Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weaning Teresa

I can trace a slow decrease in Teresa's frequency of nursing from around her first birthday, but she was still nursing 5 or 6 times during the day and once or twice at night when I became pregnant (she was about 17 months old). With the pregnancy came increased sensitivity - by the 5th week it was definitely painful every time Teresa latched on. So I began to desire a more fast-paced progression toward weaning.

I've always been committed to nursing my babies for what most in our culture would consider a "long time"; I definitely hope to give each of my children the benefits of a year or two of breastfeeding. I thought the 2nd birthday might be a good stopping point, but I wasn't planning on being heavy-handed about it...I like the idea of child-led weaning. This pain really challenged me, though, and I started offering Teresa alternatives (drinks, food, etc.) with increased determination when she asked to nurse during the day. By the time I was 8 weeks pregnant, she was down to 4 nursings per day and slept through the night more than half the time.

One of the most difficult times to dissuade Teresa from wanting to nurse was during Mass. She'd gotten into the habit of asking once or twice every time we attended Mass, whether it was a Sunday or a weekday liturgy (we go to church 2 or 3 times a week these days). I think it was a combination of her seeking distraction from her boredom and her having access to me sitting still for a long stretch of time. When I began to dissuade her during Masses, she raised a fuss and became a distraction (to others and to us!). But I persisted and now it's been a week or more since she has asked during a Mass.

So I'm 13 weeks pregnant and we're down to nursing twice a day: before nap and before bed. If I'm not here (as when the babysitter put her to bed last night), Teresa can go to sleep just fine without nursing. But if I'm here, which is 99% of the time, she demands "more nurse!" I've tried rocking and singing, but they don't suffice...yet. We'll see! Teresa's 11th tooth poked through in the past 3 days, so I'm trying to have compassion on her when she's begging for the comfort of a quick nursing (it's only a minute or two, anyway). I am grateful that it hurts less now.

Do I think Teresa would be okay without me for a whole day and night now? Yes. Do I want to leave her with someone that long and go somewhere alone or with David? I don't know. It's still difficult to imagine - I've never been apart from her for more than 9 hours since she was born.

Photo from Catholic homeschoolers' All Saints party


Katherine T. Lauer said...

I'm glad it's going well!

Chanel said...

I feel like I could've written this post a year ago. I was in your exact position- it hurt to nurse Bobby while pregnant with David but I wasn't sure how to wean. He was almost 2 so I knew his nursing was more for comfort than nutrition. I also believe in baby-led weaning but when I cringed inside every time it was time to nurse Bobby, I knew something had to be done. I went to the store and bought stick-on nipple covers (rose petals, these were called) and put them on. When Bobby tried to nurse, I quietly told him, "It's broken, Bobby. Mama will rock you instead." Bobby understood something being broken and seemed to accept it. Then, one night he asked, "Daddy fix it?" I had to stifle my laughter! Rob fixes all of Bobby's broken toys so it was only natural for him to ask that. I told him this was one thing Daddy couldn't fix but that I was still there for him and I would still rock him to sleep. There were no tears and I think it was because he was old enough to understand what I was saying. As much as I hated to fib, I didn't know of another gentle approach to take with him. He was 22 months when he weaned and David was born 5 months later. Best of luck to you! I know it's not easy.


Frances said...

Thank you, Chanel - I really appreciate your comment/sharing. I've been amazed at how nicely our weaning process has gone! Slowly but surely, I got Teresa down to just nursing before bed. We are currently nursing only every other night or so. And when she does "nurse" it's only for a few seconds - it doesn't seem to be meeting any needs and I expect she'll give it up very soon. We'll see whether I'll need to do something to put a definite stop to it, like you did.

I've definitely seen a change in her lovey attachment: now, whenever she feels hurt or scared or unsettled, she cries out for blankie immediately (sometimes even before she'll allow us to hug/comfort her!). Blankie has taken the place of nursing, and I think that's probably a good thing for now.