Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chapter 2: It's My Baby and I'll Wean When I Want To...

"...wean when I want to, WEAN when I want to! You will wean to when you want tooooooo!"

It's no secret I'm a nursing mom. I lie somewhere between a full bottle-feeder and a whip-it-out hippy mom. With this baby, though, I have found myself closer to the hippy end of the spectrum and liking it :)

When Chloe was a babe I was home with her for eleven weeks, then I returned to teaching. She went to daycare 8-4 M-F, so she was introduced to the bottle in the beginning, and though I didn't give her formula at all, she was primarily bottle fed. I nursed her at night and on weekends, but that was it. She was fully accustomed to the bottle, as she had to be, which meant she wasn't very attached to me. She also sucked her thumb, which led her to be an excellent self-soother (though brought with it a terrible addiction we still fight). At ten months she was pretty-well done nursing, and I was fine with that.

When Miss K came along, I wanted to be sure we weren't thumb-sucking again, and the Mister was adamant against the paci. So I fully nursed, and that was it. She never really took to the bottle, likely because I didn't push it. This had me tethered to her night and day, and while it was sometimes emotionally draining, it was also really great for both of us.

As she came on the six-month mark, however, the comments began pouring in. What's the worst is that they come from people I know and love who *should* be supporting my decisions, not questioning them.

When are you going to wean her?
Are you STILL nursing?
Isn't she getting too big for that?
Do you still feed her "like that?"

My easy answer? At what age would you wean from a bottle? Usually that ended the conversation. I don't know why it is anyone's business how long I nurse my infant. It would be different if she were five and I was going to the school at lunch time to nurse her. One day I told someone, when asked when I planned to wean, "Sometime between one year and when she goes to school."

I had every intention of allowing Kailyn to wean herself. She was very attached to me, and I really didn't have the heart to take away her one and only comfort item. However, as she got closer to a year, she became very demanding, making it impossible to go anywhere that I didn't mind feeding her in public. She began throwing tantrums if she couldn't nurse when *she* wanted to. Just before her birthday I learned I was pregnant again, and decided to go ahead and wean her at 13 months. It was a traumatic two-week effort for both of us, but now that she is happily drinking chocolate milk from a cup as a replacement, and using a blankie for comfort at night, there is nothing left to break her from, which feels like a huge accomplishment.

I had no interest in nursing a toddler and a new baby, and I knew weaning would be even more difficult if I waited too close to the baby's birth. Those two things alone influenced my decision. If I had not become pregnant, I very likely would have nursed her to 18-24 months or until she stopped on her own, whichever came first.

I've come to learn when you have children, you're kind of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Someone always has an issue with something you do, but in the end it's best to make your parenting decisions based on what you believe is best for your child, yourself, and your family. Now if I can calmly and rationally remember that as I go through pregnancy and infancy one more time....

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