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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Weaning gripes. I'm not a crunchy granola or a Time Magazine mom - Weaning is really hard!

Like a lot of Moms these days, the decision to nurse my children was a no-brainer. We've learned that mother's milk provides the greatest nutritional benefit to our children, additionally it's the ideal way to secure healthy attachment with our infants. I've been trying to wean my now 14 month old for more than 60 days, and it's really, really hard. I've done the reading, the research and frankly I'm having limited success getting baby girl to detach and unlatch. What was once a special declaration of motherly love and our natural bond has become a bit of a burden.

I lasted 12 months breastfeeding my first born son without a hiccup or a sore nipple. It was easy-peesy. Weaning him was of course laborious, but nothing to cry about. I introduced him to whole milk in a sippy cup after his first birthday and two months later he was off the boob for good. This time around has been a different ballgame. By 6 months I was exhausted from trying to keep up with my daughter's nursing needs and began to sparingly supplement with formula. I was too tired to feel guilty. Soon I was starting to countdown the days until Nikke turned one year old - our cutoff point. It felt good that my milk provided both solace and sustenance to my little one, even so much that I included it in my ode to lovable babies in this post; But, the time and toll it was taking on my body and frayed nerves was hard to ignore. I loved her little palm playing with my necklace or stroking my cheek as she fed, but soon that developed into pulling at my shirt and taking "nip nips". So when that 365th day of life arrived and I presented her with a cup full of ice cold milk I thought it'd be smooth sailing. Absolutely wrong! She spit it out with disgust. She had zero interest in store brought dairy, she wanted the good stuff straight from mama bear. I've tried Almond and Coconut milk hoping that might pique her taste buds; "perhaps she's a budding vegan" I thought. Still no go, and though we've cut back significantly thanks to ice water, yogurt and string cheese, nothing seems to sate and soothe during rough times like my supply. So now I find myself with a toddler who won't let go. I try to stick to my guns and let her cry it out at bedtime or when she's especially crabby, but winning a test of will against a toddler is harder than it sounds. Who wins the daily battle is almost always a toss up. 

For now I' m fluctuating between the "don't offer, don't refuse" method and simply hiding from her. I feel bad about wanting to wean so strongly, then I feel bad for feeling bad. My veteran Mom friends and online supporters say to heed to Nikke's resistance. Maybe she's just not ready? I was settling into the idea of nursing a little bit longer, but then the naysayers began to chime in. Some friends and family members have surprised me with averse reaction to breastfeeding my new toddler. I've heard lots of mumbling about TIME Magazine's cover story from a while back. Of course the salacious article title "Are You Mom Enough" and edgy cover photo incited a ShoMommy response which you can read in this post, When criticism comes my way I state the medical facts, "The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond." Breastfeeding a bigger baby does not make me a pervert!

I'm not sure when my weaning attempts will stick, or if Morenikke and I will both continue to "suck" at this painful process. But, I have decided that it will be our journey together. I hope to not feel pressured to fit into society's idea of what is or isn't "normal", our physical and mental health is what matters most. Don't worry I'll keep you posted. Might even post a video of her drinking something other than mama milk and me doing the happy dance in the background when we get to the other side of this arduous undertaking. Please share you thoughts and experiences in the comment section. I'd love to know I'm not the only one who's struggled through this.

For more information on breastfeeding and weaning visit: