ambivalent on weaning preschooler - help! - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-15-2014, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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so i was hoping to let my daughter self-wean. she turns 4 yo soon, and has been down to nursing once a day for several months now (with my nudging). 

 

i also feel really ready to be done - my milk dried up months ago, and nursing hurts, and i'm starting to get the "nursing aversion" i've heard many moms describe.

 

however, i would continue if i thought my daughter needed to nurse, which she has seemed to need until recently. i have noticed over the last few months that nursing is *much* less important to her than it used to be.  so i've started to enforce "let's cuddle" instead of nursing a bunch in the last couple of weeks. she has mostly accepted this without even a whine, which also confirms to me that she "needs" nursing much less than before.

 

we're now at a few days of no nursing, but this morning she actually let out a brief protest whine about not nursing when she asked and i said "let's cuddle." i was taken aback, and started feeling guilty, and like i should offer her to nurse, but then she moved on to do something else and didn't ask again.

 

i realize the problem is that i myself am ambivalent - i want to be done, but also really really want to meet her needs.

 

so i'm trying to figure out whether to tow the hard line and tell her we're done by refusing each day until she figures it out (i've told her she's such a big girl that my breasts are tired of nursing, which is true), or to have a bye-bye nursing party.  or whether to go the other direction and offer to nurse anytime she seems unhappy for more than a second or two when i say no.

 

i know only i can make the decision, but it's hard since i'm a little unsure which way the balance is tipping between her needs and my needs right now.  any perspectives would be helpful to hear - thanks!

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Old 04-15-2014, 02:32 PM
 
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First congrats on the extended bf! That is great. I don't blame you for being tired especially if the milk has dried up, I dry nursed for a bit while pregnant and that hurts! When I was down to one nursing a day with my first I placed bands aids on my nipples and told her I had boo boos. She was two but still she got that it hurt me to go on. She cried but I don't think it was completely about the actual nursing as much as she really seemed sad I was hurt. Of course I felt horrible for ending it but felt it was for the right reasons. The first two days she asked I reminded her about the boo boos then the third day she didn't even ask she just came over for snuggles and I cried. I never in a million years would have guest I would have been so upset about being done with nursing. Good luck and no matter what you decide four years is a huge accomplishment!
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:34 PM
 
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Don't offer, don't refuse. Is amazing how much we want what were can't have. Give it to her when she asks but don't offer. Don't make nursing the forbidden fruit. smile.gif

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Old 04-15-2014, 05:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the suggestion, Blessedwithboys, but unfortunately "don't offer don't refuse" doesn't work for her at this point in time. We've actually been doing that for several months, and she still asks to nurse daily.

If I was willing to nurse 1-2 more years it could work, but I don't think I'll be able to swing that, especially since her need to nurse feels so minimal compared to what it used to be.
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Old 04-15-2014, 05:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks is much for the supportive words and for sharing, Lovemylab!

The funny thing is that she hasn't cried or really even complained when I've redirected her to cuddling instead of nursing. Except for her brief whining reaction today. That's why I feel she's so close to ready.

My DD is super spirited and intense, so the fact that she's barely complained about not nursing really tells me something.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pamplona View Post
 

i realize the problem is that i myself am ambivalent - i want to be done, but also really really want to meet her needs.

 

so i'm trying to figure out whether to tow the hard line and tell her we're done by refusing each day until she figures it out (i've told her she's such a big girl that my breasts are tired of nursing, which is true), or to have a bye-bye nursing party.  or whether to go the other direction and offer to nurse anytime she seems unhappy for more than a second or two when i say no.

 

i know only i can make the decision, but it's hard since i'm a little unsure which way the balance is tipping between her needs and my needs right now.  any perspectives would be helpful to hear - thanks!

 

I replied based of the above info...

 

 

And you replied with this:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pamplona View Post

Thanks for the suggestion, Blessedwithboys, but unfortunately "don't offer don't refuse" doesn't work for her at this point in time. We've actually been doing that for several months, and she still asks to nurse daily.

If I was willing to nurse 1-2 more years it could work, but I don't think I'll be able to swing that, especially since her need to nurse feels so minimal compared to what it used to be.

 

 

 

Sounds to me like you are letting yourself feel guilty for having already decided you won't nurse her again.  It's not a decision that I would make, personally.  I feel strongly about CLW and wouldn't refuse a 4yo across the board (as in, we may not nurse in a store as I push the cart and the child leans forward to drink while riding, but I would not refuse a bedtime nursing each night).  Full disclosure: I happily and willingly nursed my ds2 until a few weeks after he turned 5yo.  But 4 yrs is a good long time and if you are done, then just be done.  If you don't want to use don't offer/don't refuse, then just refuse and don't get hung up on the meeting her needs part bc it sounds like you've already made your mind up.


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Old 04-16-2014, 06:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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ah ha - that makes sense!  i could definitely see how you came up with the suggestions you did, since i did not include in my original post how we'd been doing "don't offer, don't refuse" for the last several months before i started redirecting her from nursing recently.

 

i have been feeling ambivalent about weaning, hence the post, but i agree that posting and thinking more about the issue is leading me to believe that i'm done as long as DD continues not to care.

 

it's funny how our ideals can sometimes change when a situation we could not have imagined arises!  i have been fully committed to self-weaning since around the time DD turned one.  however, i did not anticipate a scenario where i stopped wanting to nurse due to pain from dry nursing and nursing aversion AND where my daughter was still nursing but had no need or even strong desire to nurse.  

 

i think that especially as a child gets older, the balance between mom and child's needs become really important.  i always thought i'd self-wean because i figured that her need to nurse would be stronger than any feelings i developed to the contrary.  she's such an intense, spirited child that i could have never imagined a time when she would continue to nurse but really didn't care or feel strongly about it.

 

if she had put up a big fuss (or really even a medium sized fuss) i would just continued to nurse with "don't offer, don't refuse," since then i would feel that her needs might be greater than mine. but i'm floored that my super spirited daughter has said *nothing* and had *no* protest for several days in a row when i offered a cuddle instead when she asked to nurse.  that really tells me that she's ready. she then whined for a few seconds yesterday, which sparked my post, but when i was about to change my mind and offer to nurse she had already moved onto something else and forgotten about it.  and this morning, she actually didn't even ask!

 

it just goes to show that once again, scenarios can exist outside the box of what we expect.  i expected the path to self-weaning to be black and white, but it turned out to be pretty grey!

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Old 04-22-2014, 09:26 PM
 
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Sometimes it can be a habit more than a need.  Sounds like you worked it all out, and with an eye on your babe's emotional developmental level.  Great job, mama!


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Old 04-23-2014, 07:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks so much for the kind words, blessedwithboys!  you definitely hit the nail on the head - nursing had absolutely become a habit instead of a need or something important. i never knew that could happen, since DD is my first and only.  have you heard of other kids for whom nursing becomes a habit instead of a need over time?

 

as a follow up - she did not ask to nurse for several days, which floored me.  she asked this morning for the first time since i posted, and followed by saying she's thirsty.  i replied by asking if i could go grab her water bottle for her and cuddle, and she agreed without any protest. i also mentioned that my milk has dried up, which is true, since she's been dry nursing for several months.  so i think we're either weaned or mostly weaned now. 

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