My Almost 3 Year Old is Weaning

My Almost 3 Year Old Is Weaning CradleRockingMama.com

“If the kid is old enough to ask for it, they’re too old to be nursing.”

“Look, I’m all for breast feeding, but it’s just creepy when the kid isn’t a baby any more.”

“That’s just…wrong!”

We’ve all heard those comments about extended breast feeding. In America today, breast feeding a child past 12 months is generally considered skeevy and obscene.

People are entitled to believe what they want…even when they’re wrong. The WHO recommends breast feeding for three years, because mothers milk is so powerful and healthy for our children.

In my case, even with the WHO recommendation, I don’t know that I would have continued to nurse Zac until his third birthday – had I not had to.

However, FPIES meant he had no other source of food. He didn’t get his first safe food until he was 17 months old, and he reacted to every formula we ever tried on him.

For my son, breast feeding for as long as possible was, quite literally, a matter of life or death.

From the beginning, I said that I would nurse Zac as long as he needed it. The goal with Zac was always “Zac-led weaning”, though I’d hoped to make it til at least his 3rd birthday.

Normal people would look at me askance when I told them the plan; they’d ask things like “but what if he still wants to nurse when he’s 5?”

“Then I will still nurse him when he’s 5.” I would reply.

People not in our odd situation just didn’t understand. Not only did my son desperately need my breast milk to stay alive for far longer than typical babies do, but he can tolerate no pain medication (thus far).

Nursing is the only pain relief he has.

If he still needs to comfort nurse because he is hurting, as his mother, I can’t bring myself to take that away from him.

While I would happily nurse Zac for many more years, I’ve been dealing with the growing realization the last two months that my precious Zac is slowly weaning.

Ever since I returned to work, I exclusively pump on enough days of the month to get an idea of how my supply is doing. Of course, the pump isn’t nearly as efficient as the child is, so I don’t ever say “Oh, I’m making X amount of milk per day” based on my pumping output. But it gives me a general idea.

When I started pumping at work last year, I easily got 3-4 ounces every 4 hours. By last fall, I was getting 3 ounces every 6 hours. By January, it was 2 ounces every 8 hours.

Starting around the beginning of March, I only got 1 ounce every 12 hours.

The last two times I’ve gone to work, I’ve only come home with 2 ounces total milk after 4 DAYS.

Like I said, though, the pump doesn’t fully indicate supply. I haven’t been stressing over the reduction. After all, he IS almost 3 years old. A reduction in supply is probably expected and fairly normal.

And he is still nursing.

However.

The sad signs of weaning aren’t from my reduced pumping output. The sad signs of weaning are from my son.

Thanks to the lost bag and the ensuing iPhone debacle, I lost ALL my nursing records for Zac since June 2013. Even without seeing those records, though, I know that he suddenly stopped nursing as often towards the end of February/beginning of March.

Prior to that he nursed every 2 hours throughout the day and at least twice during the night. Yes, my two and a half year old son was still nursing at almost a newborn schedule. Thank you, FPIES.

Suddenly he was occasionally sleeping through the night with no nursings, and would skip one or two nursings throughout the day.

By a month ago, he was down to nursing only 4-5 times during the day. Last week, he was nursing only once or twice during the day.

Even more sad for me is that occasionally he would finish nursing at bedtime, and instead of falling asleep as usual, would ask for a bottle of goat milk. 

He started telling me that sometimes he didn’t get enough when he nursed.

Sigh.

This is sad for me. Most people probably won’t understand this, but I LOVE nursing. I loved nursing Jed and I love nursing Zac. The majority of my 30’s has been spent either pregnant or nursing. It’s become normal for me. Beyond that, though, I love the comfort and bonding I have with my sons when I nurse.

Since Zac is the last child I will likely ever have, when he weans completely, that’s the end of nursing for me. The thought of that makes me feel a little heartbroken.

On a more practical level, though, it’s been messing with my weight, which is giving me anxiety that I wouldn’t have imagined. Without the calorie burning effects of breast feeding, my body wants to pack on some pounds.

My whole adult life, I was fat. Obese. Going on the TED for Zac caused a drastic 63 pound weight loss for me, which has held steady for almost two and a half years.

Until two months ago, when I suddenly packed on 8 pounds seemingly overnight.

My size 4’s didn’t fit any more. I had to go up to my size 6’s.

My previously obese self would have raised a lip in disgust at some Skinny-Mini freaking out over an 8 pound/single dress size weight gain. I know exactly what I would have thought: “What on earth is she complaining about? She doesn’t know what fat is!”

Except, I DO know what fat is for me. And I remember how my obesity snuck up on me. I didn’t get fat overnight. I got fat 5 pounds at a time.

So that 8 pounds officially freaked me out.

I struggled to lose weight for years; now that I finally am at a size and shape I’m content with, I don’t want to lose it.

I’ve managed to lose 5 of those unwanted pounds, but I’m still 3 pounds heavier than I’d like.

Three pounds.

Its sounds like nothing. But it makes my clothes fit juuusst  tight enough to be mildly uncomfortable.

I’ll keep working at it, and if I can’t lose that three pounds, I will accept it. (I’ll do everything I can to keep from gaining MORE, though!)

On the plus side of weight (ha ha), Zac is steadily holding at almost 31 pounds now! That’s the heaviest he’s ever been, so any concerns I might have had about weaning are clearly unjustified.

Breast feeding or not, my son seems to finally be able to hold his own. We’ve obviously, blessedly, reached the point where Zac can stay alive without nursing.

And for that, I’m eternally grateful.


Did you do extended breast feeding? Were you heartbroken or relieved when your child finally weaned?

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10 Responses to My Almost 3 Year Old is Weaning

  1. Gina Foster says:

    Tears just rolled down my cheeks reading this. A flood of emotions just came back. I have four boys, and I nursed them all for different lengths of time. With the three oldest averaging out to be about 15 months. My littlest guy is my FPIES guy, and I nursed him for 26 months. He too nursed on a newborns schedule. He nursed every two hours during the day and night! He would often nurse more than that even. I believe most of the time it was just for pure comfort from all of his belly pain.

    I hadn’t had an opinion on breastfeeding time lengths prior to having kids. Even when I had my first, I just told myself to continue nursing him until he doesn’t want or need to any longer. It worked well for me, so I continued with each subsequent babies. It has always been emotional for me when they weaned, but with this last little guy, it hit me hard! I believe it was so emotional for many reasons. And it wasn’t very gradual. It was almost cold turkey, so no time to prepare myself.

    You are not alone in your “grief”. I also packed on some unwanted weight, so you aren’t alone with that either. And you are a wonderful mommy for supplying your child with what he needed to grow and be healthy! Whether it came from your breast or a bottle, or from a can. Great job Mommy!

    • Carrie says:

      Wow, Gina! Four boys! You are so blessed. 🙂

      That newborn nursing schedule for so long really drains you, doesn’t it? You’re awesome for doing what you did for all your boys. You’re absolutely right about the “breast, bottle or can” part. Whatever is best for the child is all that matters.

      Anyway, I’m glad to know I’m not alone…in the grief, the dedication, or the weight. 😉 Hugs, mama!

  2. Jess says:

    I nursed my first for two years. Just cause it’s good for them, developmentally, emotionally. I weaned her but she stilled liked to hold the boo at bedtime till she was almost five. Maybe not the best choice, but she grew out of it. My second possibly has FPIES. She’s 9mos and is still nursing like a newborn. I haven’t given her solid food other than Neocate Nutra since Feburary. She 18lbs, 28 inches long, thriving and not vomiting or going into shock, yay!!!! I wasn’t planning on nursing two years again, but it looks like I’m in for the long haul again and I’m okay with that! If keeps her alive and thriving then that’s what I’ll do for as long as she needs it, anyone who questions it will get an ear full.

    • Carrie says:

      Jess, you rock! I’m so happy to hear your little bit is thriving. You are doing a great job! And oh, yes, anyone who has given me the stink eye does get an ear full. 😉 Fortunately, I haven’t had that happen too often. Most people just judge quietly and aren’t bold enough to say anything to someone’s face. Unfortunately, I still hear comments made about other moms when I’m not actively nursing, and I know what they would/do say about me if they knew I was nursing a child older than the one they were referring to! Ugh. Don’t let anyone ever discourage you…not that I think you would. 😉

  3. julie s says:

    I love your blog. My LO is 25 months and recently tells me it’s empty when he nurses awhile. I guess there is not much else to say. It makes me sad too. Fpies and nurses like a newborn too.

  4. rpcvmama27 says:

    Our daughter is just now 2 (as of about 2 weeks ago). We are still nursing on demand. She is starting to show some signs of weaning though. We still nurse allllllll night long though. I haven’t slept through the night fully in over 2 years. I thank almond milk for the impact on weaning though, as finally having something safe for her has made a world of difference for the day time nursing. I love nursing too, but unlike you, it hasn’t made any impact on my weight. I’m just as big now as I was in the beginning… I think because I’m eating off her safe list (starch heavy!) it makes it harder for me. I think weaning would be good for me diet wise, as I could start eating healthier.

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  6. Rebecca says:

    I didn’t get to nurse either of my babies as long as I would have liked… Insert personal information here… so I am completely behind you in the grieving for the end of nursing… No matter how long you had that time. It’s arguably one of the most primal things women ever do and has a power to it that a lot of people never understand. As for the 3 pounds… I don’t think people who have never been obese “get it” the way you always will. It’s not superficial… It’s a matter of health and body wellness. Do some research on fat cells. We have a certain number and as we gain weight, each cell gets bigger (as opposed to new cells forming) EXCEPT for the obese… A weight gain of approx. 100 pounds in a year, give or take, forces the body to make more fat cells. Which means the formerly obese are always closer to gaining weight than everyone else. You (probably) have more fat cells than you did as a kid, meaning your body is primed to bulk up. Obsess away! As long as you know you were beautiful at any weight – I think of you as a Marilyn Monroe – plump or skinny, you have a beauty that shines through any weight!

    • Carrie says:

      Rebecca, you are SO sweet and awesome! It’s funny; I just told Darrel that for the first time in my life, I don’t really care about ‘looking good’…now that I finally DO look good! My feeling of worth and beauty now comes strictly from how valuable I am to my family and what good I do for them. So even if I do gain weight again, I will still feel valuable and beautiful (though I won’t be happy about the weight…does that make sense?)

      Interesting to know about the extra fat cells, too. That makes me more determined to be vigilant than I already was.

      By the way, you do know the same truth about yourself, right? ‘Cause YOU are GORGEOUS!

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