Around this time last year, I wrote about Ella UNweaning. This past year of tandem nursing (breastfeeding 2 children) has had it’s ups and downs. Ella had worked down to just having milk after breakfast each morning and if I’m being honest here, I was ready to be done. SO ready.
I tried simply redirecting, and distraction to no avail. It finally dawned on me that in all other areas of her life, Ella thrives on clear boundaries with obvious beginnings and endings. Trying to get her to “forget” about nursing every morning was laughable, especially with her little brother enjoying milk right in front of her.
So I threw her a weaning party.
The day before, we discussed what kind of cake she wanted and how to decorate it. We baked it, licked the batter bowl together, and she directed me with grandiose gestures how to adore her cake.
The next morning, at 6:30, we gathered around the kitchen table and sang “Happy Weaning Day To You” while she and I blew out the candles. Ella thoroughly enjoyed her cake for breakfast while I ate my slice with nostalgia and dashed with a few tears.
Since then, she’s only asked for milk once and that was with a giggling, silly face.
My little girl nursed for 37 months and from one stage to the next at her own pace.
Her chocolate cake with strawberries and blueberries and sprinkles and strawberries in the middle. Just how she likes it.
On March 14th of this year, Ella nursed for what I thought was the last time. During that moment, I had no idea that she would be completely weaned afterwords. She simply never insisted on nursing again and accepted the alternatives I offered (like snuggling). When I realized what had happened, it was a very bitter sweet moment. As much as it was a sweet bonding experience, I was glad she weaned on her own (due to lack of supply during pregnancy).
The last time we nursed, March 2009
Fast forward to about a week after Miles was born. She began to express interest in nursing and asking to “share nummies with baby”. I wasn’t really interested in nursing two children (who were different ages) but the last thing I wanted to do was create jealously over something as basic as nursing. So I agreed to let her nurse with Miles. The huge grin that broke across her face was amazing and the tender way she stroked his head while they nursed together affirmed my thought that unweaning would help ease the transition of having a sibling.
The road of tandem nursing hasn’t been always paved with golden bricks, though. I have very defined boundaries for Ella as to when she can or cannot nurse. It’s been a hard transition for her to know that Miles can have milk whenever he wants but she can’t. It’s hard for me to stand strong and stick to the boundaries but things get so much more stressful if I let her have free reign. It’s always so interesting to see how she thrives in an environment of age appropriate boundaries. But that’s another post for another day.
I honestly believe that rolling with the concept of unweaning cut down on a lot of potential sibling rivalry. When they both nurse together, Miles has been hardly able to contain his giggles while Ella rubs his head. Other times, she simply holds his hand or just looks at him while they “share nummies”. I feel this is aiding their sibling bonding. I also feel that when Ella nurses solo, it helps reaffirm that she is just as special and loved as Miles.