Brokeback Nursing: I wish I knew how to quit you

Readers: This post is about breastfeeding and boobs. You’ve been warned.

So after months of research, tears, pain, sleepless nights and finally, success, I’ve made it a year nursing Simon. Woo-Hoo. In the beginning, this goal seemed almost unattainable. We struggled with my anatomy (to be PC, I’ll say I’m well-endowed up top, follow?), thrush, a massive wound on one side that took over 4 months to heal, plus the struggles of being the only one to get up with him around the clock and never be more than a couple hours away most of the time so that I was always available to feed him. Finally, around 6 months, we really hit our stride, and things have been a breeze ever since (notice to any new or about-to-be new moms out there: do NOT read about my nursing experience and think yours will be the same. It won’t. I think my situation was pretty extreme. Don’t worry, your boobs will be magical.).

Now that Simon has turned 1, however, I’d like to go ahead and wrap this up. I know that the WHO and the AAP and La Leche League and all the hippies recommend nursing til age 2 at least, but let’s be honest. That ain’t me. I made it a year and that was my goal. Extended nursing is not appealing to me at all. This is not a judgment on others who do nurse til age 2+. I think it’s great. Good for you. If you nurse one day of your baby’s life, I think that’s great. If you never nurse once, I think that’s great. This is one issue that I really don’t care about what others do. So anyone reading this who wants me to consider nursing longer, save your breath. It’s not happening.

Anyway, I know that I’m ready to be done, but I’m just not sure how to finish. Rather, I know how logically to wean, but strategically, I have no clue how to quit.

Imagine me as Jake Gyllenhall and nursing my baby as Heath Ledger. Obviously.

Simon isn’t a huge “demand” nurser. He never has been. He never nursed more than 6 times a day at his most, but his feeds would last FOR.EV.ER. Dear God, it would take me 5 hours to put him down in the beginning. *shudder* Moving on.

Once we got past the endless cluster feeding, we got into a great routine of nursing 4-6 times a day. As he started eating  more solid food and becoming more active, we easily dropped to 4 times a day, sometimes 5 if he woke up in the night. We’ve made it down to about 3 times a day, with him usually only nursing on one side now about 75% of the time. But when he wakes up at, say, 5 a.m. for some unknown reason, I can stumble down the hall, nurse him in a fog for 15 minutes and stumble back to bed. I know I could NOT do that, but I know my child. I know that if he does randomly wake up and he wants to nurse, he won’t let up. Believe me, I’ve tried.

There are plenty of times that he wakes for a few minutes and goes right back to sleep on his own. At night and for naps, he goes down awake and happy after I nurse him. And for a while, I could put him down without nursing at all, and it was great. Then the moon changed positions or the temperature dropped or something happened, and he was having none of that nonsense. And when faced with a screaming, non-napping child vs nursing for a few minutes and getting 90 minutes to only juggle one child, you can guess what I choose.

So really the issue is me, obviously. Nursing is just EASY in that way. Just read what MODG said about it. She nailed it. Nursing him before sleep and in the middle of the night is my lazy habit to ensure I get what I want in the short term. But is it going to hurt me in the long term?

I also want to wean him peacefully. I’ve said before that there are windows of opportunities with kids and their development, and if you catch yourself in a window, you’ve got to make a move. I don’t think we are in a window right now, but I am hoping we are close. My goal is to be 100% done by June 1, when we go to Princeton for Paul’s college reunion. That’s a ways away, which is good, but I can’t help but panic a little at the looming deadline.

So this is where we are. I need to figure out how to guide both of us to a happy ending (NOT LIKE THAT). I’m not as sad about this as I thought I would be, which is good. Any advice from moms that have BTDT would be AWESOME. Until then, I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing while looking out for the end of the road. Wish me luck.

Also, how psycho is this picture?

I don't know whether I love her or want to die.

  • Chelseawellington

    I wish I had more advice for you! Lilli nursed until 15 months and really just weaned herself, I just didn’t “offer”, if that makes sense. Violet was done at 7 months because of my own medical issues and it kiiiiiillled me but she didn’t give a hoot, she had always taken a bottle happily and with whatever I offered her in it (breast milk, formula, chocolate martini, etc) so again….I didn’t really have to do anything besides offer her a bottle.

    So, like I said…I’m not help but I say just don’t offer, make him ask for it. Only offer one side and try shortening the time he feeds. Fill his belly up with table food and zippy right before you nurse?

    You are a rock star, congrats!

    • Christi Wampler

      I think you have great advice. I automatically go to nurse him at bedtime, so yea, I need to wait on him to ask for it. That will help a lot.

  • Anonymous

    You always have been Super Mom!

    • Christi Wampler

      Thanks darling!

  • Rachel

    Oh I wish I could help. My baby (is so not a baby anymore) turned 2 in January and I’ve been trying to quit nursing for the last 4 months. It he still wants to at night and I pick the easy road over the angry boy. My oldest was so easy. I wanted to wean at 1 year and at a little over 11 months he just quit. I’m afraid Connor is going to want to nurse forever.

    • Christi Wampler

      Rachel, I hear you. I can’t think clearly at 5 a.m.!

  • JulietsButterfly

    You know I’m not the best one for advice since Alex nursed past three.  But take the window when it comes and run with it.  The before bed or early morning nursings are the last to go.  A year is fine…good luck with the weaning!

    • Christi Wampler


  • Leslie

    One thing I think is really important–the more you refuse to nurse, if he really wants it, the more desperate and demanding he will become (at least that was the case with mine).  So don’t offer, distract, but don’t refuse.  Also, so that you don’t panic, you might consider a compromise with yourself, such as no nursing in the daytime, but nursing to sleep only.  At least as a starting place.  And you can start setting limits on where, when, and how long.

    • Christi Wampler

      Leslie, so true. I definitely don’t want to deny him or upset him. A couple of weeks ago, like I said above, he went from only nursing like twice a day to suddenly wanting it a lot more. And when it changed, he was suddenly clingy and whining and crawling up to me at odd times to nurse… he clearly wasn’t ready to cut back that much. So I just went back to “normal” and after a week of that, he’s not demanding it any more during random times. I guess I hope to lead him to weaning on his own. We’ll see!

      • Suzanne Miller

        It is a balancing at about your needs and the child’s needs sometimes.  I have to admit I was a mom who nursed my children for 2+ years, but I am not a breastfeeding die hard.  When I got pregnant with Emi I had to cut Max off. I believe he may still resent her for it. And when I was pumping the excess he smelled it like an addict, kind of scary. And I truly thought Emi would be a self ween type baby but she was not.  But I was done!  I had to take a weekend trip.  How are your parents? Could they handle a weening child?  The bottom line is that you are a good parent and your children are secure. If you need to ween, then it is time. But if you feel Simon needs a little more time then give it to him.  Either way, you and child will still have a strong bond and it is all good.

        Congrats on completing a year! It is funny for to me that my milk was good for their immune system (so maybe they sucked all mine away) they never were given an anti-bactic until after they stopped breast feeding. And here I am with an immune disorder, crazy.

  • Cara

    Christi — I started the weaning process around the 1 year mark too.  By start – I mean I got him down to 3 times a day (before nap, before bed, and early morning wake-up).  Those were the killers…because I depended on them so much to get him to sleep.  Then – I found out I was going to Uganda and had to get him weaned pronto —  The thing that worked the best was for KEvin to take over the early morning wake-up because Carson seemed to just accept that Kevin was there and I wasn’t so nursing wasn’t an option.  I won’t lie — the first few mornings — C was pissed but nothing extreme.  But — really only 2 or 3 days of him being mad and then that feed was essentially dropped. 

    • Christi Wampler

      So basically, I need to plan myself an international trip!!!! LOL No, that’s a great idea. Simon goes down for naps great with Paul and when Paul is already up when Simon wakes up, he goes and gets him and he’s happy as a clam, so I think I will include Paul in my plan more. Awesome, thanks!

  • April Sikes

    Congrats on nursing for a year! That’s great! I wish I had some advice for you. I quit nursing Daniel at 4 months, and Thomas weaned himself at one year…Asher just did whatever everyone else was doing. I hope it goes smoothly for ya!

  • Shellie

    we weaned to a bottle, which I don’t recommend, because it’s just another weaning to do later. Anyway, maybe a sippy from Paul at the “necessary” times for a few days. After that, you won’t smell like “milk” and it will be done.

  • MaryLauren@My 3 Little Birds

    I nursed my daughter until she was 13months old. I slowly phased out the feedings until we were just down to bedtime. I think in your case I would try to introduce another “comfort ritual” for those wakings, but honestly, Simon will probably resist and not go back to sleep. Then he’ll eventually adjust and things will be fine until he hits the next stage or a tooth comes in or he gets sick…then all bets are off. And you’ve done so well to make it to your goal- you should be so proud!!