Monday, May 21, 2012

Weaning, UnWeaning, and ReWeaning

Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning - Your Stories
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.

I always knew I would breastfeed. Not that I would try: that I would. You know, Do or Do Not style. I was able to establish breastfeeding in the 8 short weeks I was able to take off of work after my c-section (one good reason for it: in our abysmal state of maternity leave vaginal birth moms got 6 weeks, c-section moms got 8) and then return to my job full time and pump enough we never needed a single bottle of formula. When I realized I hated leaving my son for 10 hours a day, I left my retail job for one I could take him with me. My plan was to breastfeed him as long as we both wanted to.

I wrote how his weaning and unweaning went a while ago. Soon after that, our lives settled and L1 didn't need to breastfeed as often. I think he stopped asking altogether shortly before I became pregnant with L3. L2 was still going strong.

L2 has a very strong personality. He is somewhat sensitive, high needs, while demanding to be independent. It can be a struggle to connect with him. Breastfeeding was our time. So I continued to breastfeed him into my third pregnancy. But, his temperament made it difficult to set limits, especially where nursing was involved. When I needed to start setting limits, he started hitting, scratching, and kicking. It finally came to the point that it was just easier to distract him or deny him than to deal with the abuse I would receive if I needed to stop the session before he was done.

I felt horrible to push him to stop. Breastfeeding was so important to our relationship. He was always so much "younger" than his brother in his attitude. I just kept promising he could try again after the baby arrived. I knew it had worked for L1, I could just hope we could do it again.

It took a few months of settling once L3 arrived. And one day, I was finally able to give him a chance. He mostly held my breast in his mouth, but he was SO HAPPY, and I felt closer to him than I had in those long months. After a few tries, he is now able to nurse again. He doesn't ask all the time, about once a week when things get rough.

Some people might ask why I would let them begin again after going through everything to get them to wean. The answer is simple: we weren't done yet. Circumstances led us to that point, but my children still needed what breastfeeding had to offer them. The closeness, that bond, the soothing routine of settling down for a dose of the good stuff. L1 was able to slowly stop, and now L2 is getting his chance to have a say in the weaning process. My only goal is that they last time they ask: they get it. They are still so little, it is important to me to treat them with respect and honor their needs. And I will, as long as it works for us.

Thank you for visiting the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 21 with all the carnival links.)


  1. Oh! Your goal that the last time they ask, they get it — that really resonates with me and makes me a bit teary-eyed. Thanks for sharing, and for showing that the weaning process can be a fluid back-and-forth, not a nonstop road in one direction. I really appreciate that perspective and think it could make it easier for people who are contemplating (or experiencing) a pregnancy to know that an unweaning is possible in the future if circumstances lead to a weaning in the present.

  2. I don't think I could say it any better than Lauren at all! I feel good having a goal in mind for our nursing relationship. I can see a light at the end of the aversion tunnel.

    I'm pleased to hear how well things have worked out for you. You were so very supportive to me when we were "in the trenches" together during pregnancy.

  3. This is a wonderful post for anyone to read, but especially for moms who are contemplating a pregnancy but are worried about weaning (or not weaning) their older child. I'm happy that I've breastfed Abbey through my pregnancy and am a happy tandeming mama - now that I've set some limits for my older child. . . I love the idea that comes through your post - that nursing is a fluid relationship and not the same for everyone. Follow the child and honor your feelings! :) Well done, mama!

  4. Your story is such a perfect example of how you listened to your needs (having him stop during your pregnancy) and being attuned to his needs - and flexible enough to meet them in a way that felt right to you both later. Bravo, mama!

  5. I think it's great that you're giving your toddler the chance to wean on his own terms. I keep wondering if it would be easier to just not let Peanut nurse anymore, but then I feel like she would just keep asking and asking. It wouldn't really end just because she stopped nursing. It needs to end on her own terms.