The passage of time in my kids’ growth was marked by two things this March. Earlier in the month Screecher Creature No. 4, the baby, who is only 11 months old, I feared, was starting to self-wean. I meant feared, in the physical sense, for me. I spent one day in a state of discomfort. He was also teething so maybe that had something to do with the nursing strike. He sometimes wakes at about 3am for a quick feed. This is fine. Of late, he hasn’t shown any interest in a morning feed when he wakes for the day preferring instead to have a huge bowl of Ready Brek. It has been quite a number of months now since I fed him in public. There is simply too much going on for him to risk missing anything for a breastfeed. I feel like a big fake at my weekly breastfeeding group as I am the only “breastfeeding” mother there whose child does not want to breastfeed! For a couple of nights he had been quite fussy. Waking and grizzling over nothing in particular. He hadn’t bothered nursing worth talking about that day. His older brothers were all day time weaned by 13 months old but continued to night and morning feed for a further five months. Being pregnant each time pushed the weaning process on a little bit as my supply had all but dried up. But because it was a gradual process with the others, I never had any discomfort. That was not the case on that Friday. I tried several times to feed him, bordering on forcing once or twice but he wasn’t having any. In the literal sense. I used to think I would be devastated at the end of this era. The closing of a chapter in babyhood for him and maybe even motherhood for me as my small baby makes ever increasing advances towards toddlerhood. But I am surprised to discover that I feel a little bit excited about it. I am looking forward to the next stages in his life; crawling, cruising, walking and I am of the belief that weaning is an extension of that. Breastfeeding is not just about food, there is a huge element of nurturing involved too. I had thought, that because he is most likely our last baby, I would hang on a little longer with feeding him. I did encourage the others to wean but had they put up any amount of resistance, I would have stopped immediately and allowed them to decide when they wanted to stop. It never occurred to me that one of them would pip me to the post. Sometimes it’s the child that wants to let go. And on the same day, our eldest wanted to know why people called him by the shortened version of his name. It is a nickname I have called him since birth and others have been following suit of late. He said he didn’t like it and when I pressed him it appears he would prefer if his full and given title was used. Even with me. I was about to tell him that I have never used my full and proper name, neither has one of his aunties. But I stopped. He has a right to be called Conor and not Con if he wishes. It’s going to be hard though. How do I stop the habit of a lifetime? A lifetime that has lasted 6 years.
Post Script. The nursing strike came to an end that same night but yes, it would seem that the weaning process is under way. The feeds have definitely slowed down. But I will continue for as long or as little as he likes. The other boy has stopped his objection at being called Con, too. Turns out that he just wanted to have more letters in his name! And then two more things happened. Our baby morphed from Screecher Creature No. 4 into the Creeper Crawler. At 11 months and one week old, he took off. Towards my lap top and anything else that caught his attention. For me, once they are up and moving, they have entered toddlerhood, they are babies no more. After that the world is their oyster and before you know it, they are being bundled into a uniform and brought to school. Out into the big bad world. Scary stuff. For me! Mister Husband knows someone whose wife keeps an empty cot in their bedroom. I think it’s used for storage but she is not for moving it. Their baby left that cot 7 years ago. At the time I heard this I laughed. And then, I got it. Only a very small few baby items made it down through the ranks in our house. One of these is a set of cot sheets. One is a blue check and the other is a paler shade of grey. It used to be white. Each of the Awesome Foursome slept on them. Over the last 6 years snot, vomit, pee, poo and regurgitated breast milk have been washed out of them. Last month during another clean out, these sheets were put into a bag along with old duvet covers and sheets to be used as dust sheets when we finally get around to painting. I was upstairs last week and in a basin on the landing was one of these sheets covered in dust and dried dirt where Mister Husband has used it on a clean-up operation. I wanted to take it, wash it and put in in a memory box. It really hit me. My eyes filled up and I felt another chapter close in their lives. God only knows the state I will be in when the newly Creeper Crawler eventually fully weans.