|In the end, it all works out.|
I feel like there's a lot of talk about what to do when you have a kid who has no interest in getting off the boob fountain, but that there isn't a whole lot of information about what to do when your kid self-weans at a young age. The first year of the Little Lady's life was not an easy one for me. I struggled mightily with parenting a baby and a toddler and my own feelings of reticence regarding having a second child. I'm lucky that breastfeeding comes easily for me - I produce plenty of milk, and both of my kids latched like champions - but what I was completely and totally unprepared for was the possibility that Rose would self-wean at six-and-a-half months.
It does happen, despite your breastfeeding book and your lactation consultant labeling it a "nursing strike". Sometimes, no matter how much you push the boob, your kid just doesn't want it anymore. The rejection hurts, especially if you're not emotionally ready to wean your little one. Self-weaning happens, you're not alone, and you're in for a bumpy ride. Pour yourself a drink, throw back a handful of placenta pills and get ready for The Five Stages of Self-Weaning.
Denial. This is when you find yourself literally forcing your boob into your baby's mouth while she fights mightily against it. You try every trick in the book to get your kid to latch - rocking, singing, walking, using the sling - only to find yourself sitting on your birth ball at four in the morning, sobbing along with your starving child while your legs go numb from six hours of bouncing.
Anger. Your sweet, darling babe becomes your own worst enemy. The expletives you mutter under your breath every time your kid gets hungry would shock even a stand-up comic. You swear that your baby is rejecting your boobs because she wants to take revenge on you for all the horrible parenting decisions you've made over the last few months, and you are pissed! You find yourself squeezing the life out of stuffed animals, abusing annoying toys, and throwing things at your spouse in an effort to express the anger that is threatening to take over your life.
Bargaining. You try making crazy deals with your baby. You tell her that if she just nurses for five minutes from your right boob you will let her use your iPhone as a teething ring. You beg and plead with your small child to please just get back on the boob train and you will never again take away the scissors when she is playing with them. You have completely lost all rational thought and are willing to promise your child anything just to get her to nurse for a few minutes.
Depression. You blame yourself for your child's rejection. You are absolutely positive that your baby doesn't want to breastfeed anymore because you work, or you spent too much time with her brother, or you took a trip during a seminal period of her development. You chastise yourself for not pumping as much as you should have, for not getting more help with your older child to ensure that you were able to have quiet nursing sessions with your infant. You are positive that your child not wanting to nurse anymore is because you are a terrible Mother and that your kid is doomed to a life of failure and you will end up visiting her in prison where she makes license plates and has a girlfriend named Shower Stalker.
Acceptance. You let go of trying to force your kid to nurse, which causes you to realize that the whole situation was stressing you out. You notice that feeding your child (with a bottle, as requested) no longer fills you with anxiety and that you aren't dreading getting your kid to eat. You can, once again, enjoy snuggling with your babe while she receives nourishment. For the first time in weeks, your anxiety level falls below "Red Alert" and you stop seeing your baby as Personal Enemy No. 1. Your child is thriving and happy and you stop seeing self-weaning as a rejection, but as your child asserting his or her independence. You realize how nice it is to not have a small human pawing at you all the time, and you remember that sex is so much better when you're not lactating. You celebrate having such an advanced, self-aware child by enjoying several strong cocktails, and getting down and dirty (with a condom, of course).