This week at our La Leche League meeting, we had a “Weaning Party” for Munchkin. I took a few minutes from the meeting and gave her two gifts: a little book that I made her which tells her nursing story with pictures through the years, and a milk pendant necklace. The necklace has two little hearts that are made from my own milk that I sent to the crafter – Hollyday Designs. (I also got a matching keychain for myself!) I also had a balloon and some blueberry muffins to make it a party!
Munchkin’s Little Book of Nursing and Weaning
Nursing has been a big part of our lives, you and I. At first it was mostly about nourishment, and later mostly about comfort and closeness. Nursing gave us ample opportunities for physical closeness, and I think it brought us very close together emotionally too. It meant that even when we were apart, we were never far from each other’s thoughts. And when we were reunited, nursing allowed us to reconnect physically. For a long time nursing could fix all problems: from general crankiness, to illnesses and wakefulness, to shots and boo-boos. As you got older, you developed new sources of nourishment, new methods of physical closeness, new solutions to problems. And now, you have entered a new stage in your life, where you no longer nurse – now you are weaned. I am glad that I waited for you to come to this stage in your own time. I think that now we are both ready for what comes next in your great life adventure. I will always treasure the memory of our nursing relationship, but now it’s time to move forward.
Your first year (0-1) – The infancy year
This, of course, was the year you were born. My first time nursing a baby. We learned together! During the first half of this year, you grew and were nourished only by my milk! Our biggest challenge was that I went back to work and you didn’t take a bottle! You never wanted an artificial nipple, a bottle or a pacifier – only Mommy. I learned that nobody could take my place, that only I was “mother”. When we were together you nursed often and through the night to make up for the time we were apart, but we were never apart for more than 4 or 5 hours. When we were apart, I pumped my milk to keep up my milk supply, even though you didn’t drink it in bottles.
Your second year (1-2) – The toddler year
When you turned one, I thought you were so big! I was proud to still be nursing you, when so many others didn’t make it that long. One year was always the goal you heard about, from the pediatrician and the baby magazines. But by the time you turned one, I already knew that I wanted to nurse you until at least age two. I still nursed you on my lunch break for most of this year, until the time came when I found that you were falling asleep before I arrived more often than not. When this happened, we would be apart for the longest in your life – an entire workday. You no longer nursed down for sleep, but you still nursed through the night. You requested to nurse by signing MILK, and you called my breasts “na-nas”.
Your third year (2-3) – The pregnancy year
This was the year that I was pregnant with Sweets. You went from nursing 5 times per day to nursing only once per week for about six months. Maybe that’s why I have no pictures of you nursing during this year. There were many times that I was sure you had weaned, or that you were about to wean, but you always asked again – sometimes after two whole weeks! Even when there was no milk, even when it had been weeks since you last nursed, nursing was still important to you. When you did ask to nurse, you would cuddle up and nurse for 30 minutes! I was not sure if I wanted to tandem nurse, but I did know that I didn’t want to end our nursing relationship before you were ready, and so we continued.
Your forth year (3-4) – The tandem year
This was the year that Sweets was born, and you tandem nursed. The three nights I spent in the hospital having Sweets were the first time I had been away from you overnight, and the longest that I have been away from you even now. You learned to share Mommy, and your milk, with your sister. You went back to nursing more frequently when Sweets was born, but shortly after, we started nursing only twice per day as our regular schedule. You had such empathy for your sister – any time she cried, you would tell me, “She needs some Mommy’s Milk!” This year you started spending the night away from home with your grandparents occasionally. You didn’t notice or mind that you didn’t nurse when we were apart – you would just nurse again when you came home.
Your fifth year (4-5) – The weaning year
This was the year that you weaned. You had the opportunity to nurse twice per day, but some days you only chose to nurse once. Other days you didn’t nurse at all. One day you told me that you couldn’t get milk anymore when you nursed by yourself, but you could if you nursed together with Sweets. At this point you started going days and weeks between nursing again, like you had when I was pregnant. But this time, I knew that it wasn’t because of changes in my body – it was you who was changing this time. The last time you nursed was December 30, 2010, but even months later, you did not consider yourself weaned. You told me that you would be weaned when you were five.
And now, in the month of your fifth birthday, we are having a weaning celebration for you, to celebrate this milestone. I am giving you this necklace as a weaning gift, made from my own milk in the shape of two hearts, which symbolizes our two hearts that have been joined together with the bond of nursing. When you wear this necklace, you can always have Mama’s Milk close to your heart. And I am giving you this book, the story of your nursing years, so that you can remember how much it has meant to us both.