Thursday, November 8, 2007

To wean or not to wean

Paige is now 1 year and 2 weeks old, and she's still a total boob-a-holic. I've always understood and sympathized with arguments for child-led weaning (to a degree...I admit I can't get on board with women who are still nursing kids old enough to read) and I considered it an admirable achievement for women to nurse for the entire first year or longer.

I revise my position: It's great for everyone ELSE to be able to nurse a baby past a year. But I hate it.

Lately, Paige is a violent eater. She seems torn between snuggling in to nurse and going straight to sleep. She'll latch on for 30 seconds, then claw me, kick me, and push me away. But If I button up the goods, she has a conniption. So I give her the other side, hoping she was simply dissatisfied with the angle of the nipple, and the whole thing starts again. I don't enjoy putting her to bed anymore. John puts her down every night because she won't take a bottle or a pacifier from me, and nursing her for both naps has already worn me down, mentally and physically.

It's time to wean, I know, but I'm not sure how to do it. Owen and Mitch both gave up nursing readily and of their own accord at about 7 months old. I didn't have to coax or deny them. We were both ready and it all ended happily. But Paige isn't likely to take the loss very well. She's still compelled to nurse, still drawn to it passionately, even though something in her is clearly ready to move on. I just have no strategy for weaning a child who isn't ready to wean, and I'm not even sure I should wean her if she's not ready.

Part of me wants to wait it out. Maybe in a few more weeks the part of her that's done with the boob will overtake the part of her that yearns for it, and I won't have to cut her off. But I hate the anger that surges in me when she demands the breast, then writhes and complains and scratches. Every offering of my milk is tinged with resentment and irritation, and it's taking a toll on both of us.

I'm tired of the squirmy, crabby, demanding baby she's become when I put her to bed. I'm anxious to rediscover those peaceful moments of drifting off at bedtime, her drowsy eyes blinking up at me, her breathing deepening, her little body limp and warm.

That's the part of nursing I love, and it's over for us. I suppose she has weaned me in a sense, and now we both just have to come to terms with the falling away of her babyhood. But that's hard. She's the last of my babies, and these months have gone fast.

Maybe I'm torn, too.


Family Adventure said...

It sounds like you are stuck in a rut there. I don't have any advice to offer, as my nursing record was abysmal with both kids having major problems and switching early (as in the first month).
Is it possible that she's not getting enough milk from you, and that's what's frustrating her? 30 seconds sounds much to short, if that's the way it is every time.

Victoria said...

Aw - I feel your pain. My kids both self-weaned (my Boy at two and a half when I got pregnant with the Girl and my milk turned...and my Girl when she turned two - on her own). There is something about a one year old who is growing and changing, who thinks she's okay to wean, but not ready to give it up. Yet. I waited it out with both mine, and they eventually both returned to good nursers. I don't regret my choice. But I feel your pain...good luck with your decision either way. ((Hugs))!

Wendy said...

Honestly, her behavior sounds symbolic of how kids tend to treat their parents (especially mommies). They will treat us exactly as badly as we let them. Growing up, we loved our mom dearly, but she let us walk all over her and we did. I often find myself telling my kids, 'I don't deserve this.' And meaning it. And then doing something about it (usually based on Love and Logic).

If you're asking for advice, here's mine. If not, sorry, you can ignore me. I know everyone has to figure out what's best for their particular situation.

If she's a year, she's old enough to understand the concept of gentle touching versus being rough and hurting. Talk about it at non-nursing times, using examples (and toys). Then when she's nursing, if she's OK for the least little bit, mention that she's being gentle. As soon as she gets rough, say 'That's too rough and it hurts Mommy', remove her and give her to your husband (or put her down with a bottle). Keep trying for a couple of days; if she just refuses to be gentle, it's a sign that she's ready to be weaned (and that you're ready to have your boobs back).

I know I sound bossy, but it is exactly the advice I would give a good friend.

Good luck with whatever you do.

Leanne said...

Hmm. This is just like my third. I finally just gave up. She was VERY upset for about three days and then that was it, her bottle became her new best friend. She was only ten months old at the time though, one day I had just had enoght with all her 'fooling around' and ended the nursing. I still feel sort of guilty about that....but at seven now, she seems to love me.

Aliki2006 said...

This is a hard crossroads...we hit it at one point with my daughter, and then moved past it and I ended up nursing her until she was 21 months old. She really needed the nursing to fall asleep and so that was the impetus to finally call it quits. I still mourn it, though.

MadMad said...

I totally remember this! I thought I'd feel horrible when the last nursing came along... but it didn't happen that way. It just kind of ended when the time was right. And it was fine.