Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Day My 4 Year Old Weaned!

I've been meaning to write this post for quite some time now. But life happened. So here it is, better late than never. 

Last year I wrote about waiting to see if my son would potty train or wean first. Three months after that blog post, my then 3 year old potty trained. Score! A year went by and by his 4th birthday he was still nursing. At this point not only had I been nursing for four years, I had also been tandem nursing for a solid year and a half. So at that point, I was definitely feeling "done" and started considering weaning my 1.5 year old as well. Nursing aversion was kicking in full force and was affecting my nursing relationship with my little guy. At that point, I knew I needed to wean my four year old. To be completely honest, I hadn't considered weaning him sooner since everyone kept telling me I "needed to get him off the boob".
 It's kind of like, tell me I can't and I'll prove you wrong scenario. I can't stand when people tell me what I should/shouldn't be doing with my kids. So I kept nursing because I wasn't about to wean with that kind of attitude from people in my life! But at a certain point, I stopped talking and listening to people about nursing. We obviously had different views on what an "acceptable" age to be nursing was.

 I started looking for weaning help from breastfeeding groups on Facebook. I needed to wean for my sanity and because nursing was putting a strain on my relationship with my four year old. I figured a group of breastfeeding moms would be the perfect place to go because they, of all people, wouldn't be the kind of people to judge my decision to nurse this long. My son was waking more throughout the night to nurse than his younger brother and I was not getting enough sleep! The breastfeeding group I asked questions in was no help at all. In fact, I got such a crappy response from someone thinking one thing works for all children. So I got angry and left the group and ended up in tears. The only answer I my husband and I came up with was to wean both boys. 

Because nothing else was working. My younger son was able to nurse throughout the night and my four year old just didn't get why he couldn't nurse as well. Attempting to wean him was proving to be more painful and exhausting than nursing and I was getting even less sleep. One morning, really early, he kept asking to nurse. When I said no, he started screaming and crying. I was tired. I was done. I was mad because he woke his brother up. So my husband took him 
downstairs to chat with him. Whatever he said really worked. (He may have said something along the lines of "big boys don't nurse"). It was not without punishment, however. He told me- "You're breaking my heart. I just so want to nurse!" And oh my gosh did that just hurt me to hear. It made me cry. I didn't want this to be the way we ended our nursing relationship. I offered to snuggle him instead and that seemed to work. This is not how I envisioned weaning him. I think about it constantly and get depressed. I wanted so badly for it to be an easy transition with little tears from either of us. That didn't happen. It was completely opposite.

Looking back, our nursing relationship was not the easiest. He was my first baby. While I knew even before he was born that I wanted to nurse and I would do everything to make sure he only ever had breast milk. I just had no idea what to expect. I didn't know many mothers who were or did nurse. I was pretty much the only one at the time nursing my baby. The first experience with nursing I had come in contact with was when my niece was born. Her mother nursed her. But she was done long before my son was born. Nursing was much harder than I expected. My gosh was it so hard for us. I ended up with an over supply, got really bruised, had mastitis and clogged ducts constantly. Oversupply was such a challenge for us. All of it was really. But oversupply was so hard because my poor tiny baby was struggling to nurse. I remember one night my husband (in the middle of the night while I was crying) googled ways to help my son nurse while dealing with oversupply. He was such a good support system for me.

At one point, I really just wanted to quit because I was so bruised and in paint. I thought it was normal. It wasn't. Don't ever think that nursing is "supposed" to hurt. That's what I thought. It's what I had been told. We found out that my son had a severe tongue tie. By age two, we had it fixed and nursing was so much better. Right after he had it corrected, I nursed him and knew instantly there was a huge difference. However, it still wasn't perfect because nursing while pregnant is uncomfortable. So after my second was born, I was finally able to enjoy nursing. The way it was meant to be. I was so happy and bonding really well with my boys. Together. I had more than enough milk to nurse both of my boys. So much so, that I gave them each their own "side" to nurse on. We kept up with that until the end. Even now, my two year old only nurses on one side. 

I'm proud that I was able to give him four years of nursing. And 1.5 of those being tandem nursing! It's amazing to think about. I'm happy to have some beautiful nursing photos taken as well. I recommend finding a good photographer to professionally capture those amazing moments. 

Breastfeeding selfies are great too, but there's just something so special about having some gorgeous professional photos done. I look back at those photos that we had taken in July (of 2015) and they make me smile. You can just see all the love and happiness that we shared during our nursing relationship. They will always be that special reminder of how much I loved and enjoyed nursing my boys.