My daughter is 17-months old and still breastfeeds. I intended it that way. During my first blush of motherhood I read oodles of articles about breastfeeding. As a result, I decided that letting my child self-wean in her own time was best.
But it's starting to freak me out.
Maybe it's the middle of night wake-ups. Those wee morning hours when my daughter stands up in her crib screaming "Na Nas" until my breasts arrive.
They aren't really my breasts anymore. My daughter slaps them or blows raspberries on them and giggles. Gone are the days of relaxed nursing sessions. She nurses like a mini toddler circus performer while simultaneously flipping through the pages of Goodnight Gorilla.
It's not pretty when my daughter displays more theatrical nursing demands in public, or around people other than my husband. There's nothing discrete about a toddler who climbs up, buries her face in my chest and shouts "Na Nas!" as she yanks up my shirt. This is not exactly what I envisioned when I committed to breastfeeding.
When my daughter was a newborn, I learned that the World Health Organization favours a two-year breastfeeding minimum. I didn't give it much thought. I simply bought more nursing bras.
Seventeen months later, I am ready to wean. The relaxin hormone, common in nursing mothers, is still flowing through my veins, turning me into a "Maternal Gumby," complete with twisty joints and useless ligaments. I actually injured myself getting out of bed the other day. The decision to wean became pretty easy.
But I wasn't prepared for how difficult it can be to wean an older child. Instead of easily transitioning to a sippy-cup of cow's milk, my daughter went on strike. The battle lines were drawn. It's mom versus baby and the winner is still undeclared.
By the way, if you decide to go with natural or baby-led, weaning, be prepared for lots and lots of unsolicated advice. Just smile and nod and do what works best for you — breastfeeding, bottle or formula. Actually, this rule applies to pretty much all unsolicited baby related advice — smile and nod.
Rather than drink anything from the seven different sippy-cups I offered, my daughter decided to hold out. She remained vigilant in her protest, a cotton-mouthed miniature activist. Her tenacity was both impressive and terrifying.
Distraction, according to parenting books, is a key weaning strategy. During her normal nursing time, I took my daughter to the park. She wasn't fooled. Instead of flying down the slide, she threw herself on the ground in a puddle of tears.
The next day, my daughter caught a nasty mucus-sponsored cold, which morphed into an equally nasty ear infection and fever. After a trip to the doctor, we were given some medicine and a prescription to breastfeed as much as possible. Well played baby, well played.
Needless to say, weaning has been put on hold. It's actually made me realize that I wasn't totally committed to the whole process. When my baby is sick it's one of the only things I can do to make her feel better. It has benefits for me too. When she curls up in my lap, I melt.
We will try weaning again in a few months. There's no rush, but if I am still breastfeeding during recess at the elementary school, seriously somebody slap me.
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