I never really gave self-weaning much thought. I never knew anyone who it had happened to, nor did it happen with my first 2 sons. Oh I’m sure it happens quite frequently, a quick search on Google confirms it. But I was absolutely certain that it would not happen with my Baby Bear. But last week when I snuggled into bed with him for a nice long feeding, he refused.
Baby Bear and I had troubles with breastfeeding almost since the very start. He was born 4 weeks early (borderline premature), but showed he was quite a rigorous eater when I nursed him a few minutes after his birth. His rigor however began to decline (as it does with most sleepy newborns) and I had to supplement him to prevent my little 5lb baby from losing anymore weight. Thankfully, he began to gain more strength and my milk came in so that by day 5 I was breastfeeding him exclusively.
A few weeks later, Baby Bear began to show signs of colic. Normally nursing would help to calm a baby down, but for Baby Bear it just added to his woes. It turns out that my let down was so forceful that it would choke Baby Bear and cause him to swallow a lot of air. As a result, he would only drink fore milk (which has a laxative effect) and a bunch of air. So when I thought I was soothing him, all I gave him was a crampy, gassy tummy.
The lactation nurse helped me to find the best way to feed Baby Bear (block feeding) and soon we were on our way to a happy nursing experience…or so I thought.
Although Baby Bear was able to finally nurse without getting a tummy-ache, we still had our troubles. He was easily distracted and it was exhausting trying to keep him focused on nursing ( my nosy toddler didn’t help either). In fact was so exhausting that I had even made a few attempts to wean him by giving him a bottle and cup. He of course refused it wholeheartedly.
So I made peace with the fact that my very clingy and fussy baby was going to nurse well past his first year.
Then last Monday the unthinkable happened…he pushed me away. Hmmm, maybe he heard Jack-the-Bear and got distracted.
I tried again. Still pushed me away and arched his back. I left it alone thinking that I would try again later. I finally did get him to nurse when he was still groggy from his nap. Good, we can put this nonsense behind us.
But he did it again as I went to nurse him for bedtime. My heart broke. I knew it was something serious now.
I cried thinking that I had done something wrong. Perhaps he felt my exhaustion and frustration, but most likely it was his gums that had been swollen and irritated for weeks that made him wean early. Either way, my heart ached.
The next day I managed to convince him to nurse one last time. I knew it was going to be the last as he was now getting upset every time I brought him close to my bare breast.
I snuggled him closely.
I sang to him sweet lullabies the entire time.
I gave him lots of kisses and caresses.
And then he was finished.