Annabelle was eighteen months old when we left, was adjusting to being a big sister, and starting to talk. A couple of weeks into our adventure I decided to wean her. She was having a really rough time sharing nursing with our new baby and there was a lot of screaming and thrashing involved when I wanted to finish nursing Cassidy before nursing her. It seemed to me that it would be easier for her to accept never nursing, rather than sometimes nursing with no prediction of when she would be allowed to and when the baby would bump her from that esteemed position.
So the next time she asked to nurse I told her that our baby only eats mommy’s milk, but Annabelle gets to eat all sorts of delicious things, naming several of her favorites. So, I told her, we were going to let the baby do the nursing, and instead of nursing she and I would do hugs, and kisses, cuddling, and this little piggy. We’d read books and tickle each other.
I didn’t expect this to have much affect right away, but I wanted to start the discussion and gradually distract her more and more away from nursing. Instead, she accepted what I told her and turned her attention to something else. So we didn’t nurse that time, and the next time she asked, we had the same conversation, and she accepted it, and we haven’t nursed since.
That’s right, cold turkey, tear free weaning! I was shocked.
She was already not nursing to sleep at night—she had taken to nursing almost to sleep, then suddenly shaking herself wide awake and ready to play. So removing nursing from our night time routine was actually helpful. It was like cutting out her midnight caffeine drink.
She wasn’t nursing down for naps either because she had developed the habit of falling asleep while driving. So that wasn’t a problem.
Nursing as a heal-all is always nice, but Annabelle had become accustomed to going to David when she was hurt or upset, as I usually had a baby in my arms and on my breast. Or else she would let me hug her against me and the nursing baby. We had already stopped using nursing to heal all.
Annabelle is extremely hale and strong and eats a large and varied diet, so while my milk has beneficial qualities that cannot be replaced by anything else on earth, I was not concerned with her nutritional needs being met, and I felt happy with the benefits she had already gleaned from our nursing relationship.
Maybe because I already have another nursling, I did not mourn the end of this part of our relationship at all. The only twinge of regret I may have felt was for the tandem nursing relationship I had expected Annabelle and Cassidy to have as tandem nurslings. However, their relationship is already strong and adorable and full of love, so I can let that go.
Annabelle is a complete daddy’s girl, in part due to the fact of having become a big sister at so young an age (although she and her daddy were close from the beginning). The timing was not ideal in many ways, but at the same time, I cannot believe it is anything but perfect because it is what it is, and we all have so much love and gain so much joy from the fact of each other member in our family that there can be no concern that our situation or any of our decisions is less than exactly what they should be, even if they are different from the choices my peers would make in a similar situation.
And here I want to give a shout out to my peers without whose love I might not be so comfortable in myself and my choices and instincts (waves to peers).
The only time when Annabelle’s having weaned was inconvenient was several weeks later when she was sick for the first time since weaning. Cassidy got a very mild cold that didn’t bother him, and I think that it was the breastmilk that got him through it so easily. Annabelle was sick for a whole week and felt miserable with a high fever, cough, and vomiting. But she got through and is back to her all-too-energetic self!
Energetically dissassembling all our pens (and sometimes dropping them down the AC vents in the dashboard, I finally figured out), emptying every wipe out of the drawer of wipes, spooning yogurt into her mouth, and other places, emptying the glove compartment, ripping the toilet paper holder from the wall (screws and all)…Annabelle is a handful!
She accepts each new place matter of factly and without apparent surprise and with the same eagerness to get out and go. She enjoys playing with Ada in the RV, or gong on excursions in all the new places. She mostly wants to be put down to get into mischief and resists getting picked up, unless it’s inconvenient, and then she needs to be in arms right away.
She is quick to protest, and loud, and can be quite dramatic, but she is secretly easy going and reasonable and relatively easy to sooth and restore to good spirits or to gain cooperation from.
She sleeps head to foot with Ada in their bed, but usually wakes at some point in the night and one of us (David) has to get up and cuddle her back to sleep, or else we’re too tired to get up and she climbs into our bed which is way too crowded. It’s full size, and so are we, with two adults and a baby already!
So how is she adjusting to fulltime RVing? She is happy and thriving, and getting more attention from her parents than they had at “home” so for Annabelle, life is good!