Weaning Frances

After nearly three years—1,074 days, to be exact—my middle gal is no longer nursing. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. There were times I wondered if she’d be going into kindergarten in two years still nursing and wearing diapers. At least now I only have to concern myself with potty training—a feat I’m not looking forward to on account of the fact that girlfriend in TERRIFIED of sitting on the toilet. Always has been.

Anyway, two weeks ago I had to drive back to Pennsylvania for my sister’s last-minute wedding. Since we had just been back for Easter weekend, I didn’t really want to make a second quick trip with ALL of the kids in tow. I thought I’d just take Rowan with me and have Liam stay behind with the girls. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to wean.

Up until that point, Frances had only been nursing one time before bed each evening. It was something she VERY much looked forward to. Often, she tried to tell me she was ready for bed at 7:30, even though she’d napped and likely wouldn’t be ready to fall asleep before 9. Most times I indulged her, because the look about her was pure joy—bright smile, wide eyes, excited limbs.

We’d go upstairs to nurse in bed, she’d do her thing, and then she’d proclaim in the most awake voice, “I’m not ready for bed, mama. I wanna go back downstairs.”  Uh-huh. Just as I suspected. A fake-out just to get her nursing on.

When I contemplated weaning, I wavered back and forth about whether or not it was time. She’s only doing it once a day. That’s not so bad. I mean, I could keep going. She loves it so much. And it’s still such an important connecting time for us given she’s such an attached and emotionally needy child, not to mention the continued health benefits.

But then, there’d be an evening when she wouldn’t fall asleep nursing. And I’d have to unlatch and disconnect her because I was done nursing. Then she would whine and yell and have her little tantrum, and I’d be all: OK. We need to be done. Like, yesterday.

The decision was made. I needed to be resolute. I talked to Frances the entire week before I left for PA. I explained what was going to happen when I went away and then after. She definitely understood. Some days she seemed to share in my excitement about her becoming a ‘big girl’; other days she went into Cranky Franky mode and exclaimed she was still a baby, and was NOT going to give up nursing, ever again.

I was a little emotional the night before my trip—the last night Frances nursed. She and I had been connected in this relationship for so long. However, any sadness I felt was NOTHING compared to the grief I felt when I nursed Nora for the last time at 20 months of age—a sure sign I wasn’t truly ready. However, I’d been four-and-a-half months pregnant with Frances and nursing was painful. I also hadn’t had the benefit of watching a fellow mama nurse throughout her pregnancy and then tandem breastfeed both her infant and toddler like I did when I was expecting Frances and had Candace (our old babysitter) in our lives. Had I an opportunity to do it all over again, I would have suffered through the pain to get to the other side.

Frances did great the weekend I was away. She didn’t ask to nurse once. (I’m assuming it’s because she knew there was no supply available from her father, despite the fact that he’s jokingly offered to nurse her many times in my place over the years. She never once took him up on his offer. Wise girl, that Frances). Liam did mention, however, that she was very clingy and wanted to be held the whole weekend. Likewise, I did fine in Pennsylvania. I had no residual sadness. Only fond memories. And relief, I might add, to just be nursing one child instead of two.

Since I’ve been back—almost two weeks now—Frances still has not asked to nurse or mentioned one time anything about our past experiences breastfeeding. She is very clingy and whiny though. More so than usual. And a little extra cranky, especially around bedtime. Now that we don’t have that special nighttime routine, she has small fits with me when I’m the one to put her to bed. She insists on lying on top of me in order to fall asleep. When Liam does bedtime, things go better for him. I imagine it will take some time for Frances to settle emotionally, even though she’s not vocalizing what she’s working through. I’m trying to be patient and extra sensitive—giving lots of hugs and cuddle time. I know this is what she needs, and not a neck-wringing like I’d sometimes like to do when the whining and tantrumming push me to a breaking point.

Our middle gal will be three in eight days. The last birthday of our birthday season. She may not be ready for little girl undies any time soon, but she reached her weaning milestone no problem. Go, you big brave girl, go!

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Weaning Frances

    1. Anne

      It’s always difficult weaning, no matter what the age or circumstance. I only nursed Aaron until 10 months. It was a difficult road & I didn’t have the right advocates or teachers to help me through issues that were preventable or correctable. I just made myself get to the nine- month marker for the majority of the health benefits & just at that point did the pain subside & I got the hang of it all. But then, I returned to work full time & couldn’t keep up with my supply. It was way too young for him, I think. But u can’t look back with regret….just look forward with experience. I was determined to nurse the next one longer & better educate myself. Evan was a completely different child and eater, always content & I never had any pain. The nursing experience was so very different. I wasn’t working, didn’t need to pump under pressure & could nurse until the timing was right to stop. By 1 year we had a good routine at night of 1 book, two songs & nursing before bed. I looked forward to that time of peace & quiet each night. I thought I’d have a good weaning plan when the time was right, some day in the future, but for then all was going well just as it was…until it all went out the window without any notice. At about 15 months, he fell asleep during the second song! Wait, should I wake him to feed him so he can go to sleep? Well, that didn’t make sence (at least not to Corey, I admit it made perfect sence to me at that moment)! Not a big deal, just skip that night. Then it happened the next night again & again. Wait I need to wake him up to nurse! How can he sleep without it! But that was it. He was done & never tried again…content with how things were. I was so sad & kept thinking, “Wait, but I’m not done!” I never forced the issue, and clearly the time was right for him. He’s been a well adjusted easy-going kid ever since.
      But I must admit that I’m so glad to have that time back again for one last go-round. I’m enjoying the peaceful moments & time to connect with Owen while it lasts!

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      1. powerskirstin Post author

        ❤️ Thanks for sharing your stories and experiences. I’m so glad you’ve got another go-round too! Hopefully we get to meet your littlest soon. Maybe this summer? Hugs!

        Like

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