On Weaning At 3.5

Moments after Arlo was born, at the instant he latched on for the first time, I remember laughing at the sudden and total reorganization of the function of my breasts. For a moment, I felt like an imposter mother. That feeling was quickly followed by wonder at how smart our bodies are. I remember my doula saying something like, “Get ready, this is going to be what it’s like for the next three years.” At the time I thought three years seems like a bit much.

breastfeeding for the first time

breastfeeding for the first time

Flash forward 3 ½ years, my son was still nursing. I knew it was time to initiate the transition to weaning because although he only nursed once a day I found myself getting annoyed by it. We had already weaned once already when I was 4 months pregnant with my second son, Avery (aka Honeyman). But when his brother arrived, Arlo became seriously interested in nursing again. In a moment of total engorgement, we regressed. It's been a year.

I often see on Facebook posts about breastfeeding in public and the negativity some mamas experience. Maybe it’s because I live in Northern California, but I have managed to not have any bad public experiences. I am not shy about when or where I nurse.  

There is a family story of my grandfather Belizaire, who we named Arlo after (Arlo James Belizaire). He was the oldest of four kids and he nursed until he was six years old. He lived on a farm in rural Louisiana and his younger brothers and sisters were also nursing at that time too. Hearing my mom tell me this story growing up, I got a sense that six was the limit. But that was a family story, now I was the breastfeeding mom. Three and a half felt enough.

I told Arlo that the “Milk Fairy” was coming soon. She was to bring a special gift in exchange for no more “ninnies”. Last month, early one morning, when Arlo crawled into my bed, I whispered to him that I thought the Milk Fairy came in the night. With a similar excitement as Christmas morning, he ran to the living room in search of the gift she brought. He was thrilled to find his first Lego set. It had a “fire rescue” theme -his favorite topic. The gift worked! He prefers playing with his Legos more than breastfeeding. He hardly talks about nursing. Recently he told me that sometimes my “ninnies” talk to him and say “Nurse me, nurse me” and he says “No, I am all done and have Legos now”. I have not delved into the psychological implications of this but whatever, it worked.

I recommend reading this fascinating article about breastfeeding.