Here's the book I wrote for my toddler, Jonah, as we've been night-weaning this week.
by Sally Jackson
***I noticed recently that when telling people you're still nursing an (almost) three year old, it can either spin off a great conversation or put a very quick end to an awkward one. I've been experimenting with it lately, just to see which way it goes. The spin off way is always fun because you get to chat about fun things like how nursing is more than nutrition, and how some toddlers just aren't ready to wean, and how meaningful it is to your relationship with your child and all that good stuff.... But then I'll bring it up with someone or even a group of people who I'm not so sure about and then it usually either goes to silence or I'll get a sympathetic response like,"Oh gosh, you poor thing--that sounds tiring!" Nope, I think in my head, I'm not a martyr, I'm a mother. Or the one I loathe more than anything, "Well, I bet your excited to get your body back soon."
Honestly, I have never felt like my body was taken from me. In fact, I was the one who decided to bring my babies into this world and share my body with them. The milk I've produced comes from hormones produced out of the result of being pregnant. I am happy to share the miracle of my body with the miracle of my baby. They go hand in hand beautifully!
So, I never imagined from the moment I put my very first baby up to my breast that I would be breastfeeding for the next seven years! Well, It would be seven years straight except for the short month and a half between when Odin weaned and Jonah was born, but who's counting? :) After seven years of breastfeeding I've decided that you just can't care what anyone else thinks! People can respond any old way they want to because in the end they were never there when it mattered most.
They weren't there when your first baby latched on right after after birth. They weren't there as you smiled deeply and inhaled their yummy, newborn-baby smells. They weren't there when your now-walking-baby came to you signing "milkies" with those adorable, outstretched hands. They weren't there when you walked up and down the hallway at 3am nursing your baby in a sling because his painful gas was keeping him up all night. They weren't there when your toddler had tubes placed in his ears and the only thing that calmed him down after the surgery were those precious milkies. And they certainly weren't there when your two year old woke up in the middle of the night asking,"Can I please have that milk-milk side?", making you laugh so hard that you couldn't imagine life without a nursing 2 year old in your bed! Lastly, they won't be there as you continue to cherish and nurture the relationship with your nursing three year old, slowly watching as he gently lets go of your hand and moves towards independence. It won't be long before he stops nursing completely, at his own time and at his own pace, with a foundation of love and trust beneath him. I am happy to share my abundance of milk with my toddler, and feel grateful that I've been able to nurse these past seven years.
|Zadok's nursing in the first hour after he was born.|
|Odin nursing in his favorite pouch, 11 months old.|
|Jonah nursing at 6 mos old.|
We just night weaned Jonah this past week. He turns three on July 25th. It went smoother than I expected. I was feeling nervous about it for weeks beforehand, because if you know Jonah, he LOVES his nightime milkies! --Sometimes waking up 2-4 times in a night asking cheerfully,"Mommy, can I please have milk-milk?" There were some nights when I was exhausted and tried to refuse, but he made sure I knew how upset he was, screaming, "No! I need milk-milk! I really, really need milk-milk" while crying and kicking in the bed until I rolled over and gave in!
So, I really prepped myself for the worst as it came time to night wean him. Micah and I both talked with him beforehand about how milkies needs a break at night, and that he can have it as soon as the sun comes up! I wrote and illustrated a book for him called Goodnight Milk-milk that we would read before bedtime come the night we'd attempt weaning. I also made sure to have yummy snacks, favorite books, and lots of mommy snuggles available, as gentle substitutes for his favorite milk-milk.
Well, the first night that he woke up asking for milk-milk, I reminded him about how milkies needed to sleep, too. He cried a lot, and yelled into the night, then snuggled up to his daddy and went back to sleep. The next night same thing. Then the next night he woke up for a brief second, asked for milk-milk then went back to sleep. The fourth night he didn't wake up at all. It's been about 2 weeks now and I can say I haven't slept this good in seven years! Yay for night weaning!