On weaning.
November 28, 2011

Over the past few weeks, Charlotte has started to wean herself.  I think.  I suppose it’s possible that she’s just temporarily too busy to bother with milk and she’ll come back as enthusiastic a nursling as ever, but something tells me that our breastfeeding days are numbered.

Never having weaned a child before, I’m not exactly sure what that means.  Is she going to nurse tomorrow and never ask for milk again?  Or is she going to nurse every other day, then only twice a week, then only a few times a month, and call it quits quietly so that one day I look back and realize it’s been six months?  I don’t know.

I don’t know at all.

Naturally, when faced with this complete uncertainty I did what any nutcase mother with an entire weekend of husband-help would do: I googled weaning.

All that really taught me, though, is that weaning is a highly emotional process for most mothers.  But I’ll tell you what: when you’ve been breastfeeding for over two years, it’s just, you know, NOT THAT BIG A DEAL.  I’ll miss the closeness, of course, but I won’t miss mastitis and plugged ducts and sore nipples.  And I’ve got teeth scars (really) and postpartum breast stretchmarks to remind me of the breastfeeding bond, so I feel like we’re good to go.  Overall: not a big deal.

Except for one thing.

I never, not in a million years, thought I would wean Charlotte before we had given her a sibling.  My goal was to nurse for AT LEAST thirty months - two and a half years - and I assumed that by then we would have had a second baby.  That’s a lot of sex without birth control, and I simply didn’t have as much faith in nature’s family planning as I maybe should have.  I always thought that I would tandem nurse her with her sibling.  And when I was pregnant, for however short a time, that is what I thought about most.

This was a selfish thought, of course.  I had a very rough time getting started with breastfeeding and now that I’ve got the hang of things, I don’t want to start anew again.  Some women say it’s easier, other women say it’s harder, and I personally don’t want to find out.

So now here I am.  I know that I want to experience birth again and that if I experience birth again then I will have a squalling infant in my arms and breasts filled with milk and the natural choice for my family in this situation is for me to pop one of those suckers in that baby’s mouth.

But to experience birth again, I must become pregnant again, and you know what?  I don’t have a great track record right now.  Experiencing a healthy pregnancy right now still feels like my Aurora’s death is a blood price.  I paid for Charlotte with my first child’s blood, I pay for the next child with Aurora’s blood.  The fact that I still look at it this way tells me that I am not emotionally ready for another pregnancy.

This works out well because, frankly, right now I am throwing everything I have into our adoption.  I treat our adoption process like a pregnancy - gathering information, talking to other adoptive parents, preparing the house, volleying ideas and questions back and forth with my husband.  I have, in fact, for better or for worse, essentially cut all ties with people in our life who do not treat adoption with the same reverency and support as they do pregnancy.  So it feels very…okay…that I don’t want to conceive a child right now.  It feels…right.  Like it’s what is best for my family and best our child(ren) when they come home.

But waiting to conceive right now does mean that Charlotte will very likely have weaned herself before we bring another infant into the mix.

No other aspect of the weaning process really feels emotional at all.  But there are times when this thought feels overwhelming.

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  1. By Taryn on November 28, 2011

    I know what you mean about the underwhelmingness of weaning a toddler; we just hit the 22 month mark, are down to two feedings (both nighttime ones), and I gotta say that I wont be sad to see them go. I’m kinda looking forward to having my body all to myself again.

  2. By on November 28, 2011

    Sarah, as all children are individual, I think they all wean themselves differently. What made me saddest when my youngest weaned is that my life had moved into another phase, whether or not I was ready.  I was done birthing and nursing babies. 

    A thought I had about your adoption process: if things move quickly and if you should chance to adopt an infant, you might be able to nurse that child. Just a thought, keeping in mind that life is what happens while you are busy making plans.

    It just tears my heart to hear you say that Aurora’s life is a blood price you had to pay for another child. I am one who believes that very little happens for a reason. Your two miscarriages happened because of random biochemical events. You have nothing to pay for.  I wish you the best as you add to your family.

  3. By Sarah Christensen on November 28, 2011

    Mitzie - We’ve thought of that too, that perhaps if we adopt an infant I may be able to nurse.  We’ll see, of course, but for right now it looks like adopting through the foster care system might mean that nursing the child is off the table.  We were initially led to believe that it would be fine, but were recently told that nursing a child during the foster period (a minimum of six months before the adoption can be finalized) is illegal in California.

    I don’t have any idea what to think about that.

    I can also see how weaning our youngest will be more emotional.  I think that I will be much more emotional about milestones with our youngest.  With the first kid, it’s hard not to wonder what comes next!

  4. By Audrey on November 28, 2011

    As a Mother who has nursed three babies, it will be a big deal when she is finally done. I think it always is- whether you nurse for 10 months or 43 months. Such a connection that we share with our babies.

    I don’t need to say this because I am sure you already know it, but you are doing an amazing job.

  5. By Cindy A on November 28, 2011

    We are going through the same thing right now at 25 months, we are down to one maybe feeding a day.  Some days nothing.  I am okay with whatever Bailey needs, I have done this for her and her alone.  I will miss those times, and honestly they have changed over 25 months.  I think you have done such an amazing job and Charlotte will Thank you one day :)  <3

  6. By on November 28, 2011

    I think it’s so wonderful that you’re adopting.  Are you hoping to do international or domestic?

  7. By on November 28, 2011

    Does the California law specify “breastmilk” or nursing? Because until the adoption is finalized you could always pump & bottle feed, and then switch to nursing when it’s legal. What a silly law anyway…

  8. By Molly on November 28, 2011

    My Gracie just turned 2 and my baby is now 6 months (where has the time gone?), and I am tandem nursing. I cannot imagine Gracie ever stopping..ha! She’s an addict. I make her feed from the right breast and my baby Tatum on my left breast…but she much prefers “Brothers Milk.“ She calls is “Cake!“ Ha!!! Apparently baby’s milk is much better than Toddlers!
    Anyway, I’ve assumed that I’ll be nursing her til college, so this gives me hope that someday she will wean on her own:).

  9. By on November 28, 2011

    There really isn’t a lot of information out there about weaning toddlers.  We’re not there yet (18 months) but I’ve tried to read up about it some, and have to say I’ve been bewildered at the lack of info out there.  Or maybe I’m looking in the wrong place?

    I always assumed I’d get pregnant while nursing, and then taper off then, if I decided not to tandem nurse.  But, so far, not pregnant. 

    I love MC’s idea of pumping and bottle feeding, even as a stop-gap measure. 

    I am so impressed that you are able to look at how you are feeling and know that it means you are or aren’t ready for another pregnancy.  That is so important to acknowledge and follow.  And I hope this isn’t presumptuous or condescending.  My heart also hurt when I read the line about the blood price.  But I couldn’t help but think that that is what siblings do for the one another.  They give blood to each other.  And although it usually doesn’t cost the giver his/her life, the idea of a blood donation instead of a blood price resonates with me. 
    I’m not trying to change your ideas or decisions, just maybe trying to reframe things a bit.  Hope this wasn’t too clunky.

  10. By on November 29, 2011

    i know this has nothing to do with this post, but i love your new “about me” section ! and your hair has gotten so long ! pretty !

    i think being able to admit that you aren’t ready for an other pregnancy makes you stronger than you think.. admitting a weakness is so hard. it needs to be done to keep going, but still ! i know i don’t always have the courage to admit i’m not ready for something, not strong enough

    i can’t imagine the price, the heaviness of missing babies. all the time, every day. (HUG)

  11. By tara pollard pakosta on November 29, 2011

    I had a hard time with weaning, even though my daughter was just a week or two away from THREE years old! but still, I missed it. but she was ready, they know when they are ready….my niece nursed until she was SIX! now that I would not have wanted!
    I am so sorry that you haven’t been able to have another baby, but yOU WILL, however it happens, adoption or not. I just know you will! I wanted about 3-4 children, but I only have TWO, but you know, at 41, I am pretty dang happy with that!
    plus I didn’t realize the challenges that would come with my oldest high strung, anxiety ridden, OCD etc. so it’s a blessing I only had two at this point, that’s all I can handle!!
    much love to you and prayers too!

  12. By Laura Bishop on November 29, 2011


    Here’s my recent experience with weaning…

    Thought your readers would enjoy as well! :)





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