Weaning Letter - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 09-21-2010, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm a frequent lurker and occasional poster who has relied on these message boards for so much information and inspiration as I nursed my son into toddlerhood. We have just weaned after 19 months of nursing and I wanted to thank the community for your encouragement along the way. Here's a letter I wrote to him that I hope you will enjoy. It was my way of commemorating his weaning since he is too young to really "get" a weaning party.

Dear Henry,

Tomorrow is your 19 month birthday, and it is also your weaning day. This is a big day for both of us. No more nummies to help you to sleep, or comfort you when you are sick. No more nummies to bring us back together when we have had a rough day. Sometimes, especially lately, I think I have needed that special time more than you have.

I know these days you are so busy and excited to start your day that it is hard to sit still for nummies in the morning. I want so much to have a long nurse tomorrow so I can memorize every detail, and I hope you are willing. I have so many fond memories of nurturing you at my breast, but I can’t recall the first time you ever nursed. I remember trying in the delivery room as soon as you were born, but then as now you were too busy. Looking around, meeting your family, saying “hi” and “ma” and “no.” I know we must have nursed soon after (because otherwise they would have been worried) but in the wee hours of that night I have no recollection of it actually happening.

I would have plenty of chances to make memories of nursing you. In the beginning I wrote down every feeding (and diaper) because I wanted to make sure you were getting enough to eat. If you slept more than three hours at night I woke to nurse you so you could grow big and strong. Then Dr. Wacker told me to stop doing that and let us both get some sleep. At your two week check-up you had already gained over a pound! Your Daddy couldn’t feed you at first but he helped me. When we were still learning how to nurse it took both my hands to hold your squirmy little body close to mine. Daddy brought me water with a straw and held it so I could drink while you did. Once he fed me a taco while I nursed you, trying not to spill any on your head, because making all that milk for you made me so hungry that I couldn’t wait.

Even though you took to it well, nursing wasn’t always easy. It was exhausting to be the only one who could feed you, and it hurt at first. You often pooped when you ate, and that made a big mess all over me. But it also felt so right, like how a mama was meant to love her baby. You looked so happy afterward. The books call it “milk drunk.” You looked thoroughly content when I sat you up for a burp, your head rolling side to side, eyes heavy, milk dribbling from the corner of your mouth. You could not talk yet, but you were saying, “Mama, thank you.”

When you were a few months old I calculated that you had nursed about 800 times. It seemed like a lot then, but we were just getting started. When you were six months old you had your first solid food, but just before we took a picture together so I could always remember what you looked like at that moment, 100% mama grown. For 15 months, first in my belly, then at my breast, I had nourished you. And you were perfect.

We nursed on, over time nursing less and eating more. You were never much of a napper, but I could always count on you to nurse yourself to sleep. Some afternoons, when I was really tired, I would sit in our nursing chair with you at nap time. I figured out how to hold you and sit across the chair so we could both sleep, rocking and nursing when you stirred. At night you woke me three times to nurse, then two, and finally one. I loved and hated those midnight feedings. They were a little secret of ours that know one else could know, just mama and baby dozing together under the blanket your grandmother knitted you.

Suddenly your first birthday was upon us! I always thought I would wean you when you turned one, but I wasn’t ready and neither were you. I learned about extended breastfeeding and child-led weaning. I decided to partially wean you down to twice a day (more if you asked) because I knew I could do that as long as you needed me to. I hoped we could make it to your second birthday, and then I would think again about how much longer we would nurse.

On your first birthday you were sick with an ear infection. I nursed you all day and night and you ate almost nothing else. I nursed you through your emergency room visit. After your stitches I got to watch the monitors as your heart rate and blood pressure went down while you nursed. It was so neat to see proof of the magic of mama’s milk. I nursed you through head bonks and smashed fingers. I nursed you when you were tired and cranky. I nursed on our hardest days, so I could show you that I still loved you through the frustration of parenting a toddler. I could not imagine how I would comfort you if I didn’t have nursing to rely on.

Around the time you turned 18 months old things began to change. You no longer ask for nummies when you need comfort. Instead you curl up next to me, head on my knee, while I rub your back. You give lots of hugs now and an occasional awkward, open mouth kiss. You no longer fall asleep while you nurse, no matter how badly you need a nap. If you hear Daddy in the morning you squirm out of my lap and run off to find him. Sometimes you say “bye bye” to the nummies as soon as I sit down with you in our nursing chair. You always want the side I haven’t offered you. You want things to be your idea, not mine, because you are becoming your own person now. A few days ago I stopped trying to nurse you after your nap. I am lucky to have five minutes with you in the morning. As sure as I was that you were not ready when you turned one, I know that you are ready now. It’s time.

So tomorrow will be our last day nursing together. I hope you let me nurse you a good, long time in the morning. I will watch your toes curl, your jaw move. You will pull my hair or put your fingers in my mouth. You will clutch Bun Bun close to you. I might tickle your belly so I can watch you grin while you nurse, my favorite memory of your time as my nursling. Then you will be done. I will try to hug you but you will wiggle out of my arms. Daddy will take our picture, just like he did the day you started solids. I will buy a double frame for those pictures that I will keep always, and then take you shopping for a special weaning toy. Maybe we will read Mama’s Milk one more time, and I will cry like I am right now. I am excited every day to see the boy you are becoming, but I will always mourn the baby you will never be again.

I love you,

Mama

P.S. Daddy read this, and he cried too. We both love you so much!


There's a follow up post on my blog (thencamehenry.blogspot.com) with pictures. Thanks for reading! If you are a new mom struggling through, I hope this gives you inspiration to keep going. It was all worth it in the end!

Hannah
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#2 of 12 Old 09-21-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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That might have been the most beautiful thing I have ever read. Made me cry. That will be cherished forever.

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#3 of 12 Old 09-21-2010, 03:15 PM
 
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Yep, now I'm crying at work.

It's so bittersweet.

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#4 of 12 Old 09-21-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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Thank you for sharing. That sounds very much like my experience with DD

I took a picture of my 6mo, 100% mommy-grown baby right before her first solids, too. She nursed for her last time on my DH's birthday, at 19.5 months. It really is bittersweet, as are many milestones along this parenting path.

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#5 of 12 Old 09-21-2010, 04:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by justKate View Post
Yep, now I'm crying at work.

It's so bittersweet.

Hippie sympathizer and mom to L, 4.8.10.
Pet-mom to Squirt with FLUTD & Maya the deaf wonder dog .
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#6 of 12 Old 09-22-2010, 12:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your kind replies. I've had a hard time with weaning him, partly because of the hormonal changes and partly because I really wish we could have made it to two. Sorry I made you cry at work!
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#7 of 12 Old 09-22-2010, 12:32 AM
 
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That was beautiful! I don't think I even made it past the first sentence before the tears began to fall. I am in the process of weaning ds and this really hit home, especially the part about tickling his belly to watch him smile while nursing. That is also something I love.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful letter with us all.

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#8 of 12 Old 09-22-2010, 03:00 PM
 
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Seriously, I've got a 5YO who weaned a year and a half ago, and a 6 month old who I'm nursing currently. I was a tearful mess reading your letter. Your boy is lucky to have such a sweet, nurturing, and observant mama.

Stacey teaching teens to read & write... Daddy plays ska, DD1 (7/05) loves trees & princesses, & DD2 (3/10) loves mommy-milk! Please get your kids tested for lead.
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#9 of 12 Old 09-22-2010, 04:30 PM
 
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DS has hand/foot/mouth virus and has refused to nurse since Saturday. I keep offering but he cries and turns away. We've been through a lot but he's never gone on strike for more than a day before and it feels like this may be the end of nursing for him. He turns 1 in a few days. I've been really emotional about it and your letter captured a lot of what I'm feeling. I will really miss the cozy moments cuddling him while he nurses.
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#10 of 12 Old 09-23-2010, 12:40 AM
 
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What a beautiful letter, Mama. It makes me want to go pick my baby girl up out of her bed and nurse her just because I'm so afraid of the day she decides she wants to no more.

brandi
Wife to Thomas (03/05) Mama to Tommy (04/06) & Emma (01/10)
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#11 of 12 Old 09-23-2010, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikala View Post
DS has hand/foot/mouth virus and has refused to nurse since Saturday. I keep offering but he cries and turns away. We've been through a lot but he's never gone on strike for more than a day before and it feels like this may be the end of nursing for him. He turns 1 in a few days. I've been really emotional about it and your letter captured a lot of what I'm feeling. I will really miss the cozy moments cuddling him while he nurses.
HF&M super sucks. Henry has had it twice but never bad enough to affect nursing. If that is the only thing going on, you could probably get enough supply back to keep nursing your little guy once or twice a day if you do a nurse-a-thon once he is better. Or he may just be done. Either way it's hard to wean when you weren't expecting to. A big part of my decision to go ahead and wean Henry was the emotional roller coaster his erratic nursing was putting me through. He probably would have nursed here and there for awhile longer and maybe even picked it back up but I was so sad and tired that I just couldn't keep going. Some women experience a type of PPD because of the hormonal changes that occur at weaning, so be sure and take care of yourself!
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#12 of 12 Old 09-23-2010, 03:24 PM
 
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Delurking to say that this is beautiful, and made me cry. I've had so much trouble nursing my daughter but we've been somehow making it through, focusing on all the positives like you've listed in your letter.
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