when to wean
TABLE OF CONTENTS
the first big transition
The day I took my daughter India to the pediatrician for her one-year check up, I decided to ask him about weaning her from breast-feeding. I gingerly asked the good doctor when he thought the appropriate age would be. He shrugged his shoulders impatiently and replied, “When? Whenever she wants.” Taken aback, I replied, “She could be 10 before she decides.” “So?” he answered. I knew then that I would have to figure it out myself. So here we are a year and three months later, and my beloved child is still nursing.
The process of weaning her has been challenging for us both. I had no idea it would be this hard or take this long; to date, weaning my daughter has lasted more than six months, with no end in sight. Pregnancy, childbirth and then latching her onto the breast were emotional breezes in comparison to weaning her. Nursing my daughter has been one of the single most beautiful things I have ever done in my life.
The simple intimacy we have shared staring into one another’s eyes during moments of her nursing has touched my soul. It is so sweet, so quiet, so pure and untainted, speaking thousands of words to each other without saying a thing. It’s been our way of building trust together, learning boundaries and revealing to each other the vastness of our souls through this simple act of giving and receiving.
Perhaps I am aggrandizing the basic act of a mother feeding her child; maybe, but I know the time of actually weaning her is nearing and a part of me is sad. Not to mention that she does not seem to want to stop either. Sometimes she asks me for “a cup of booby” as if it were afternoon tea; other times, she pleads, sobs and throws herself on the floor; sometimes she simply tricks me; then again, other times she pins me down on the bed as if we were in the ring at the world wrestling championship. Nursing her is cure-all; it is the ultimate jet lag, teething and tantrum cure. When she is sick, my breast is the perfect cold and flu remedy.
But sometimes I have visions of picking her up from third grade and her having breast milk and cookies for her after school snack. Then I remember that as beautiful as this time we have shared is, it is now time for closure in this part of our relationship. It is time to let go, grow and move on.
I would like to have another child, and I suppose I could tandem nurse, but to be honest, I would like to make my body my own again before I embark on the journey of baby number two. One might call me selfish, but I believe that I have created a strong foundation of health for her and have enjoyed almost every minute of it. I would like to wean her gracefully, and with some help from the lay mother and the professional, I have explored the possibilities. There is no one way or right way to do it. Just as every pregnancy, every birth and every child is unique, so are the ways in which we wean our children from our bosoms.
In a way, after the actual birth itself weaning is their first step toward cultivating their independence. I have tried removing one feeding at a time. I have tried explaining it to her and I have tried going away for a couple of days; and to be honest, nothing has made the process easier. And that’s okay; it’s just part of the process of letting go. Me of her, and her of me. Do I have a plan or an end date? No. But I can tell you that I have the intention to help India spread her wings, and to do it with love, compassion and patience and before she hits her 10th birthday. Wish me luck.
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