Friday, September 2, 2011


Evan is weaning. Now, this should be a pretty obvious statement, given that the child is two-and-a-half and many people are shocked that he's still nursing at all. But nursing has been such a huge part of my relationship with each of my children that I feel sad to see it end, even when it is clear that it is time and he is outgrowing the need and all that. You see, Evan is the first comfort-nurser I have ever had wean and it is with a tear in my eye that I watch the end of this phase of our relationship.

Erin was never a comfort nurser. She nursed for food...period. When she was an infant, she nursed every 2-3 hours during the day and every 6-8 hours at night. As a toddler, I was her morning nourishment (followed by "real" breakfast), her mid afternoon snack and her bedtime fill-up. If she bumped her head or some other toddler emergency that required comfort, she never asked to nurse, she simply curled up with her blankie or with a book in our laps. When I was pregnant with her sister, she weaned fairly quickly as my milk supply decreased and by the time I only had colostrum in days before and just after her sister's birth, she literally looked at me and said, "Mama no milk, Erin want yogurt," and walked away. That was it. She never asked again and never accepted if I offered.

Megan was a HUGE comfort nurser. She nursed every 20-30 minutes through most of the first year of her life (in between bouts of crying!). As a toddler, practically every jolt brought her to my lap with requests for "ishy" (that was her word for it!). Unfortunately for Megan, weaning was not a fun time for her. Just shy of her second birthday, I nursed her to sleep before calling my friend Amy to come babysit for us. I was having pretty severe abdominal pains, you see, and because I was pregnant, I needed to go to the ER and get help. Amy brought me to the ER and I spent the next several days on pretty heavy medication, the following week in ICU and by the time I was home after losing Sophie, Megan was weaned. I tried to get her back when my milk came in, but she wasn't interested. I was crushed. Completely crushed.

So here I am with my third nursling and my second comfort-nurser. Before he turned two, we nursed all the time--"I want mama!" he would demand. For some reason, when he turned two, he stopped needing it so much. I switched to a "don't offer, don't refuse" type policy to try to ease into the weaning process. When I found we were pregnant again, one of the symptoms was that Evan just didn't seem to want to nurse anymore. More and more often he was permitting Chris to put him to bed. He was taking naps in the car or not at all, skipping that nursing session. In the past month or so we have come to a point where he hardly asks at all. With the exception of today, he hasn't asked to nurse in over a week (maybe two?).

Today was different. He was SO tired and in desperate need of a real nap. I have been watching two other children this week and all the activity has really made it hard for him to keep up. He was in full melt-down mode on the floor when I picked him up and hugged him. He looked at me with tears running down his face. "I want mama," he said quietly into my shoulder. I kicked the other children out of the house, told them I needed 15 minutes of quiet, and curled up in the rocking chair with Evan. He latched on gladly and when I asked him, "Is there any mama in there?" he shook his head no, but continued to nurse contentedly. He fell asleep within minutes and I just rocked him, admiring the dirt on his cheeks, the marker on his face, the bits of chocolate on his shirt. I looked at his hands curled into his blankie and his very dirty toes sticking out from under it. He looks so much bigger than he used to when he was nursing every day, so much older. I know our nursing relationship is almost over. I know that, now, every time I pick him up to nurse him could be the last time. Maybe it was today. And while a part of me will lavish the next few months of complete freedom before another nursling arrives, a part of me is sad to see these last remnants of my baby boy fade into memory.

So we move forward into the next chapter of raising this amazing little man who climbs trees, crashes cars and charms the hearts of all who meet him. Who knows what it will bring, but I'm so excited to be along for the ride!

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