After 5 years and 10 months of nursing, I think that my oldest daughter has finally weaned! It has been at least 2 weeks since she last nursed, and she has expressed a desire and commitment to be done. Any ideas for a cool way to celebrate her accomplishment?? She has gone a week without nursing before, but only when she was away from me on a vacation with her Nana, NEVER more than a day if I was around.
In the end, it feels a bit like mother guided weaning, but at this point I'm pretty happy with that. I've been asking her over the last year or so "when do you think you'll be done nursing?" "Do you think you'll be nursing when you're Dominic's age (18)?" "Do you think you'll still be nursing when you're 6?" that kind of thing (the answer has always been yes). I also had a serious conversation with her about four months ago telling her that when she was ready to be done nursing, we'd make sure that she still had special time to connect with me each day. I told her some of the things that her friends (some of whom are only 3 years old, so much younger than her) do when they want to be close to their mom even though they're done nursing (reading books, playing games, etc). I also told her that when she was done that I wanted to have a celebration of some sort to recognize and honor the fact that she was growing up and that we'd be making this big change. She was very interested in this idea (and asked whether we'd make cupcakes--I said SURE!).
After this conversation back in May, she said she was ready to be done nursing. At that point, she had been nursing every morning without fail and every night that I put her to bed (dh puts her to bed often). She made it 24 hours before she said she really wanted to nurse. I asked her "are you sure? It sounded like you were thinking about being done." or something like that, but she really wanted to nurse, so we did. Nothing said about it for a long time.
Periodically since then she's been asking about having a party "because I'm going to stop nursing tonight so can we have the party now?" I've always said that I really want to wait to have the celebration until she's stopped nursing for a while, because I want it to be really special and to really mean something. I also said that I thought it would be a celebration with just the 2 of us, since it was about our relationship changing (I didn't go into the fact that I didn't want her friends' parents to disown us...)
So a couple of weeks ago (wish I'd written down the date), we had a great conversation where she said that she was ready to stop nursing and we brainstormed other ways to be close once she was done nursing. One of the things on the list (she had me draw pictures too since she can't read yet--she wanted to be able to see the list herself!) is massage, which is feeling like our magic bullet! I asked her whether she felt really strongly about it and what she wanted me to do if she asked to nurse. Something like "do you want me to support you in stopping by reminding you about your goal if you ask to nurse?" She said yes, that she wanted me to support her in making this change (!)
She also said something like "and then you'll be happy, right mom?" which made me feel badly because I don't really *need* her to be weaning at this point, but I guess on some level it's been coming out that I'm a bit ready to be done. I'd rather connect in other ways that feel more loving and connected on MY end as well as hers. So I said "well, it will be a little bit bitter sweet," and I explained what that meant "sweet because it's amazing to watch you grow up, and learn new ways to relax yourself, and find new ways to connect, and bitter because it's a big change, and you're not my little baby anymore..." something like that. Hopefully she understood where I was coming from.
Anyway that was the last day she nursed. It has been two weeks, but it really feels like we've made a transition in our routine, which felt like half the battle to me (clean room, teeth, bathroom, book, nurse has turned into clean room, teeth, bathroom, book, massage...which is so sweet!). I think we're there! And it's seemed *relatively* painless on her end. The first few nights she did ask to nurse. I reminded her that she'd asked me to support her in making the transition--things like "are you sure you want to nurse? You asked me to support you in stopping, is that still what you want?" and "are you sure you want to nurse? You've already made it two days without nursing and it seems like it's been going really well." For the most part, she has been fine with that after two or three back and forths with me about it. I did one night say "if you really want to nurse, I'm fine with that, but you asked me to support you in making this change and I want to support you in getting through this hard part if that's what you still want," to which she replied "oKAY, I'll TRY it this new way. Hrmph." and then promptly fell asleep while I was massaging her back...
And for the past week, she hasn't even asked to nurse. And I've been putting her to bed MUCH more often (making a point to have more time with her at bedtime instead of her younger sister during this transition). It's been feeling really sweet to connect through massage instead of nursing, and I think it's meeting her need for some kind of PHYSICAL connection at bedtime. It feels really right for her. AND I'm really excited to be done nursing her. I still get to nurse my (almost) 2 year old, so I don't have the nostalgia of "this is my last time!" or "I'm done nursing forever!" which I imagine will make the end of nursing my younger dd a bit harder on my end...
Anyway, I can't really talk to that many people in real life about this, and those that I do talk to don't really "get" it. So I wanted to celebrate here a bit. Thanks for reading!
OH, and the weaning celebration...my ideas are to bake cupcakes for our family, take her out to a special one on one dinner, and maybe follow it up with a trip to the ice cream store. Maybe buy her a special rock (she loooooves rocks) to commemorate her accomplishment. Thoughts?