After months of trying to cut back - offering food and drink before nursing, not nursing outside the house, only nursing before nap and in the night - I finally decided to just stop, completely. I had been talking about it with Tai during this time; he's a big boy, big boys drink from a cup, boobies helps babies grow up into big kids and he's a big kid, etc. I hoped that he would just decide he was done all by himself. He was doing no such thing. In fact, during the last few weeks, he seemed to be asking to nurse more often. I started wondering whether I might have been making weaning a bigger deal, more fraught, for him than it otherwise would be.
I talked about it with friends, I talked about it with Wendy (my therapist), I talked about it with my mom, I talked about it with Tom. Finally I realized it came down to me, and Tai of course, but mostly me. There were a few things that made me decide to finally take the plunge:
- I didn't want to fill my intimacy needs with Tai. Tom and I are lacking in the intimacy department right now, and though I wasn't using nursing in that way yet, I wanted to be careful. Yes, nursing was a super intimate experience, but it needed to only be what it was.
- I want to have physical intimacy with Tom, and I hope that will benefit our emotional intimacy, too. (We haven't been having sex hardly at all since the birth - sex while nursing was extremely physically painful for me, probably due to lacking estrogen. Without sex, he felt distant from me. There's a lot wrapped up around that for me, and I still have to work it, but just having sex again would be a step toward Tom.)
- I want to get pregnant again. (I have a prolactinoma and need to be on meds to ovulate. I couldn't be on the meds and nurse.)
- I know Tai is ready to wean. He eats like a champ (knock wood). He wants to be a big boy. He's gotten two good years of Mama Milk. He's securely attached to me.
- Finally, Tai needs to have other ways of self-soothing. He's going to be starting preschool soon and will need other forms of comfort.
But even with all of the reasons nicely laid out, I was ambivalent about weaning for ages. I still am.
The first weekend was tough. On Saturday, when he was going down for his nap he had a tantrum for over an hour. He cried, screamed, begged, bargained, hit, kicked and pulled my hair. Finally he wouldn't even lay down so I went to get Tom. Exhausted, Tai fell asleep pretty quickly with Daddy. But I felt like a horrible Mommy, especially when he would say, "Just a little little bit." "Just ABC". "Just 1,2,3." (We tried nursing to 10 or nursing through the ABCs when we were cutting back.) I hated saying no, withholding. I felt like I was withholding my love (which I know is my issue). Sunday was easier, and Monday was even better. He is drinking from bottles at night and nap, which isn't great but I don't mind. Weaning from a bottle won't feel so psychologically difficult for me.
We even let him pick out a Big Boy present, whatever he wanted at Target. He got a vet set that has a pet hospital, a puppy and kitty, and some vet instruments.
I kept telling myself that every kid has to be weaned, and it's always hard. That I'm not a bad mother. But I got teary a few times, and when I was putting him down for his nap one day, I was cuddling him close and I cried just a little (after he was asleep). Sometimes he doesn't feel at all like a big boy to me. He's just a little one! And he loved the comfort so much, and I loved to be able to offer him that comfort.
After a few weeks he stopped asking for 'boobie' - though he still says, "Hold boobie' when he's falling asleep and "open boobie" so I pull up my shirt and let him hold me. Someday we won't do that anymore, but for now it's okay.
I can't believe that part of our relationship is over. Just one of the millions of separations that will take place ever since he was born.
In other news - I have to remember to upload my novel-in-progress to google docs. I keep leaving the most recent edition on some computer or keycard that I don't have with me. This afternoon I managed to find the keycard, bring my laptop and get to the library with two hours of Toddler Time to myself. I open my laptop - no file. I check the keycard - no file. I am assuming that my most recent version is on the desktop or the other keycard. If not? Freakout time. I'm not going there yet.