I am about to reveal the answer to one of lifes great mysteries, up there with how to cure the common cold. Now I'm not saying I'm genius or revolutionary but if you feel like giving me a parenting award, I would humbly accept.
Until 2 weeks ago, I had been breastfeeding a person for over 3.5 years. Coraline was exclusively breast fed until she was 2 years old. This means we were extended breastfeeding, because in the United States nursing your baby after the age of 1 isn't the norm. It felt normal and natural to me, I never really thought about weaning Coraline until she was closer to 2 years old. Somewhere between those times, I was pregnant with Arya. Coraline nursed the entire time. Nursing while pregnant is another patch I can sew onto my crunchy granola mama sash. It's not easy. For some mothers, the milk dries up during the pregnancy but children will continue to nurse for comfort. My milk did not dry up, because I make too much anyway. Then Arya was born and she nursed as a newborn does: all the time. Another patch on my shash because now I was tandem nursing a toddler and a newborn. If you aren't counting that pretty much completes the set of breastfeeding patches you can get (ok seriously, i'm going to make these patches because that is a good idea)... Breastfed baby from birth,nursing on demand, extended breastfeeding, nursing through pregnancy, tandem nursing. We can talk about a boob job in another post.
I eventually had to cut Coraline off cold turkey, a month or so after Arya was born. Coraline was 2 and wanted to nurse every time her newborn sister nursed, it was not good for me. I knew Cora was nursing for comfort, not nourishment, the time felt right. She was sad for that moment and only asked once after that first "NO". It was proof that it was time.
Which brings me to now. Arya is 18 months old, which is already into extended breastfeeding territory here in the United States. I was starting to loose the comfort feeling while nursing, she has never been as loving a nursling as Coraline. Arya has always been nursing to eat and then done. If she wanted to cuddle she would cuddle without breastfeeding. She never relied on nursing to go to sleep. I knew she didn't need it. I began to think about weaning...oh shit, i have no idea how to do that.
I have no willpower when it comes to upsetting my kids. Yes, I can enforce rules and put my foot down when it comes to things like jumping on the bed or pulling your sisters hair. Totally different story when it comes to not letting them have breast milk. I thought about what my plan of action would be for months and months, never committing or implementing anything. It was then that a miracle struck and this miracle might change lives. Vacation.
My Mother and Aunt took both girls for an entire week to Disneyworld. This was all months in the works, JP and I heading to California for my best friends wedding and the girls off on a whirlwind adventure of their own. The long term effects fo this trip are not just a new found love for Mickey and Minnie, Arya came home completely weaned and I didn't hear one cry or protest. Awesome? I am sure some might not think so but I think it is. Here is the quick rundown:
Arya went cold turkey. I nursed her before we left her with family and that was it.
Her first night away was pretty bad, no one slept.
After that first night, she was fine.
I had to pump a few time while on vacation but after that it worked itself out.
When we were reunited after a week, Arya asked only once or twice to nurse, she was fine with my saying no.
Arya now eats non stop.
I took this picture at Franklin Park Zoo here in Boston. It's a nice reminder that nursing is natural and healthy and beautiful. I knew Arya and I would end our nursing relationship soon, it all worked out well for us. That being said, there is nothing wrong with nursing as long as you want. If you still find joy from that relationship, no matter the age of your child, don't feel a rush to wean. If however, like me, you feel that your nursing relationship is no longer bringing you that delight and bonding, don't be afraid to go on vacation.