Isabel is Weaning

Except by weaning, I mean weaned. But if I write weaned all official like that in my title it’ll mean it’s true, and I don’t think I can handle that at the moment :(

Truth be told she’s not had a feed that involved actual milk transfer in well over a month (early October). She’s nursed a few times since then but usually for a few seconds, before announcing “finished” and toddling off… not long enough to stimulate let down, never mind actual milk flow. Thus, my boobies have all dried up.

I wish that I could say it was because I’m pregnant, at least then the guilt I’m feeling would be rational. Instead I feel like I’ve let her down but can’t put my finger on why.

You’re all probably thinking I’ve lost my marbles about now. She’s 2, she’s not a “baby”. I guess my problem lies with the research that tells us babies typically self-wean around the age of 4, and if my baby hasn’t lasted that long, then what did I do wrong?

It all started ‘going wrong’ when she began sleeping through the night around 6 months ago. I’d wanted her to sleep for so long, and when she did (no influence from us) … well, I had no idea that it would be the beginning of the end of our nursing relationship. From there she was down to 2 feeds a day (after nursery, and before bed). She replaced the first with a yoghurt — her choice; tantrums if we had none in — and the last with cuddles.

I did everything as I “should”. She never had bottles or a dummy. She slept sleeps in our bed. We didn’t night wean or sleep train. She had on demand access to the boob when she wanted it. I didn’t restrict her feeds to certain hours or enforce rules about “only at home” (not bothered about feeding a toddler in public). I guess I went back to work. But I only work 4 days, so why didn’t she compensate over the other 3?

I don’t have answers, and I don’t understand why I’m so bothered about something so totally out of my control. Maybe it’s the hormones. Maybe it’s normal to feel this way when something so special comes to an end.

Sigh.

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15 comments so far

  1. Hev said:
    On November 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Ok, Jem. I know my child is was four when I got her. But I do know what I am talking about. Isabel is fine & you are too. There is no reason to feel guilty. As long as she is getting the nutrition that she needs from the food that she is eating then all is good. Some children wean early & some wean late. My cousin didn’t completely wean until he was seven (didn’t quite understand that, but he didn’t). When you have the new baby, Isabel may want to start again. Sleeping all through the night is good for her & you. In my opinion, you both are ok. Be happy for her. She is maturing & proving to be a very smart little girl.

  2. Amelie said:
    On November 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    In my opinion (as a non-parent), you didn’t do anything ‘wrong’. You practised BLW and she led it at her own pace. If she’s ready to go solids full time, then perhaps it might make you feel better to try to see it from the point of view that she’s at that stage because she feels ready for it, and not because you have pushed her there.

    However… and obviously I’m not a doctor or anything and I don’t know much about babies and their behaviour, but when #2 comes along, could that restart Izz back onto the boob? Maybe she’ll feel jealous, or miss the feeling when she sees her sibling do it?

  3. Mumblies said:
    On November 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    It is indeed much worse thanks to your hormones. It is also normal for highly intelligent children, once they get into nursery/preschool playgroups etc to decide that they are far too busy and have far too much to do to need to BF. They have social interaction with many other children both the same age and older/younger as well as adults and so much more to play with and do than any child could have at home.

    This in turn means that they go through normal average boundaries far faster than many other toddlers their age do. This can also mean that they themselves self wean simply because at the end of their day they need sleep far more than they did before and zonk out without the need to nurse and/or feed as they did earlier.

    This does not mean you are a bad Mummy, nor does it mean you have neglected your child, she knows that mummy is there for love and cuddles and comfort on top of providing food (do also bear in mind that solid adult food is far more interesting than boobyjuice) and she knows that she is safe with you both. As you have previously noted she often asks about nursery on your days off – this does not mean she doesn’t want to be with you, just that she now has other things in her life to think about.

    The older a child gets the more independent they become and the more they distance themselves slightly as a result of this. I know exactly what you mean about feeling rejected and at a loss because she has distanced herself and I do know how it feels when a child no longer needs booby and can assure you that you did nothing wrong and she is perfectly ok and will continue to thrive and grow. Considering that you are expecting her younger brother or sister now maybe this isn’t such a terrible thing after all – the rest will do you good and pretty soon you will be there for your next little one and the circle begins again, don’t be surprised if Iz decides she wants booby when she sees the new baby feed, that is also normal.

  4. Josh said:
    On November 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Izz is just precocious. Very smart like her mum. ;)

  5. Mindy said:
    On November 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I agree completely with Amelie. Isabel made the choice on her own so that, to me, sounds like she is just ready to take that step. You are a great mom. Everything comes to an end eventually, even when we don’t want it to. :( Sending you hugs!

  6. Aisling said:
    On November 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    I agree with everyone. Isabel is just a smart, super advanced child. You didn’t do anything wrong. Kids just do things at different paces. Soon #2 will be here and it will all be completely different, most likely!

    You’re an amazing mom.

  7. Chantelle said:
    On November 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Isabel’s fine. :) As for you, I think it’s natural for you to feel the way you do. Your little girl is growing up and something special came to an end before you expected.

  8. Meggan said:
    On November 18, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I just want to give you a big hug. I think weaning is much more emotional than people give it credit for, especially when it’s child-led and not mother-led, since it’s their choice and not yours. Plus, pregnancy hormones are probably magnifying the situation a bit.

    I totally get the feeling of wanting them to nurse longer, no matter how long they’ve already been nursing. I mean, Wesley is almost 20 months old and night before last, he skipped his evening feed and I was so sad! He only nurses 2x/day so skipping one is a big deal. I’m not ready for him to be done, and yet we’ve nursed longer than many people expect to.

    Anyway – I hear what you’re saying. Big hugs from this side of the pond.

  9. Tanya said:
    On November 18, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I don’t blame you for feeling the way you do, but honestly, it sounds like a a loving and natural way for her to wean to me (although as others have pointed out, it may only be a temporary thing seeing as you have another on the way). Take it from someone whose milk dried up when her baby was only three weeks old – wouldn’t you rather you were left wanting more rather than the other way around? :)

  10. Louise said:
    On November 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Oh Jem – letting go is so hard when we’re not quite ready and it’s natural to feel how you’re feeling. Some children take ages to wean completely if we’re open to following their cues. They’ll ask maybe once a week, once a month, when they’re feeling under the weather, when a new baby arrives (!!)…. And as for milk drying up – that too can take a long time, although pregnancy interferes with that somewhat.
    If you haven’t already found this poem, you might like it
    http://www.lactivist.net/?p=137

    Thinking of you….

  11. Erin said:
    On November 19, 2011 at 3:19 am

    The end of an era. I would be sad too, even without the pregnancy hormones. Thankfully Cody still nurses, although he is very occasional about it. I imagine he’ll be following Isabel’s footsteps before long. Why do kids grow so fast?

  12. Janet said:
    On November 19, 2011 at 9:17 am

    I don’t think it is a question of what did you do wrong, but more about what did you do right. You have a happy and secure child that feels that she can be weaned and still be safe, fed, and cared for. Just because there are some kids who become weaned at four doesn’t mean that ones who do it sooner (or later) have something wrong with them or have bad parents. All kids do things at their own pace, and this was hers. Like others have said, when the new baby begins to feed, then she may start back. She may not.

    And it is okay (even, good) to mourn the idea of her not doing it anymore, because that is a major loss for you. Just don’t stress yourself out over it, okay?

  13. Hanah said:
    On November 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    First off, let me say that I admire that you have breastfed for so long! I only breastfed for 5 weeks (though still occasionally do), and I wish I had as much motivation as you to continue until my daughter self-weaned.

    She might just want to wean off earlier as a form of independence? Also, a lot of intelligent children seem to do/stop doing things sooner than regular children. And as someone mentioned, she could start back up when the new baby comes along!

    But regardless, I think you should just feel proud that you gave your daughter the best. Of course you’ll miss it, but don’t worry! You two will have different forms of bonding moments as she grows older. :)

  14. Melissa said:
    On November 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Aww, Jem, I don’t think you did anything wrong. I think it’s pretty obvious Izz made this choice herself. I know I don’t understand first hand what you’re going through, but just wanted to remind you that before long, you’ll have a new little baby that will get to share this same relationship. Don’t look back and be sad that Izz is done nursing, but look ahead and know that you will get to experience this again with a new little one!

  15. Nina Amelia said:
    On November 24, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Again, I’m late as fuck but I hope everything has turned out good for you and Isabel :)