The Truth About Weaning Will Make Nursing Forever Look Good

mustardWhenever someone asks me how long I breastfed my kids, I automatically answer, "Too long." Not because either one of my babies nursed for an excessively long time, but because I was done before they were done, if you know what I mean. How well do I remember the desperate, weary feeling of those last few months: "Oh my god, will I ever not have a tiny person attached to my breast?!"

Then I'd sigh and look into the happy, contented little eyes peeking over my boob ("nom, nom, nom") and a wave of maternal pixie dust would wash over me and I would resign myself to another week or two of bondage.

Eventually, of course, I got to the very end of my rope. That's when I discovered something about my kids (and it happened the same way with both of them): They weren't about to give up that "baboo" without a fight! 

Stubborn little mothersuckers!

Clearly those books on "gentle weaning" I'd been reading weren't going to get the job done.

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See, my big mistake (and I made it twice, because apparently I'm a very slow learner) was letting my babies nurse themselves to sleep. (I know, I know ... but that was the only way they'd go to bed!! And I was freaking tired, okay?) Unfortunately, predictably, things did not go well when I tried to take breastfeeding out of the bedtime equation.

After many nights of no sleep but quite a lot of screaming and crying and begging and bargaining, I had no choice but to get ... creative. (In the psychologically damaging sense of the word, most likely.)

It was guilt that finally worked on my daughter, I'm ashamed to admit. One night I had this idea ... what would happen if I winced and said, "Ow!!" when my daughter tried to nurse? I could tell her my baboos were broken. Maybe she would stop because she wouldn't want to hurt mommy?

She did. She did stop! Poor little thing, with that startled little face! Talk about guilt! I'll feel bad about that one for the rest of my life. (But, like I said -- she stopped! And that was that.)

Guilt didn't work on my son, however. Turns out mommy yelping in pain didn't spoil his appetite one bit.

You know what did? Mustard. Just a very thin layer of mustard applied to my nipples before a feeding -- not enough for him to notice, but enough for him to taste -- worked like a charm. He pulled back and wrinkled up his nose in disgust. "Hmm, I guess it went bad," I said, feigning surprise. "Yucky," he agreed. And, again, that was that.

Why am I telling you my tales of weaning woe? Not because I'm proud of the way I handled this milestone ... but because I'm not ashamed, either. And I'm willing to bet there are at least a few of you out there who are reading this as you nurse your kid for what feels like the 14 billionth time and wondering if you'll ever not have a tiny person attached to your breast ... and I want you to know something.

There's probably a bottle of mustard in your fridge.

Are you in the weaning process? How's it going?


Image via Karen Booth/Flickr

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