2 Nov 2012

Saying No to Nursing for the First Time

Yesterday we had to take our dog to the vet. We had a 10am appointment, but Jacob decided to have a party from 5am to 8:30am, after waking every half hour to nurse throughout the first part of the night. I think somebody was processing his Halloween experience (no, he didn't have much candy at all). I called the vet to get a later appointment and we all slept in.

Minutes before our new and improved appointment time, I was still scrambling to get everyone ready. Diaper (we don't tend to bother with them in our own house), two layers of pants, socks, shoes, sweater, coat, and the hat and mitts that my boy won't wear but I feel I should have with me so that I don't look like quite such a neglectful parent. What can they say if the mitts on a string are dangling from his sleeves? I'm trying, right?? I whip his hat out of my pocket and stick it on him when someone walks by, and then he promptly rips it off. Somehow we WILL get this figured out by the time it gets dangerously cold here.

I got my own shoes on, found the dog's leash under a mountain of toys, and was finally putting on my coat when Jacob pointed at the zipper I was doing up. He started to pull it down. "You want to nurse?" He nodded. Now? "We can't right now. We're late. We really have to go. We're going to the vet's office – maybe you can pet the cat. Would you like that?" He nodded again. For pretty much the first time ever, I said we couldn't nurse right then. I offered to trade nursing for a cat, and it worked!

We rushed down the road and coaxed the dog into the vet's office (at least this time I didn't have to carry all forty pounds of her AND the toddler up the stairs). I thought we might have a moment to nurse while we waited, but since we were late, we were ushered straight into an exam room. The vet came right in, and Jacob was well enough distracted by all the goings-on. As we were wrapping up our conversation, Jacob zipped open my sweater and started pulling at my shirt. The vet smiled and said, "He just wants to be really close right now doesn't he?" I SO didn't feel like explaining that I'm trans, had this baby myself, and yes, still breastfeed him at 18 months. I zipped my sweater back up and cuddled him instead, which more or less worked.

Nursing Jacob to sleep in the rocking chair.
Nursing is the fastest way to get Jacob to sleep
By the time we got back home and sat down for a nice, unhurried nursing, over an hour had passed since he had first asked. It is incredible to think of how this has changed since the newborn days when waiting a few extra seconds to get the supplement from the fridge seemed like a disaster. This is the beginning of a gradual, gentle weaning process that I expect will take years. If Jacob had fallen and bonked his head and NEEDED to nurse at the vet's office, I would have done it no matter what. Had he badly wanted to nurse for any reason, we would have nursed. But this time he didn't. While typing this post, I've been holding him asleep on my chest, and we've nursed a few times when he fussed over the last hour. I'm sure we've got hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of nursing time yet to come, but things are starting to shift.


  1. It happens so, so slowly. Like building a mountain from grains of sand. But it happens, all the same. <3 I remember those first times I said no to nursing for similar reasons - in a hurry, making supper, on the toilet LOL - and how surprised I was when it was just accepted, when he wasn't desperate and hurt by my 'no'. It's bittersweet, like everything parenting is.

  2. That photo is stunningly lovely.

  3. When you are connected to your child, you can feel the difference between needing to nurse, and just kinda sorta bored and wanting to nurse. It has been even easier for me to distinguish this with my second child, I think because I am trusting my intuition more. As my child approaches 2 years old, I am setting limits with her around many, many things, and nursing just happens to be one of them.

  4. What a sweet post, thanks for writing. I love how you detail so many of the little things about breastfeeding, and in writing about them, you freeze them in time and make them significant.

  5. Those limits have come easier the second time around for me, partly because my second child is less demanding than the first at the same age, and partly because I've gotten better at setting boundaries. But every little step they grow is also a step away, and that can feel a little sad.

  6. What a beautiful post, and a beautiful photo. Thank you for your loving, thoughtful approach to parenting.

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