Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weaning a Two Year Old

I'm back! Sorry I haven't posted much lately (it has been over two months!). My husband and I have just bought and moved into our first home :) We are so happy but it has been an exhausting process (totally worth it though). Now that we have furniture, plates, cookware, utensils, and other basic necessities, I can start getting back to normal. And that means back to blogging! Zel has loved being around so much family, but I feel like I have slacked off a little in the educational and creative activity department. We were living with my parents so most of my fun crafty stuff was shoved in the attic or deep in a closet. I feel like when I started the blog, I was a little more ambitious and tried to post at least 3 times per week. From now on I am going to aim for once a week and throw in some extra posts here and there if I have time.

We have lived in our new home for almost 3 weeks now and I felt like Zel was feeling comfortable living here. He stopped asking to go back to "Grandma and Papa's house" all the time and started saying that he wanted to go to his "new house." My husband has been trying to get me to wean Zel since his first birthday. Don't get me wrong, he supports breastfeeding and knows how great it is for Zel, but he also wanted his wife back too. I would have been happy to stop breastfeeding Zel at 12 months but he just wasn't ready. He still woke up many, many times a night and asked for it all day long. Fast forward a year and he was sleeping at night a lot better (only waking up once or twice) and taking good 2 hour naps. He only nursed in order to fall asleep or if he was sick and having a hard time during the day. For a while I didn't mind this. I knew it was good for him, and it was like having a secret weapon to make him feel better and/or sleep. However, it was starting to take a toll on me, physically and emotionally. I still got very tired during the day, like when he was a baby. I started to have a hard time letting other people touch me, whether it was other kids or even my husband.

About a week ago he was up early and had been nursing in bed with me for about an hour. He fell asleep for a few minutes then threw a fit when he woke up when I told him that we needed to take a break from nursing for the morning. At that moment I just knew that I couldn't do it anymore. My husband thought that it was time, but just made sure that it was really what I wanted to do because it wasn't going to work if I didn't really want to let go yet.

That night Zel spent the night with his grandparents so that we could have an adult celebration for my husband's 30th birthday. The next day when I picked him up, he was excited to see me but didn't ask to nurse. His Granny told me that he slept really well and it was the easiest night they had had with him at their house so far. I knew that I had to go with it, but bedtime at home was tough. If we didn't live so far away from our neighbors, they might have thought that their was some grisly stuff happening here. There was a lot of screaming. Eventually we gave up trying to get him to go to sleep at a reasonable time in his bed and let him stay up and watch television until he fell asleep. He slept the whole night in his own bed until 7am (first time ever!) The next night we stayed in bed but let him watch shows on the iPad. At 11pm when he was still awake I told him it was time to turn it off. He resisted but was so tired that he quickly fell asleep (with his hand in my shirt). When he woke up around 4am, he put his hand in my shirt and fell back asleep quickly and without any tears.

The third night was the worst. I knew that we had to stop the TV watching at bed time or it would just be another habit to break later. There was a lot of crying and screaming; Zel kept trying to hit us too. Eventually he was too tired to fight and he laid with his hand in my shirt saying "I want to nurse" until he fell asleep. It was really heartbreaking for me. I wanted to just let him nurse and stop his tears but I knew that everything else we did would be in vain and that I would regret giving in.

The next night was a total transformation. We got ready for bed without a complaint: did puzzles, read books, brushed teeth, got into jammies, and got tucked into bed by Daddy. After Daddy left the room, Zel asked to watch videos on my phone. I told him that we weren't going to watch anything but we could listen to music. He asked to listen to "Big Jack," his name for the bonus songs from the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. He laid in bed calmly (still with his hand in my shirt) and fell asleep after about 5 songs. The next night it only took 4 songs and there was no resistance at all.

What made part of this process easier was that Zel had mostly stopped taking naps, so I only had to deal with weaning at night. My husband was a big supporter too. He helped a lot on those first few difficult nights. When he was comforting Zel, he was also rubbing my back and comforting me too. He even looked up what changes I might experience so that he could be prepared to help me, physically or emotionally.

Luckily, I never felt sore or swollen at all. I did, however, have times where I felt very sad and longed for the time when I could have that closeness with my son. What made that even harder for me is that Zel seemed to ask for his Daddy more once the weaning started. I was happy that he could find more comfort in his Dad, but still missed always being number 1.

I never how hard it would be to know that he is growing up and needing me less and less. But I know that no matter what happens or how old he is, I will always be his Mommy.