sentence” rule aside.
Then she turned 2. I started to lose my bravado about nursing. This was definitely uncharted territory for me. I couldn’t quote the W.H.O. (World Health Organization) with as much power since they simply say to nurse until at least the age of 2 and then thereafter as long as mutually desirable. The quote still works of course but now I am past the “at least” part. Now I am one of those people. I didn’t really want to be one of those people. My husband would pop in every now and again with the typical “you’re going to wean her soon, right” “but she’s almost done, right?”. Oh well, he does his best to be supportive.
My daughter is now 2 1/2. She is potty trained, she sleeps by herself in her own room and she now sleeps through the night. She can dress herself, she can feed herself she can even brush her own teeth. But she still nurses. It is the last bit of babyhood that she has. Last month I figured she was ready to let it go. I certainly was ready. My skin crawled sometimes having to sit and nurse her and I didn’t want my attitude to effect our relationship.
I decided I would do something very unspeakable and very, very “hippie” as my husband would say. I would throw her a “weaning party”. A party complete with cupcakes, balloons and a birthday song sung to the words of “No more nee nee’s for you, no more nee nee’s for you. No more nee nee’s for Camden. No more nee nee’s for you.” I then made her a chart that would help her countdown to her party and also help her visually see how many times she had left to nurse. She was down to nursing 2-3 times a day. I decided 10 more times was enough warning and then we would have the party.
She was super duper excited at first and seemed to understand the concept really well. I took these pictures of her in front of her chart on the first day. She loved taking the balloons down and counting how many more times she could have “nee nee” before her party. Then over the next couple days I watched a strange transformation. My daughter stopped sleeping well. She would wake up crying in the middle of the night and when I went in to see her I wasn’t able to comfort her.
She started becoming clingy during the day and started demanding to nurse a lot more than usual. As the day before the party approached I could see that she truly wasn’t ready. Our relationship had detiorated over the last few days and I could see that she was stressed about the impending change but wasn’t able to verbalize it to me (she hadn’t once brought it up that she didn’t want to stop nursing). So I decided to just ask her. I told her that I had noticed that she’d been upset lately and not sleeping well. I asked her if she wanted to keep on having nee nee and have the weaning party another time. She was relieved and said that she wanted to keep on having nee nee – though she still wanted the party – LOL.
In the end I decided to put off weaning her for now. I hadn’t put forth all of this long hard effort of nursing her and creating this relationship just to have it end by me traumatically imposing a stopping time for her. There was no impending reason we had to stop. No medical excuse, no pained nipples from pregnancy – only my lack of patience to allow my daughter to grow into a child at her own pace. I decided to set a limit on the nursing to help me deal with it better and we decided to try and limit nursing sessions to before nap and bedtime.
So maybe my daughter can ask to nurse in a complete sentence, or a completel paragraph for that matter. Maybe she is the oldest nursing child that I know (in real life). Maybe she does choose what “side” she wants first and has actually named my breasts. Maybe I am one of those people. But I’ve decided I don’t want the world to raise my daughter. Heavenly Father has delegated that role to me and I’m confident in his confidence in me. Besides, she won’t be too old to nurse until she can ask for it by writing it in a complete sentence. ;-)