I realized the other night as I was breastfeeding my son that I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding since September of 2007. Yes, you read that right. It has indeed been nearly four and a half years since my body was actually my own. So I say it’s time. Let the weaning begin!
The trouble is, I don’t know how to do it. I’ve read articles and pamphlets and talked to friends, but none of the advice seems to apply to my situation. My son is 20 months old, so he doesn’t rely on breast milk for nutrition so much anymore, but he also refuses to drink cow’s milk. Or milk of any kind, for that matter. And he won’t take a bottle or even a sippy cup. So the typical method of weaning from mama’s milk to an alternate white, creamy liquid (gross, sorry) is not an option. I have to hope that when I deny him the boob, he’ll be happy taking simple love and affection in its place.
Which actually brings me to the other reason I’m worried about this whole weaning thing: I’m not sure I’m completely committed to it. Which is to say, I’m not completely committed to it. Judge away – I certainly have. Given that bit of knowledge I just dropped in the first paragraph (the four and half years bit), how insane must I be if I’m not 100% determined to get this adorable child off my boob pronto?
But the truth is that very few things in life, or certainly in parenting, are as convenient and sure-to-soothe as breastfeeding is. I know intellectually that it’s way more important in the long-term for our son to adopt his own self-soothing methods, but in the short-term I’m loathe to lose even more sleep than I already do. Or to handle the crankiness and frustration that can arise during the weaning process.
Okay, having read what I just wrote, I’m a little bit ashamed. But it’s the truth! I am one of those moms who has two kids and not a lot of time for bullshit. I like to keep things flowing smoothly, even if it means sacrificing my own future freedom. That’s pretty lame, huh?
It was so different with our daughter. At 19 months, she decided all on her own that she was done with breastfeeding. I was pregnant and producing less milk than she was used to and she had already cut back to once or twice a day when, on a random January morning, she patted my deflated balloon of a boob and turned her head away in disgust. That was it. She never asked for it again.
Cut to my son on the playground this morning, tugging on my pant leg and pleading, “Booba, booba,” for no apparent reason. I didn’t give in, by the way. I am finding, thankfully, that distraction is a beautiful thing. He and I moved on to throwing a ball back and forth and I’m pretty sure no permanent damage was done by my refusal to open up the milk store on demand.
So I’m starting out with a goal of no breastfeeding during the day. We still assume the position when he first wakes up in the morning and just before bed… and every now and then when he’s making a big enough fuss and I’m tired or too in love with his sweet face to say no or at a loss as to what else I can offer in lieu of his favorite thing in the world. My method is far from perfect, but I’m hoping that one of my favorite parenting platitudes holds true: find what works for you and do it.