Some say breastfeeding is a relationship. It has ups and downs and if it’s no longer working for one of the people involved, perhaps it’s time for a reevaluation.
Since day one I loved nursing Eryn. I had no “plan” as to how long we would nurse and one day I woke up to nursing a toddler. And I was okay with that. Then Ivy came along and I cried when Eryn cried for me — begging me to give the baby to Baba. So I nursed both.
So far I’ve been lucky with tandem nursing — both girls will nurse and fall asleep. It’s heaven having a couple of hours to myself to sleep, clean, or these days, read Qur’an. And with Eryn, we’ve gotten to the point where she nurses only 10 minutes before nap and bed time. I’ve always just followed her lead, and she’s accepted my suggestions when I’ve said we’re only going to nurse for one or two lullaby’s.
So maybe she’s weaning herself and I’m not the worst mother in the world.
But today I felt like I was.
Recently Eryn has been using nursing as an excuse to get me all to herself, pushing Ivy out of the way — and I’ve been secretly resenting the extra time she spends at the breast. It makes me feel manipulated and irrationally, that she’s “stealing” milk from Ivy. Especially when she doesn’t get what she wants (a candy or a video), Eryn will pretend to be tired just to have her “num-nyah” and after a few lullaby’s will jump up to play outside. I’m not cool with that.
At first I thought she was adjusting her nap time — phasing it out now that she’s almost three. But I soon realised she was manipulating the situation. I would have no problem nursing Eryn if she asked because she really needed to nurse. I’d never refuse her comfort. But she’s pretending. And after an hour, when she really is tired for her nap, she’ll ask to nurse all over again.
I know part of it is sleep association, part of it is missing me and part of it is jealousy for all the time Ivy gets to be in my arms. So I’ve been giving Eryn extra cuddles, reassurances and special play time as well as nursing.
But today at nap time I lost it. And my heart breaks.
I was trying to get a hungry Ivy to latch when Eryn took up her customary nursing position. Ivy became fussy and there was just something in Eryn’s sucking pattern that annoyed me, so I shouted:
Stop it, just stop it Eryn! I just DON’T LIKE IT ANYMORE!
Eryn looked at me. Then her mouth started to turn into a pout. I winced, preparing my soul to be crushed by a onslaught of tears. But she flopped down beside me and threw my arm over her eyes.
I told her two favourite stories, she giggled and then I told her I loved her. I love you too she said, and then she fell asleep.
And for a moment I felt relief that she just might be ready to wean — but that it came at the price of me being a shouty, impatient mom.
It was a perfectly okay nap time arrangement — but I still feel horrible. It’s like I’ve broken up with my best friend and I have no idea what I’m going to say to her the next time she wants to nurse to go to sleep.
And I want to cry imagining that I’ll never hold Eryn in my arms and watch her stroke Ivy’s head while the both of them nurse in perfect harmony.