I’ve contemplated writing this post for about two weeks now, but for the longest time I just didn’t believe it was happening. But now I’m going to say it (and possibly eat my words later)–Twig has weaned.
This is always how I had imagined it would be with Peanut. Just one day I realize that we haven’t nursed in a while and it turns out that she weaned without my really noticing. From speaking to other moms who do child-led weaning, this seems to be the general consensus on how it happens. One day you have a nursling and then one day you don’t. No big shift in thinking or functioning, just a natural progression.
Well that’s how it happened for us.
I guess it all started when I became pregnant with the baby we will now refer to as Banana (monkey will be his/her animal and their nicknames are foods that animal eats). Pretty soon after getting that positive test, I was dead tired All. The. Time. Turned out I was iron deficient (yay Floradix!), but regardless, I needed a lot more sleep at night. It was at this time that I decided to night wean Twig, probably when she was just a month or two shy of 2. We used a modified version of Dr. Jay Gordon’s method (just like I did with Peanut) and it went really smoothly. We were all happy and I was a bit more rested.
Still Twig continued to nurse beyond this point, which was fine by me. I had decided early on in the pregnancy that I wouldn’t attempt to wean her, but I also wouldn’t be to heartbroken if she weaned during this pregnancy. I think it has a lot to do with personality, so it’s unlikely it would all happen the same way as when Twig was born, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled to have another toddler wanting to nurse more often than the newborn. But like I said, personality. I don’t think Twig would have reacted to the new sibling in quite the way Peanut did. Peanut was always a huge comfort nurser (probably from all those months with horrible reflux where it was literally her only comfort) and Twig, while definitely enjoying nursing, was never that same kind of nurser. So my point is that I don’t think it would have gone down the same way.
Anyway, by the time she was night weaning, she wasn’t really nursing for naps anymore. Since I was gone during naptime fall semester, she was being put to sleep by my in-laws or mother (who take turns watching her). In the rare case I was able to get there before she fell asleep, she’d fall asleep on her way home in the car. Then Saturdays she would fall asleep on the way home from music class and on Sundays she wasn’t interested in nursing to sleep (we would, and still do, just lay in the bed together until she’s out). So nap nursing, which was a big one for Peanut throughout Twig’s pregnancy, was out. This meant it was just occasional nursing during the day and sometimes for bed at night (but even for that we had naturally gotten to the point where she would unlatch and fall asleep on her own so it’s not like she was falling asleep nursing or even that it was necessary).
For a while, I resisted nursing because I was sore. Pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, does that to you. It was like I could feel every tooth and it gave me major heebeegeebees. So I would delay nursing if I could, which I could most of the time. We still nursed at least a few times a week though. Then just after Twig’s second birthday, we all got sick and Twig was completely uninterested in nursing (even though I encouraged it in an effort to get her feeling better). My milk supply was dwindling at this point (also normal during pregnancy) and I don’t think she found much comfort in trying to nurse through a stuffy nose without getting much payoff.
After getting better, she was pretty much back to normal with nursing, but asking less often than before. I distinctly remember being about 13-14 weeks pregnant (I’m now 17) and sitting down to nurse and actually enjoying it for the first time in a while. We played and she nursed for a few minutes, then were done. I was really happy that we finally got back to the point where I wasn’t feeling like I had to distract myself to get through it. It had become the beautiful thing it was supposed to be again.
That’s the last time we really nursed. She’s asked for it a couple of times, but she doesn’t seem to understand how to nurse anymore. Her mouth just isn’t making the right movements. I remember Peanut doing the same thing when she tried to nurse once a month or two after she had stopped. I even asked her if she wanted to nurse once because I was getting this feeling almost like I had milk in a breast (which I now think was just growth because of pregnancy) and the same thing happened. Now she asks to nurse every week or two, but she will sit there for a second and then let go.
I’m not sure if we’re 100% done because who knows what will happen once the baby is born and my milk comes back, but I think we’re done. I’m not sure how we’d get back to her remembering how to do it. Honestly, while I’m feeling pretty sad about being done (I was hoping to go longer than 2 years, even though that is always my minimum goal), I don’t think I’ll encourage her learning again either. It was a lovely part of our life, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s part of the dynamic anymore. And that’s okay, it’s the natural progression of a child growing. Just another sign that my toddler is becoming a big girl.