My little one was watching too much tv. And she wasn't napping or sleeping. And she was nursing like a newborn again. And she was being overly fussy. And I didn't know what to do about any of it. As a mother, I knew there were reasons behind all of this. Obviously I was allowing all the tv watching. And I let it happen because it was making my life easier by letting me get things done. But the other things... well, I wasn't too sure why all of that was occurring.
It's easy to feel a lot of guilt for a lot of things as a mother and whoa did I ever this time. I was calling my doula friends asking them about what I should do; texting other moms asking them what they have done and what they thought about it. With all the support and advice I was getting, I wasn't feeling better though and I still felt like I didn't have an answer. Then, yesterday, serendipity came knocking at my door...
I walked past my bookshelf and fixed my eyes on "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" which I had not picked up since my little one was about 6 months old. I flipped to the index and looked up the word "Toddler" and opened to those pages. Then, a bright light shone down from the heavens as a choir of angels descended and began to sing "HALLELUJAH"...
"A month ago Celeste was a two-and-a-half-year-old nursing child who had become increasingly demanding of me. She seemed discontented and often angry at everything and everyone including herself and me. This is not unusual, I know, for a child whose baby sister had come into the family five months earlier. I had always assumed Celeste would eventually stop nursing when she was ready, with no part played by me.
One day the light dawned. I had been thinking, "This child does nothing but nurse!" Then I realized this was precisely the case. I had not stopped thinking that nursing met all of Celeste's needs- as indeed it had for a long time. I had not observed until then that I was not giving Celeste the attention she deserved at times when she was not nursing.
For me nursing had become so easy and effortless that I had fallen into the trap of not growing in my relationship with my daughter. What had always worked so well before was not meeting her needs now.
I began to change my complacent ways. I began faithfully spending time with Celeste each day and giving her my undivided attention. We did many things together: making play-dough, collecting Popsicle sticks and gluing them together, and reading many stories. I would sit and hold her and hug her and kiss her even without "nursies." We talked. When my five-month-old slept, I spent the time with Celeste instead of crossing off items from my list of things to be done. We started having regular mealtimes, reading bedtime stories, and following daily routines. I started to be conscientious about eye contact and really made an effort to do less talking and more listening.
To my amazement, in a matter of days the little girl whose nursing I had once seen no end to, was hardly nursing at all. I was become more attuned to what she really needed and was giving more of myself to meet her needs.
It was hard for me to change. In weaning myself, Celeste weaned also. Now I no longer think of baby-led weaning as "mother doing nothing." As in everything else, experience is the best teacher."
That is what I call a mommy bitch slap to the face! I cried a little bit when I was done and then I was okay. I just knew that that is what I needed to do. I felt as if divine providence had led me to that page. I cried a little more of immense gratitude and then resolved to dedicate myself completely to my little one the next day.
And I did. There was a lot of hugging, laughing, eye contact. We played games, read a lot of books, sang songs, went to the park and Whole Foods with Daddy who just added to the lovefest and then came home and ate together and talked. She fell asleep between us more peacefully than she had in a very long time.
Believe me ladies, when the guidance is not right in front of you, it is still out there to be found. Just be a little more patient and it will come.