Posts Tagged ‘weaning’

I was bored and hot on Sunday in church and letting my mind wander, when I spotted a family across the aisle and a few rows in front of us.  The two older daughters looked to be in their early teens and very close in age, and were sitting on either side of their mother.  Their sister was considerably younger, probably four or five, and she was sitting on her daddy’s lap, her head curled into his shoulder and looking as bored as I felt.

Ah, the magic third — a term that a dear friend of mine had used to describe that third child who so often comes as a complete surprise to the parents and some considerable years after their more carefully-planned older siblings.  Except that my friend had made a Freudian slip as she spoke, and it had come out as “the magic turd”, which has had me quietly snorting with laughter ever since.

But as I looked at that father holding his daughter, and noted her long legs nearly reaching his ankles and the way her body slumped down to fit against his, I  thought to myself that he won’t be doing that for much longer — holding her on his lap like that.  She was nearly past that age, as her sisters had been for a long time now.

And then a thought occurred to me…  I wondered when was the last time he’d held his other daughters on his lap, and did he remember the last time?  One day he would have held them and it would have felt as natural as it did with his third now, but then it just wouldn’t have happened again… quite naturally.  And, I wondered, did he ever notice?

Because parenthood is circular.  Even though it is the firsts that get all the attention — the first step, the first smile, the first word — the lasts are just as significant, even if they go unnoticed.

I cried the last time I breastfed E1 — sobbed, in fact.  It broke my heart to do it, but I was five months pregnant and it had got to be too much, the way she threw herself with abandon onto the bump when it was time to latch on, the energy she was draining from my exhausted body — and she’d recently begun to bite.  The midwife had told me that older nurslings often self-wean anyway as the milk begins to change for the baby that is coming, so I decided it didn’t matter much if I took matters into my own hands and helped her wean a few months early.  It’s a decision I regretted ever since — not only because I’ve since learned that it is possible to nurse two children in tandem, but also because, immediately I weaned her, my ever-healthy daughter came down with one of the nastiest colds I’ve ever known.  She then passed it onto me and, with my body focused on protecting the unborn child inside me, everything above the bump was left to fend for itself.  Unmedicated, one night the infection moved to my ears and, within a couple of hours, the pressure was so great that it tore holes in both of my eardrums — the loudest sound no one ever heard — and my hearing has never been the same since.

But I digress.  At two-and-a-half, E2 is still breastfeeding and going strong.  And, given her severely restricted diet, that is a very good thing.  My plan is to let her feed until she is ready to stop, and I don’t really care when that is.  Never having done child-led weaning, I’m not quite sure how it will go, but I assume her feedings will gradually begin to grow further and further apart until they just quietly cease.  And like the last nappy change, the last night feed, the last kissed boo-boo, and the last time she sits on my lap, I won’t even realise it’s happened.

And then one day, I will.  And then I will cry.


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My daughter is three years old and she still drinks her milk from a bottle. I know this is a Bad Thing, but up to this point, I really didn’t care. Dealing with all of E2’s food and sleep issues took so much of my time and energy that I was happy to let the bottle-battle slide until I had more resources to tackle it.

But the time has come. E2 is vastly improved now that we have cut her allergens out of my diet, and she is finally finally finally giving me some good nights’ sleep — at least three times a week now, I get as much as five or six (or occasionally seven!) hours in a row. But more than that is the fact that I am embarrassed that E1 is still drinking from a bottle. She is big for her age — she was in clothes for four year olds when she was only two — and people assume she’s older than she is. So it looks really quite wrong to see her with a bottle stuck in her mouth. It’s time.

Her bottle is more than a mere container to her, though — it’s a habit …and a comfort. It’s what she’s been doing for as long as she can remember, and she is very very attached to it. The first time I offered her milk in a sippy cup several months ago, her reaction stunned me. She was beside herself — wracked with sobs and actually panicking at this unexpected change. There was nothing I could do to console her — and I tried everything in my repertoire — except to back off and let her have her bottle again, which is what I eventually did. And all subsequent attempts got no further.

But yesterday, walking around the county fair, I was embarrassed. People were staring at my daughter — people wearing clothes that gave damning testimony to their own sense of appropriateness were staring at my daughter …and then shifting their contemptuous gazes to me. “Drink it! Drink it quick!” I hissed over the back of the pushchair, as I hunted for a less conspicuous area to duck into until the offending bottle could be hidden away again. We left the fair with my maternal pride dented and my resolve renewed.

She had her first-thing milk this morning in a bottle, as usual — no sense in trying to start this off when she’s sleepy to boot — but I explained that her next milk would be in a cup, like Mummy’s drinks are. “No cup,” she said with calm determination. I explained it several more times as the morning when on, and her reply never changed, “No cup.” I lifted my eyes to the heavens as my heart sank through the floor — I did not want the fight.

What was I going to do to make this work? How was I going to get round her resistance? I could forsee only another fruitless battle of wills, when I suddenly had an idea. “Shoes on, girls!” I called out, and they looked up from their toys, perplexed. “I fancy a coffee,” I explained, as I bundled them in the car and began madly clicking their seatbelts into place. As I backed out of the garage, I could see their faces in the rearview mirror, pictures of complete confusion at their mother’s sudden burst of activity.

At the coffee shop, I asked for my decaf in a paper cup with a no-spill lid, and then settled us down at a table. “Mmmmm…” I said dramatically, as I took a sip through the tiny hole in the lid. “Mummy’s coffee in a cup!” I reached into my bag. “A cup just like your milk!” I said with lashings of enthusiasm and a lot of nervous hope. She looked at the sippy cup I produced with a stony expression, and then at my cup, and then up at my face. Ah, she got it now — Mummy wastrying to be clever but she’d been sussed, and E1 wasn’t best pleased.

I felt the tide turning, so I quickly pulled out the second line of attack: a piece of her favourite fruit leather. She brightened immediately, and I tore off a small piece and handed it to her. “No!” she exclaimed with a look of horror. “Don’t tear it! Let me have it!” What on earth was Mummy thinking, feeding her little pieces like that?

But I’m no fool. “Drink your milk first,” I said, and watched her weigh up the options. Then she picked up the sippy cup and took a good drink. She put the cup down, held out her hand, and I deposited a small square of fruit. She protested again that she wanted the whole thing, but I stood firm and, before long, we settled into a nice rhythm: milk, fruit, milk fruit… I occasionally pointed out with glee that we were both drinking from cups and her enthusiasm grew. Eventually she broke into a wide milky grin despite herself, dribbling a bit onto her dress. We were both enjoying this now, and she was downright excited by the time we got in the car to come home. “Mummy, we had coffee together!” I was just as pleased, and it showed as I praised her profusely: Yes, my dear, we certainly did!

When I woke her from her nap later in the afternoon, her first words were, “No cup. Milk in a bottle!” She protested at first when I told her it was in a cup, and then gave up, happier to do without it altogether than to drink it from a cup again. At dinner, I quietly put the sippy cup on the table and we both carefully ignored it all through the meal.

And then, after dinner, she picked it up and began drinking — and carried on drinking (with the occasional prompting) until it was done. Just like that. I praised her more casually this time — as if this was exactly what I’d expected all along — but, inside, I was over the moon.

So now, three cups and one bottle are filled and in the fridge, ready for tomorrow. No doubt there will be more battles before this is finally over, but today was a good start — a better start than I’d expected. And hey, if it takes me going to the coffee shop for a nice relaxed cuppa with my daughters every single day, that’ll be just fine too.

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Today I am grateful for:

  1. Considerate friends — really considerate friends who surprise us with their thoughtfulness.
  2. Having my mother willing, able, and nearby to babysit, so we can walk up to the bar to celebrate important days!
  3. E2’s first ever night of going down to sleep without me feeding her down — the first ever time in nearly 17 months. I am grateful…. shocked… stunned… chuffed… delighted… disbelieving… and ever so slightly gutted.

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