The Last Shed of Babyhood – Weaning Party Part II

I experienced a lot of emotions today. I felt more than I expected to feel but then again you never know what to expect when you journey through each passage from babyhood. With each breath they take and every night that passes you assist them in leaving you, in shedding any memory of their constant dependence, until one day they stand free.

Today, we celebrated a big passage for Camden. We celebrated her weaning off of the breast (at almost three years old that makes Camden and I very rare in America). It was her final hold on babyhood and she has officially let it go. We’ve lightly attempted weaning her a couple of times but she was never ready before. With her personality type I figured it may be best to go cold turkey. She doesn’t do well with dragging things out. So, Tuesday morning while we were getting ready to wake up I broached the subject like I have been for about the last 6 months. This time I could sense that she was ready. I asked her if she wanted to make this the last time we nursed and she said yes. I told her that if she wanted to be finished we could celebrate with a “weaning party” the next day.

So we had our last nursing session. I tried to memorize it. Tried to make it special. Tried to lock it deep in my heart so I would never forget. She lingered a lot longer than normal and in the end said a very dramatic good-bye to each one. It suits her, she is a very dramatic girl.

We moved forward a lot smoother than I had expected. She fell asleep in the car while doing an errand and I was able to transfer her to her bed just fine. That night she went to bed easily. She did ask for “nee nee” once but I reminded her that she was done and that we’d have her party in the morning. No tears, no protest. Wow, this might be it.

Next morning she shows up in my bedroom and hops into bed. “Can I have just oooonnneee nee nee?” she asks. “We’re all done with nee nee.” I say. “Today is your weaning party!” She smiles and says “hooray!” She looks at me with puppy dog eyes. “Just a little bit of nee nee?” I smile back, “how about some chocolate milk?” She dashes off the bed, “Ok!” Hmm, this is really working. No tears yet.

We get some breakfast and set off to make her a cake for her party. This is where I enter the point of no return. I have officially crossed over from one of those mainstream people trying to be crunchy (hippie) to someone who will never be accepted as mainstream again. I am most definitely, 100%, without a doubt, one of those people. Today, I made my daughter a cake in the shape of breasts. If it weren’t for the fact that it was my own daughter I would be shaking my own head at myself. Who does that? Well, me I guess. As long as I don’t have to smell and I can shave I guess I will consent that I am a “hippie” as my husband so adamently tries to convince me. He tries as best as he can to stay in his mainstream world and rolls his eyes at mine every now and again. Oh well, he’s coming this way whether he likes it or not. Mwha ha ha.

Yes, she is baking and babywearing at the same time. That’s my girl!

While the cake is baking and I’m cleaning up Mariah Carey is playing in the background. Camden is dancing and asks me to join her. The song “You’ll Always Be My Baby” is playing. As I’m dancing like a fool I realize that the words are amazingly representative of my current emotions and I fight back the urge to tear up as we spin out of control in the playroom. It is hard not to want to wrap up that moment and repeat it over and over.

Anyway, I finish the cake and then it is time to get Camden down for a nap. Hmm. Normally she falls asleep nursing or falls asleep in the car while I’m doing errands and then I transfer her to her bed. I don’t have time to do errands because I have to get the house clean before the party. I attempt to utilitze the bedtime routine for naptime. I read her some stories and sing her a song and tell her it is time to go to sleep. She looks at me incredulously. “I want nee nee.” Crap. Here comes the breakdown. I take a deep breath and put on a happy face. “We’re having your weaning party today!” I remind her happily. “Would you like water or Kix?” She stares at me for a minute. “I don’t want a nap.” Phew. This turned into a battle for naptime and not nursing. I was able to convince her that I would set the timer and she could come out when it went beep, beep (an old method we used to teach her how to go to sleep by herself). It worked. She was out within 15 minutes.

She woke up from her nap happy as can be and was excited for her party. We got ready to go and met a few of our friends at the local Children’s Museum. It was our first time ever going and the kids had a blast.

After the fun at the museum we headed back to our house and ate snacks and had cake. I placed 3 candles on the cake. One candle to represent each year of our nursing relationship (we are just shy of 3 years). One of my friends convinced me that the cake needed nipples. We added some hippie M&M’s (dye free). Wow. The cake reminds me of the Friends episode where Rachel has a bakery make her daughter’s first Birthday cake in the shape of a bunny with her daughter’s picture on it. Except the bakery screws up and puts her daughter’s picture on a cake in the shape of a penis. All I could think of was Joey’s line of “is it bad that I want to eat this?” LOL.

After the cake, we celebrated by painting Camden’s and my friend’s daughters fingernails. A very big girl thing to do that would solidify her passage to being a big girl. She received gifts from our friends of fingernail polish and a fairy skirt for dress up. It was a wonderful day and I am thankful that I have friends that are weird enough to want to celebrate it with us. :)

This evening Camden went to sleep without any struggles. It looks like the weaning will be official. I am both relieved and a little achy to hold onto this last stage of babyhood. It’s hard knowing that your baby is ready to move on. I do my best to know when to step aside and let her find her way. I try to trust her enough to let me know when to nudge her forward and when to grab her hand again. So far she knows herself better than I ever could and to me that means I’m doing something right.

Here is a link to our first attempt at a weaning party.

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25 comments

  1. Sonjuanja · December 1, 2012

    What a beautiful story!! What was the picture that is empty that photobucket says “this image is against our terms and conditions and has been removed”? I’m assuming it’s a nursing picture, and if so, photobucket needs a reality check…

    • journeytocrunchville · December 1, 2012

      That’s kind of funny. I had no idea the picture had been removed. It was just a picture of the cake, I believe, from a direct view. Apparently that offended someone. ;)

  2. Michelle · September 15, 2010

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story! I, too, have weaning parties. :)

  3. Rixa · May 29, 2010

    Just came across your blog, and this post, when I was reading about weaning parties! I’m an LDS mama, and we just had a weaning party today for my 3 1/2 year old. It’s hard to believe I’ve already hit this big milestone in my daughter’s life.

  4. Tamsyn · November 1, 2009

    This is such a beautiful story! I know the last comment was a year ago, but we’re having our “Hallow-weaning” party today, and this story was comforting. Even though I’m still nursing his little sister, today is an emotionally charged day for me.

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  6. Amelia · April 17, 2008

    Well, its been a bit of a journey. We had the party and it was a perfect day. Then, the next day a dear friend of mine was in my kitchen and I casually asked her when she’d stopped nursing and was so surprised when she said “he was 4”. (! gasp, I thought, I just couldn’t take it, I”m SO glad to be DONE). Although she’s a very close friend, we just had never talked about the ending point for her. And she was over because I was watching her son as her older child is in the hospital. So, somehow the next day (weaning party + 2 days, brain full of emotion of self and friends hospitalized first born) when my little guy said “Mommy please can I nurse” I just knew with all my heart that it was the right thing to do. At the time I felt like a complete failure. As soon as the party was over, I’d ordered a new (NON-nursing thank you very much) dress, my first new dress in 6 years! During these years I had even a formal floor length outfit that was a skirt and top so that I could nurse him (at age 1) at a family wedding. But no dress and there is just something nice about a dress, one thing and you’re done, no searching for s.th. to match. Anyway, my point is that I have always been extremely committed to nursing but I had just had enough and as I look back, I think I just needed a break. Why is this so hard for mothers to acknowledge and take action on?

    Anyway, I ended up sort of accidentally not telling my husband and found myself becoming one of those wives who finds herself still nursing and its sort of secret. A totally weird, unhealthy zone. Now its been a few weeks, I’ve lightened up on myself and of course I’ve told my husband and bless his heart, I love him so much but he did NOT understand. Now he does but then he did not.

    My little nursling and I have come to an agreement that its only 1/day and sometimes he skips it all together (depending on what interesting thing his older brother is doing) which is closer to where we should have been when we had the weaning party in the first place. I remember that my older son when he weaned would go 5 days without many times in a row.

    And, I’m happy to say, I wore my pretty dress anyway and didn’t punish myself when it came in the mail by waiting to wear it till we really were done nursing for good. We won’t go 4 years but we also won’t ween in a hurry when it really does happen.

    Oh, one other point of interest is that of course the younger one’s been extra needy this month and I’ve re-learned for the millionth time that when they are like this its better to be there than push back. But the other part for our family is that my older son has also been more needy (lots) so that would have been good to have prepared for, not sure how exactly or maybe just be aware of it. Finally since both my kids are October births, it might have been best to avoid all this trauma in April, their moth of disequilibrium according to Ames’ books.

    One other crazy thing I did in the weeks following the “failed” weening party was to go so far as to buy my little son a toy Thomas train b/c I felt so bad that I was trying to make him quit before he was ready. Materialism instead of being present is anathema to my parenting so looking back again I can see that I was kindof messed up.

    As I said, we’re all doing better now. Thanks for the forum. I remain shocked at how things turned out different from expected but isn’t that what parenting is all about? A great lesson that kid 2 will not be exactly like kid 1. Duh. :-)

  7. journeytocrunchville · March 25, 2008

    Amelia and Terry,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I love to hear them. It gives me hope to know that there are more parents out there that trust and sense the value of nursing their little ones into their early years. I hope that the internet will help to bring parents that are unsure of what to do the self confidence to trust their own instincts and ignore the comments and criticism that will undoubtedly come at them from general society. Amelia, it’s good to hear of your experience with your second little one as well. I am expecting a baby in August and it will be exciting to see their similarities and differences. I plan to nurse our next little one until about the same age or shorter/longer as needed.

  8. Amelia · March 25, 2008

    Your story is very close to mine. My 2.5 year old son’s weaning party is tomorrow.

    We’ve ordered the ice-cream cake from Baskin Robin’s, one other family will celebrate with us, I still need to clean the bathroom, we’ll order a pizza. It was fun to have a special chance alone with him to go and pick out the cake just as I did with our older son, 3 years ago when he weaned at the same age (2.5). Of course I got a little nervous this past weekend when little guy wanted to nurse more often than I’m used to (2-3x/day was usual but he’s also gone 24 hours without many times and skips sessions all the time and is easily distracted by among other things his big brother). I feel grateful that I’ve gone through this before because I know it will all work out. Nevertheless, I must say I appreciated finding your site as reassurance.

    I remember one of the last times my older son nursed, about a week before his weaning party. I got home from work and he nursed, as usual, then came off the breast and looked at me, smiled and said “Mommy, thank you for the breast milk.” It was so meaningful and such a heartfelt compliment, I will never forget it. It made all the erstwhile sore nipples, sleeplessness, pumping, storing etc. so worthwhile. I loved our nursing relationship and again it really helps to have gone through this before because even the morning of my older son’s weaning party, I (!) didn’t want to go through with it (he’d had a nightmare or two the week before) and it all worked out just fine. We remain exceptionally close. So, tomorrow I’ll do it for number two. I just have to find the weaning story I wrote for my older son. It was based heavily on “Maggie’s Weaning” that LLL puts out but with my words and pictures of our son. I think I’ll read it to #2 today or maybe we’ll write one for #2 of his very own.

    One other thing I should say in terms of readiness and the power of suggestion (like the above post, ours have and will be about 90% child led, 10% mommy led weaning). After I brought up the weaning party idea, a couple of times at the bedtime session (this is w/ #2), I said “there might not be any milk in there” and he tried and said “all empty”, also this kid though he loves to “sus” has almost never nursed for more than 5 minutes on each side even since he was a baby (very different from 45 min/side big brother…ah that 2nd child).

    At any rate, I’ll let you know how it went. Thank you for your site.

  9. Terry in Chicago Area · January 29, 2008

    I never had a chance to tell you how helpful this posting was to me and my family when it was time for my own daughter’s weaning party. She was 3 years and 3 months when she seemed ready to move on…it was 90% child led weaning and 10% mommy encouragement. To “Friend of a Friend”: I am sorry that you have not been able to experience the unique developmental relationship that extended nursing offers. This was a touching, honest and heartfelt posting, JtoC. Thank you for sharing it.

  10. Friend of a Friend · November 12, 2007

    WHAT THE… This was the best laugh I had all day. I nursed 4 kids until they were one, so I understand the attachment thing but HOLY COW… this was HILARIOUS and borderline CRAZY.

    • Mamamilk · June 19, 2009

      I think your response is borderline CRAZY. And many women in this country view women who parent by schedule like you as the crazy ones. You did your year for each child congratulations. And now you can say you “passed”, good for you. But human beings are NOT robots and the “recommendations” made to us by medical America are often misinformed, misguided and motivated by financial gain. I wish for you a healthy dose of skepticism which allows you to open your mind and heart to things that are different from how you do it and to question the information your are spoon fed by your doctors.

  11. Debra · October 19, 2007

    Beautiful post. My son is 15 months old, and we still nurse…a lot. Part of me wants to wean (my back hurts from night weaning, and I don’t like having him shove his head down my shirt in public), but part of me knows HE isn’t ready yet. I’m torn. A weaning party is a great idea (I’ve heard of that for graduating to a big kid bed), but I don’t know about a boob cake ;)

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  13. Beth · October 9, 2007

    Yay for attempt #2!

    Camden is getting so big – and she is definitely a woman of her own mind! I have no doubt that when she was actually ready she had no problems!

    As Morgan and I approach her 2nd bday, still nursing, it is nice to know some people who have held out “just a little longer.”

  14. Ame · October 5, 2007

    What a wonderful gift you gave your daughter! I nursed my first-born until she was 3 1/2, through one and a half pregnancies, tandem-nursing for the last 20 months of it (my second daughter loved food and I was pregnant again and irritated at that point, so she actually weaned at the same time as her big sister, lol she never looked back, it’s amazing how different siblings can be!). She’s eight now and I can’t seem to believe that it’s been 4 1/2 years since she nursed last. Heck, it’s been a few years since I nursed at all, my youngest is just shy of four and he also self-weaned before the age of 2. But now I’m pregnant again, due in a month, and full of excitement and anticipation of a new breastfeeding relationship. I wonder how different or the same this one will be? How long will it last? One thing I do know – it’ll last until he’s darn well ready to stop, “normal” society be damned. You deserve a very big pat on the back (or maybe some crunchy jewelry, lol) for the statistical anomaly you became :)

  15. Doris · October 5, 2007

    Beautiful story and I LOVE the cake! It’s funny that we call it “nee nee” too!

    I am looking forward to having a weaning party since I am currently nursing a 3 and a half year old and a 15 month old–I just hope to have as smooth of a transition as you did. Congrats! It is a bittersweet moment, I’m sure.

  16. Catharine · October 5, 2007

    What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing. I’ve been nursing for the past 10.5 yrs and have held two weaning parties during that time. They are always so bittersweet. What a gift you’ve given your daughter, to provide her with “nee-nees” until she was ready to wean. :-) Bless you both! Please tell the “big girl” congratulations from me.

    Catharine

  17. halfpintpixie · October 5, 2007

    Glad I’m not the only one all teary ready this! We’re almost at one year and going strong. I love the idea of a special weaning party and boob cake :)

  18. bubbachic.typepad · October 5, 2007

    Wonderful party wonderful post, it touched my heart – I am so glad I have found your blog!

    Dee
    x

  19. lilmama2dsndd · October 5, 2007

    What a beautiful story and a wonderful party! I was fighting back tears the entire thing, thinking of my own daughter, still nursing at 2 years and how big she has already become. Congrats to Camden and to you mama, not only for your lovingly dedication to a nursing relationship with your daughter, but also for being able to recognize when it was time to let go.

  20. zombiecakes · October 4, 2007

    Lovely post!

  21. Tanya · October 4, 2007

    wow, I teared up reading this… what an awsome idea!!!
    great things went so well!

  22. americanmum · October 4, 2007

    What a gorgeous story. I was fighting back tears the whole time. By the way, I recognize that children’s museum…I think I live where you live…

  23. Laini · October 4, 2007

    OH! What a big girl. I’m bawling over here. I am sure that is going to us in a couple of years.

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