Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Weaning Update

This weaning thing, it is a strange thing to go through... as a mom. I've been nursing babies for 3 years straight. For the last year I was nursing 2. To wean Charlie, well, it is so strange, so perfectly timed, for him.

Here's the thing. I would venture to say that weaning is complete, already! Weird. What I found out was, Charlie was ready. He may have been ready much earlier. I kind of put it off, even though it was starting to grate on me for half a year or more. I kept pushing it back and back and back.

I don't really know how to write this without it sounding negative. I think it is so wonderful when a mama can nurse her child for more than 1 year, 2 years, 3 years. It is so healthy. To top it off, my protectiveness for Charlie includes these special Down Syndrome-y things: a slightly increased threat of Leukemia, an increase occurence of poorly functioning immune systems. In reality, he'll probably never face a cancer diagnosis, but the literature I've read about nursing babies having less incidence of Leukemia definitely spurred on the nursing marathon. And, the fact that he has been so healthy strengthened my resolve that nursing was working! Then there was the fear of breaking his heart. I didn't want to him to feel distanced from his mommy. Last, how does a mother go about weaning? Heck if I know! I'd never heard of the "No Way Jose" nursing plan until I made it up, so there you go!

I think it was the beginning of this past winter when I realized that nursing was in some ways driving a wedge in our relationship. Charlie loved to nurse so much, but his nursing style is very uncoordinated, and as he grew the sensation grew stronger and more uncomfortable. I began to avoid cuddling up with him at times for fear he would ask to nurse. Then, if I said 'no' or tried to distract him he threw a fit. It was my fault. I never did teach him any other way to receive comfort than to offer the breast. It is such a fast fix in infancy, especially so for Charlie (Calvin, it seemed, always knew just what he wanted, and if it wasn't a nurse, then he would let us know! Loudly!).

Well, we continued to nurse through the winter to give him one more flu season of immune system support (or was it one more season of mama avoiding something she thought would be unbearable). In the mean time, I set a date of April 1st to get down to business and intentionally work of weaning. Now it is April 8, and he is no longer asking to 'urse'. He willingly drifts off to sleep with just a cuddle and a kiss. He settles into my lap for a softly spoken story, just content to be with mama. And I, well, I am relieved. I could hold him forever, staring at that sweetly sleeping face. I am enjoying this new aspect of our relationship. Is that okay?

I think it wonderful that he nursed for 3 years. What a beautiful time. I just find it, I don't know, ironic I guess?, that for us, the weaning was more for me. Charlie was ready. He was nursing out of habit, perhaps out of duty, though there was enjoyment and closeness there too (of course!). I was nursing him, in the end, partially out of fear. Fear of cancer, fear of illness, fear of facing something difficult and unknown... There are no hard and fast rules for how a child, when a child should wean. It's all about relationship and knowing your child, and yourself, I suppose.


BrendaLou said...

Kim, rest assured....God has given you the wisdom to raise YOUR children. No one else can tell you what is right, except YOU.

I'm proud of you, and I'm sure God is too.

Lovin Mama said...

I'm so glad to read that everything went smoothly for you and Charlie. I nursed my older girls for 2 and 4 years. Weaning is such an individual thing for children. It sounds like nursing brought you some comfort in the face of all the fears we have for our kids w/ DS. I know that has been a benefit for me while nursing Goldie. You're boys are very fortunate to have such an intuitive and nurturing mother. :)

Anna said...

I loved reading your posts on nursing. Dave and I have been reading your blog for some time now but don't comment often (: We are going to start trying for this summer to get pregnant and are excited. I'm glad to know there are seasoned moms around like you to glean ideas from. I love the playful way you helped Charlie learn that there is more ways to be close to mom then having a good nursing session (:.

katie said...

Don't be too hard on yourself in this whole process! I think parenting is about doing what is best for the whole family (not just your kid and not just for mom). A nursing relationship especially is about two people, the kid and MOM. We each have to learn that we have a proper place in this world, that the world runs on love, not selfishness. So even if when you weaned had more to do with meeting your needs (which I doubt),I think that's okay. The timing is what works for your family. I think you are witnessing an easy transition for Charlie because you are continuing to meet his needs so well. You're not taking away nursing and then he's feeling a big lack in his life, you're taking away nursing and replacing it with more of yourself. That's what nursing is about along with a few more things which you so beautifully stated in your blog. The ease with which he seems to be making the transition is a big 'good job, mom!' to you for your timing and sensitivity to his needs, not a reflection on him being way over ready or you being a bad mom in some way. Your snuggle times sound so sweet! Charlie, you're the greatest!

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