[I'm going through drafts today and trying to write/complete some of the post that have been hanging out in that folder for months. I need to be more disciplined about doing that more. This is one I started and shelved for various reasons.]
Now that Graves has been weaned for a few months, I wanted to share my feelings on it. I kind of put this post off because November was such a draining month emotionally and I was scared to write a post I thought would be hard. And then I filled up December with Christmas posts and January with new year ones. I just didn't have the time to give it what it deserved. Now that I'm writing it, it doesn't seem like a big deal on either front, though. Anyway, logistics first and then emotions.
Graves really self-weaned, I feel like. I'll write a whole post on this, but I was not going to do it indefinitely. I felt like we'd get to a point where it was outside my comfort level. Happily, he beat me to it. When he turned one, Peyton and I discussed this and Peyton looked me in the eye and said to me, in all seriousness, "Sweetie. I think he still needs it....emotionally". I cannot tell you the relief I felt, knowing we were SO on the same page. Because at that point, he did need it. It was pretty obvious. It soothed him like nothing else and I could nurse him down off a ledge from even his most inconsolable moments. I specifically remember a dinner at a nice-ish restaurant we took him to (mistake number one) when he was fussy (mistake number two) and it was too close to bedtime (mistake number three). All in all, *we* screwed up. But we made it through that dinner because I was able to take him to the bathroom and nurse him for ten minutes. It was a wonderful tool for that season.
But then, six months later he could care less about it. [Here's hoping the same thing happens with the paci...not holding my breath, though. (UPDATE: IT KINDA SORTA HAS. Not holding my breath for this continueing for the duration and hoping I didn't jinx it even though I totally don't believe in jinxes).] I'll get to more specifics, but I actually ended up nursing him longer than he really cared for myself. Now before you think I'm creepy, I'm not one of those women who just love nursing anyway (not that I think that's creepy at all- I kind of wish I was). We've certainly had our beautiful moments, and I'm more than thankful for them, but overall, I'm just as content snuggling and rocking my babies. It was more that I was just scared to do it. I was afraid of the emotions. So there was probably a good month (when he was about seventeen months old), where I was just nursing him because I couldn't end it.
As far as the actual feelings, it turned out to be easier for me emotionally than it was with Annie. Frankly, I was really shocked by that because my nursing relationship with him was longer (by about fifty percent) and in many ways more intense (he cared about nursing a lot more, nursed much more frequently, and I had to make alot more sacrifices for it).
I think there are a few reasons for this. First of all, the dynamic was just so different. She never really cared much for nursing, but weaning her was still much more parent directed. Weaning Graves was very baby led. Graves went from loving to nurse at a year to being ambivalent about it at best six months later. Like he had no desire to nurse before naps and in the evening and dropped those feedings and only wanted to nurse in the mornings because he woke up with an empty stomach. Then it got to be where if I put him on the ground when I got him out of his crib, he'd run to his highchair if one of us didn't intercept him to nurse. It was very clear he was over it. Annie, on the other hand, was so laid back. I probably could have switched her to a bottle at six months and she wouldn't have cared. Likewise, I could have probably nursed her until she was two. I don't have any guilt about how I did it with her and I wouldn't even say I regret it, though I might try to do it differently if I had another child like her. I just think it was just neat with Graves to get a very clear indication FROM HIM that he was ready to be done.
Also, with Annie, we had a three day retreat that we went on and I had it in my mind that she needed to be weaned by then. With Graves, I left him while he was nursing for a couple of days and pumped and he picked right back up. I didn't even know that was an option to try with her. Anyway, although I weaned her somewhat gradually (really it doesn't seem that gradual now- it was over about a month), I still felt a lot of pressure because of that date on the calendar. In the end, I had to give myself a cut off date with Graves too, just to make it final, but it was different because I knew it was completely my decision when. The initial date I decided on ended up falling on a particularly hormonal/emotional week for me (ahem), so I just pushed it back. There was so much freedom in being able to do that.
Lastly, I just think I process things differently with him. Maybe it's because I know all the good things coming, but the milestones just don't seem as hard. It's strange because he might be our last biological baby and also might have been our last infant. For some reason, with him, I have a much harder time leading up to a milestone/transition, but the actual event seems easier. In a way, I do sort of torture myself worrying about what's coming up. But honestly, I would rather hurt leading up to something and then be able to get through it easily, rather than have to deal with it during/afterwards. Plus, I don't even know that I could change it if I wanted to. I much preferred feeling it all on the front end with Graves and then having an easy week/month after we finished nursing to the weeks after Annie finished that I kind of spent rehashing it.
There was one other thing that was really special about this process with us. Graves was never really much of a rocker as a baby. Before I weaned him I got really sad thinking about loosing that bonding time. I knew from Annie that there would be other things that replaced it, but I was still nervous and worried. So I prayed that he would start wanting me to rock him. And almost like a light switch he started letting me. It's a really special time, and like those first eighteen months of nursing him, something I'll always appreciate.