Weaning a Toddler from Nursing, Our Experience

    My son turned 3 a few day ago and, for months we've told him he wouldn't nurse after his 3rd birthday.
    His 3rd birthday was on Thursday. On Friday he nursed upon awakening at dawn... call it habit, call it failure, call it being half awake and in a vulnerable state! At nap time I let him nurse again. Nap time has been our last cherished nursing time for some time; I successfully weaned him off nighttime nursing a few months back.
    Weaning him off nighttime nursing was hard. 

    It involved listening to the person I love most cry, beg, scream and whine. Every mother is different but I believe no mother likes hearing her child cry. Hearing my baby cry makes me feel helpless, guilty, sad and anxious. But it may be part of weaning!
    Author's Note: I got some great feedback from La Leche Legue members on this blog post. One woman stated her kids weaned without crying or much difficulty at all. So, every kid is different! Hopefully your weaning experience will go smoother than did mine!
    If I could snap my fingers and become 'tougher' I would; being so sensitive to my child's feelings isn't necessarily good or productive for him or me. 
    Just last night at dinner, I asked my husband if he thought I hadn't done a good job raising our kid.
    This question was prompted by the fact our son doesn't feed himself very well yet. Don't get that confused with not being a good eater, he's a great eater, as long as I'm shoveling the food in his mouth, in perfectly healthful-balanced-bites! And I like feeding him. I love seeing him eat; knowing he's healthy and growing makes me feel secure.
    But now 'he's 3' and by God he should be feeding himself (some sarcasm here)! I felt badly last night when we were out for dinner knowing that, somewhere along the line, I missed the boat on teaching my kid to feed himself! It's something I hadn't ever thought about, teaching him to feed himself; I've always just been proud he's a good eater. It's in my nature to nurture my baby, and now that he's a big boy I've been informed by the world that, at times, I'm not only nurturing, but babying, my son.

    This is something I'm working on but it's hard. It's hard on our family. I feel extra-sensitive and wasn't prepared for all of these realizations at this stage of the game! So if you feel the same, you're not alone. It gets easier!

Men Can't Fully Comprehend the Weaning Process.
   After I told my husband last night (Friday) I hadn't met our goal of 'no more nursing' he and I agreed to try again today (a Saturday) to start stop-nursing since he'd be home from work... for moral support.
    Moral support from a man on stop-nursing day, ha, that's funny isn't it?
    Sure he tried to be supportive but I don't believe he knew what he had bargained for... he had signed on to deal with an emotional, and at times seemingly-crazed, mother and a toddler that screamed for quite some time at his would-be nap time. I'm particularly sensitive to hearing my kid scream and/or cry so this was a very challenging day. I felt angry at my husband for being unable to comprehend the complex emotions at play here, for my son and me. It's O.K. though. I understand he's the father (and a great one) and his role is different than mine.
    My baby, our baby, is growing up. 

    It's like a ton of bricks has hit me and, it's not 'easy.' This will pass and maybe I needed my partner to remind me of that. Maybe I needed him to say, "I know this has to be so hard on you two and I'm here for you," rather than chastising me last night at dinner saying, "At this rate he'll be nursing until he's 10."
    Maybe he thought and thinks those comments are humorous but they're not.
    My big boy/baby cried and cried laying with me this afternoon, begging to nurse. He was exhausted. There in my dark bedroom I hugged and consoled him, telling him I'd always be there for him, "Siempre voy a estar aquí para ti mi amor, Soy tu mamá y te amo mucho. Nunca te voy a dejar sólo," I told him and meant it from the bottom of my heart. Finally I lay him on top of me, all 30 lbs. of him. I patted his back, stayed calm, breathed and, he fell asleep.
    I know I'm doing the right thing for my son, helping him grow up, helping him become more independent. But I didn't know this was all part of being a mom and I didn't know it'd be so hard.          

   When he was born I worked so hard to teach him to nurse and I succeeded. 
Nurturing my baby in that way felt much more natural to me than does this- teaching my baby to not-nurse. 

    My nature, as a mom, is to nurture and even 'baby' my kid at times.
    But by God being a mom is so much more than that. I know this now, first-hand, and am sure that, along the journey there will be many more interesting and unanticipated surprises.

My big boy, Sam!

Footnote- It's one week later than when I wrote this blog and we are all in a better place now. We're getting accustomed to our new schedule since my son has abandoned his afternoon naps (except for one day this week) but, we're well, making progress! 
It's actually a + for us that he quit napping since now, he goes to bed around 8:30 p.m. instead of around 11:00 p.m.!

Helpful Links: