In honor of Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to share a story of nursing outside the box. The details of this story are being published in an article I wrote for The Mother Magazine, UK, but I wanted to share the crux of the matter here. I had a beautiful, unencumbered nursing relationship with my first born daughter. We nursed to sleep, nursed in the sling while out and about and she was always with me, nursing on demand. When she was 15-months old, I conceived her brother and continued to nurse while pregnant. This was demanding as I was exhausted and famished but I managed to eat two breakfasts a day and continue on. I wanted our children to be close in age, but I also wanted my firstborn to get everything she would be getting if I had waited to get pregnant for the second time. I was managing but eventually, the nursing started to get so uncomfortable as my pregnancy advanced that I had to wean my daughter. She was 20-months old. I had nursed her everyday and every night for over 600 days, but it still felt premature to wean her. She didn’t want to wean and I didn’t want to wean her, but at six-months pregnant, the nursing had become intolerable. Three months after I weaned my daughter, her baby brother was born.
My daughter asked to nurse. I let her try just so she’d feel included, but I didn’t feel up for full-fledged tandem nursing. When we weaned, my daughter had been down to one nursing a day; her infant brother was nursing on demand, all the time; my daughter would want to nurse every time he nursed and I didn’t feel up for that. I tried to just say, “Yes,” sometimes but it was ineffective and caused more distress than a consistent “No.” So, I decided to let the weaning stand and I continued to nurse my son for another year. My daughter continued to ask to nurse on and off during this time; she never forgot about nursing. The overall adjustment of siblinghood was great, except for this one area. I was experiencing guilt around my daughter’s weaning. I felt she had been deprived since neither of us were ready when she weaned. Here it was, a year later and she was still asking to nurse. It felt like it was still an active longing for her. One day, soon after her third birthday, my daughter was irrationally upset about something and suddenly, I knew I had to nurse her. And, I knew it would be conscious and clear and that she would be allowed to nurse again, but with some limits to make it tolerable for me. I knew since she was older she would able to handle the boundaries. I scooped her in my arms and told her she could nurse again, once a day, during her brother’s nap and it would be our special time. I told her she could do this for as long as she wished until SHE WAS READY TO WEAN. It was profound. I had never heard of someone being completely weaned for over a year and then regaining nursing privileges. My three-year-old daughter nursed once a day until a few months before her fourth birthday. At that point, she came to me and stated that she was getting to be a big girl and didn’t need to nurse anymore. We celebrated her last day of nursing with a date. The longing was gone and I am forever grateful that I made that decision and let her nuse again to faciliatate a child -led weaning. –Jessica, L.O.V.E. Parenting
About Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams created L.O.V.E. Parenting with a series of techniques for effective communication, deepened connection and more joy in parenting and life. Jessica is also the creator of www.UltimateParentingCourse.com with the best of today’s progressive parenting experts together in one program. Jessica is a featured expert internationally on both Mothering.com’s Ask An Expert and the upcoming www.KidsInTheHouse.com. Jessica is a regular contributor to Mothering Magazine’s All Things Mothering, LA Parent Magazine, LA Mom Magazine & DailyBuzzMoms. She has been interviewed on television and radio and taught workshops at family wellness centers, schools and doctor’s offices. Her BirthKit has helped women have a transformational & empowering birth. Jessica maintains a private coaching practice in her native Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and their three children. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.”—Carrie-Anne Moss. “All you have shared has helped tremendously.”—Lisa Bonet. “I am experiencing nothing short of a miracle thanks to your laser beam approach.” –Andrea Bendewald.