A Weaning Party

Weaning Chart 2Camden’s Weaning Chart

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. ;-)

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12 comments

  1. Kara · September 18, 2010

    I loved this :) I have had tomorrow’s weaning party planned for a few weeks now… but I’ve downgraded it to “we’re starting the weaning process’ by going down to nursing at naptime and bedtime instead of weaning totally. She’s excited about the party but she’s been a clingy mess this week. Thanks for your lovely post. Made me relax… a little :)

    • Kayla · October 19, 2012

      That for this post! I was on here searching for weaning party ideas. My 2 1/2 year old son has successfully self weaned!!!! ( I think anyway) I became completely fine with nursing him as long as he wanted after he turned one and was still going strong , and we both loved it. I wasn’t sure how long he would go but was in for the long haul. He recently slowed down a lot and started skipping days. I have done ” don’t offer, don’t refuse” since his second birthday. Then the last week and a half he has stopped all on his own. Bitter sweet. I am proud we did it this long and did want a break before getting pregnant again, for my body, but it is something I will miss a lot. Anyway, I am giving it another week or so just to make sure he doesn’t want mamas milk any longer then will start to plan our PARTY!

  2. Autumn · August 13, 2010

    I am also throwing my 4 yr old son a weaning party in a couple of days, he has gone a whole week with out any milk! I too didn’t expect to nurse this long or through another pregnancy into tandemhood. I can’t believe the time is finally here, there were many times my skin crawled and it seemed I would be nursing him forever but he is truly ready and very excited for his party. He still loves to hold the boob, which is fine with me, and I am so fortunate that my husband was nursed past 3 yrs old himself, so I’ve always had his support and understanding. Thank you for your beautiful, honest post, the part about singing the “No more nee nee’s for you” brought me to tears…. so bittersweet.

  3. April · July 13, 2010

    My two and a half year old has been weaned for seven days now. I weaned him gradually over months. The nap-time nursing was the hardest for him to let go. He still occasionally asks for” scoobies” but no longer cries. He co-sleeps and was put to sleep at night by nursing. He only cried the first night when he could no longer nurse to sleep. I stopped the night time and morning nursings at the same time because he would nurse throughout the night and it seemed like one long nursing session. He now sleeps through the night which he never did while nursing. I have been talking to him for a long time about how soon he would not need “scoobies” because he is becoming such a big boy. I even let him pick out a big boy toy when the time came because he was being so good. He picked out a red fire truck that he is very proud of. Lots of cuddling and attention helps!

  4. journeytocrunchville · November 10, 2008

    Sandra, I’m so sorry that you and your husband are struggling in finding a balance that works for both of you. Don’t give up. In the end I do have to vote that the relationship with your husband is more paramount than nursing your daughter, since she is no longer a baby.

    I can’t tell by your post how seriously opposed he is but what worked for me is that I had researched extended breastfeeding very intensely and read a lot of books on the topic and researched other cultures, etc. When my husband brought up the topic I referred him to the World Health Organization (WHO) and they recommend nursing until AT LEAST the age of 2 and then beyond for as long as it is mutually desirable for mother and child. I advised my husband that if he was willing to read the research I’d read and then discuss the issue than I would be willing to hear out his opinion on weaning my daughter. I didn’t want the reason for his encouragement on weaning to be because of social stigma or anything like that. I wanted it to be because he truly thought it was best for our child and I felt he needed to read both sides of the story. Needless to say he never read any of the research and let it go. If it would have caused a huge strife in our marriage or been a large point of contention I would have weaned her (gently of course). Because, in my opinion, no amount of emotional health from nursing a toddler can make up for the emotional damage that a divorce will cause in a marriage. Then again if a matter like this would cause divorce there are most certainly other issues at hand.

    You mention your husbands emotional needs. There is a large possibility that your husband feels neglected and ignored and is possibly even jealous of the close relationship you have with your daughter. I would prioritize the relationship with your husband and make sure you guys are connecting and getting time alone together and then see if he eases up on the whole weaning thing.

    I would imagine that him pushing for your 2 year old to stay with family members for 3-4 days just so you won’t nurse is a huge cry from him that he is needing more attention from you.

    Obviously these are just my thoughts from a few sentences that you wrote. Remember that there are many things that can benefit our children but that children are resilient and that there is no perfect equation for raising a child. Whether you nurse for 3 days, 3 years or never you can still raise a healthy, whole and emotionally balanced child. It is the sum of many factors that contributes to these positive results, not just one. Thank goodness or I’m sure we’d all totally screw up our kids beyond recognition. :)

  5. Sandra · November 9, 2008

    Thanks so much for your writing. it moved me to tears.
    i was at nursings 4-5/day when my 2 yr old daughter is at home and she loves spending weekends with her gramma.
    my husband has withdrawn his previous support of nursing.
    i’ve read i need to understand his deeper motivation, appreciate it etc, however I still hold a higher priority on me and my daughters emotional needs that breastfeeding quenches. we had a gradual plan, but i’ve made mistakes, and he now strongly encourages long 3-4 day visits with other family members for her. tonight i’ve been up for 3 hrs and feel this is going too fast. i miss her like crazy.
    isnt there another way for my husbands emotional needs to be met another way than me weaning her??

  6. journeytocrunchville · March 25, 2008

    Corinna,

    I am so glad you found the post helpful. Yes, I completely did a 360 after having a child and I do have to laugh at myself. I think many of the people who used to know me wonder, what happened to her?

    For me it just wasn’t worth the stress. For every other matter of babyhood (co-sleeping, potty training, feeding, etc) I had followed her cues, why should breastfeeding be any different? Why should it have to be traumatic? I’m really glad I waited even though some days I thought the skin crawling would never stop. Plus, the health benefits do continue no matter what some “experts” might say. I predicted, and was accurate, that this winter would be Camden’s worst because it would be her first without nursing. It definitely was. She still fared well but definitely had the most illnesses that she’s ever had.

  7. Corinna · March 24, 2008

    Thank goodness for you…this posting was hilarious, partly because your “pre-birth” opinions, etc., echoed my husband’s and mine. I was trying to prematurely wean my child last week (he’s “only” 17 months old) and he is stressing out, which in turn is making me feel miserable…I decided this week not going to push things. It’s so nice to read personal accounts from other mothers and this really hit home to me!!!!

  8. Doris · October 5, 2007

    Sometimes I feel like the only “extended nurser” I know, so it’s nice to find other moms who are just as “crunchy” as I am.

    My son will be 4 in February and even though there are times when I am done with nursing him and ready to wean, he definitely is not.

    He only nurses at night and occasionally first thing in the morning (we all co-sleep), but I’ve mentioned weaning a few times and he just won’t go for it. Since I wholeheartedly agree with child-led weaning, I am willing to wait until he is ready.

    Like you, if I had been told when he was born that I would be still be nursing him past age 2, I would have laughed in your face–and said ewwww. Look at me now–I am nursing a 3 and a half year old AND his 15 month old sister. I am curious to see if she will nurse as long.

    I LOVE the idea of a weaning party!

  9. Shecki · October 5, 2007

    :) I’m one of “those” people, too. My nursling turned 3 last April.

  10. Pingback: The Last Shed of Babyhood - Weaning Party Part II « Journey To Crunchville
  11. Carla Moquin · July 20, 2007

    I loved this post (and your blog, which I just discovered). (: Way to trust your instincts and your daughter’s needs. It’s too bad our culture has so many issues with extended nursing–considering how, from an biological/anthropological sense, it’s perfectly normal and so good for kids from a health (immune system) standpoint…

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