Emily’s currently obsessed with Titty, which is not her favourite doll or a baby blanket. It’s MY booby. She calls it “my titty”, and when I try to make her understand titty is mine because it’s attached to my body (and that she has her own witty, by the way), she touches it and firmly says: “No. My titty”.
Not only. In the last couple of months, right on time to start nursery—kids always have the best timing—we reached the next level of obsession: she’d breastfeed 24/7, and when I say NO she throws herself on the floor in true “Sicilian widow” style (as we say in Italy) and cries kicking her feet.
I know this is a unique time and bond between us which will be gone forever once I put a stop to it. I know that in ten years (or less) I’ll look back to today and I’d give anything to have one more day with my kids as babies—and this makes me emotional because I know that day will come sooner than I think.
A mother knows her natural limits
I always say that I’d like to let Emily decide when to stop breastfeeding (and preferably not before she’s two years old), but I also know a mother knows when she’s reaching her natural limits: when breastfeeding, I think it’s always a good idea to listen to your body and, even if it’s not exactly what’s best for your child, respect your natural limits.
As for me, I think I’m actually crossing mine.
I have breastfed my kids non-stop for three years and 7 months. I breastfed Oliver all through pregnancy, and tandem breastfed them for months after Emily was born.
With Oliver, weaning was easy. One day, when I offered him the booby, he looked at baby Emily lying on me, gently pushed her head with his hand towards my breast, and made me understand it was for Emily. We talked about it and agreed on it. A few days later he asked for it again, but I explained to him that we had agreed that titty was for Emily now: he shed a few tears, but he accepted it lightly.
Oliver’s always been like that: so far, when it came to major milestones like sleeping through the night, potty training and stop breastfeeding, he’s had a surprisingly good timing and, when in doubt, he’s usually welcomed our guide.
Emily is not quite like that. She’s a passionate and very determined little girl, and it’s usually her way or no way. On top of that, she definitely won’t “have to” give it up for another baby (unless I borrow one? Any volunteers out there?) and as long as titty is always available to her, she will never feel like it doesn’t belong to her.
So something is very clear to me now: if I want to keep breastfeeding, which I do, but slowly reduce it and stop in a way that is respectful for both of us, breastfeeding will have to start happening on my terms.
I’ve got a plan!
In theory, I know what I have to do. But I also know that practice might be very different from theory, and what works for me might not necessarily work for you. But here’s my plan (my sister will laugh, because I have a plan for everything ;-)
Stop breastfeeding at night
I believe the first step is done. I stopped breastfeeding her at night (which also coincided with her sleeping slightly better).
I “simply” (ah, forgetful memory, you’re such a blessing in disguise!) replaced titty with water. There was some crying and some huffing and puffing, but now she knows that at night there’s no titty until about 6-7am. She still falls asleep on the booby when I’m at home, which doesn’t seems to affect our no-titty-at-night policy.
Set a daily breastfeeding routine
My next step will be to set a daily routine. Give myself a limit of two-three times a day, and decide when to breastfeed (for example, in the morning, mid afternoon and to go to bed). When she asks for it outside of those times, I’ll try to distract her with games and food and hope for the best. I’ll be strict, but also very flexible, because I think flexibility is a great asset in motherhood.
Gradually and respectfully reducing it
Once the routine is set, I’ll try and reduce it in the most respectful way. For example, if I notice that in the middle of the afternoon I can “easily” take her mind off titty without her rolling on the floor crying, I will try and go till bed time, maybe by moving dinner slightly earlier (as sometimes hunger is a trigger for titty). Turtle steps. Little by little.
From there, it’ll be easy peasy: she’ll be in nursery in the morning (🤞🏻), we’ll be busy in the afternoon and little by little mother and baby will work together to do the magic of respectful motherhood and Emily will be naturally, happily and baby-led weaned. Win win.
I’ll have to put bandaids/chilly/lemon on my nipples to convince her that titty is just not good anymore, so she will stop abruptly, and it’ll be a trauma which somehow will screw her up in some way at some point in her adult life.
After all, that’s motherhood in a nutshell, isn’t it?