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The Rise & Fall of the Boob Civilization

AND THEN, on top of everything else, the baby weaned.

It's been a long time coming. It's been a long time happening. It ended this morning, officially, when I finally realized that it is time to stop trying for that Last Chance Nursing Session, Come On, Really? You're Really Done Here? No, You're Not, Take It. TAAAAKE IT.

Yes, it is time to stop doing that. Better now than in kindergarten, when it just gets hella awkward.

The weaning started with a biting phase. A biting phase that started the day he sprouted fangs teeth and ended, oh, THIS MORNING. The biting was unlike anything the books and websites described, and there was no solution offered that ever worked, other than yank 'em off and glare at him tiredly. (My favorite "solution" that I read about involved wagging your finger and sternly saying "No biting!," which never failed to make the little sociopath crack the hell up.) During the worst of it, I got so sick of being bitten -- and bitten HARD -- and so tired of spending every nursing moment clenched up in anticipation of the biting, with my fingers poised for a rapid de-latching that I started giving him a bottle of formula mid-day, just so I could have a break, relax and uncurl my toes. I tried pumping to replace the feeding but found that after the early months of being a veritable milk machine, I could not produce a single drop via the pump.

One bottle eventually turned into two bottles. His appetite for solids ramped up to a level I could not believe. He was slow-ish to sit up and roll over and crawl but when it came to anything food or eating-related he was an off-the-charts prodigy. Fruits, vegetables, meats, finger foods, real foods, sippy cups. He loved it all, and he wanted more. He ate and ate and ate and nursing slowly became relegated to a comfort-only thing. In the morning, before naps, before bed. Sometimes he'd still demand a bottle afterward. My period came back. My supply plummeted, he bit me and pull away in frustration, he was distracted and twisty and kicked me in the c-section scar and I would lie in bed nursing while he stood up, sticking his butt in the air, as if he hoped to walk off with my boob to someplace more interesting. I knew that if I simply stopped offering, he would not notice.

And yet, I could not, would not wean him. I don't know why. I was talking to some other mothers this weekend -- some still nursing, others who had weaned -- about how I knew Ezra was weaning but I couldn't seem to stop trying to get him to nurse one more time, just a little bit, in hopes that it was just a phase. I told them about the biting and the flailing and I saw the looks on their faces and I finally had one of those moments where a hologram of myself floated out of my body to slap me across the face and say ARE YOU LISTENING TO YOURSELF?

And then I went home and tried to nurse him before bed once again.

Perhaps it's because I believed the websites that went on and on about how "highly unusual" it is for a baby to wean before 12 months, and oh, THIS: "when a mother says that her baby self-weaned before a year, there is a chance that she interpreted a normal developmental stage (perhaps combined with her own wishes) as baby's wish to wean." I'll tell you what, this sentence made me vaguely stabby while I was still nursing, and it's not looking any better to me now. You lying liar! You tell lies to make yourself feel better! You lie to cover up your -- gasp! -- OWN WISHES!

My wishes were to nurse for at least a year. At least. Probably longer. Though if you asked me I'd say that I wanted to nurse according to Ezra's wishes, until he didn't want to nurse anymore, within reason. It simply never occurred to me that his wishes could or would be different than mine. Oh, self.

And so I told myself that Ezra wasn't weaning, that the biting was a phase, the distraction was a phase, and all I had to do was hang on for just a little while longer, we could get back to enjoying breastfeeding again. Like we used to. Since I wasn't so sure I enjoyed it now.

I debated leaving him home during BlogHer. To just wean him then and be done with it. But then the thought of coming home and having him turn towards me expectantly and having nothing to give HURT MY SOUL and I packed him up and carted him (and a package of formula) to Chicago.

I debated it again, over our anniversary. And I still couldn't do it and dutifully returned to the hotel room several times a day to pump.

I came home with completely empty breastmilk containers and a baby who did not turn towards me expectantly. I pulled him into our rocking chair and he settled into my arms and sighed and...sucked his thumb. And fell asleep.

That probably should have been it, but I just couldn't...stop. I could occasionally get him to latch for a few minutes and I could hear him swallow and I would think that oh! No! I better stick with it! Just in case! We can do this! We can make it to a year! Two more months, dude. Give me two more months and a nice solid round number and then you can have all the Red Bulls and Coke Zero you want, I swear.

It finally dawned on me a few days ago that Ezra is not just weaning from me. He is weaning from bottles. Also a "highly unusual" thing for a baby under 12 months to do. But he's just not that into them. A few ounces here and there and then he wants to crawl away, leave multiple ounces of liquid money behind to fester in a bottle kicked under the couch. This has possibly unnerved me even more, because kid: I know you have the appetite of a five-year-old and the palate of a 35-year-old, but you still have the nutritional needs of a 10-month-old and YOU NEED YOUR MILKS. Baby cannot live by turkey-sausage-with-kale fettuccine alone! Your...brain! It needs the...DHA and...uh...ARA and whatever!

A few months ago he'd only take a bottle if I wasn't in the house. Now he'll drink formula out of a sippy cup with his meals, and take a bottle only when he's tired. He wants to walk and explore more than anything in the world, and he doesn't want to nurse. He will, if I insist, but I need to stop insisting, to stop waiting for him to make it even MORE CLEAR that he is done, and just accept that he is done.

So. Okay. I will change my Twitter picture and pack away the nursing bras that I haven't worn in ages anyway and the pump that doesn't work for me anymore and I will talk about breastfeeding in the past tense. I am not a nursing mother anymore.


When we moved from the city to the suburbs, I was sad. But I didn't miss the three flights of stairs to our condo and the one bathroom and the tiny kitchen and the roaches and the horrible old windows and the street parking and the tickets and the terrible supermarket that never had anything fresh and how you had to drive 20 minutes to get to a gas station that charged less than $5 a gallon.

But the worst moment was at the DMV, when they asked for my DC license back so they could issue me my new one, my non-DC, boring old giant nondescript state one. A state that I felt no connection to, while that DC license was more than an ID. It was an identity. My identity as a city person. In that moment, it didn't matter about all the less-than-awesome things I no longer had to deal with. My life in the city became glorious and idealized, the best years of my life, a time I still look back on and rhapsodize about how perfect it was and how much I miss it.


Dear Ezra,

Thank you for 10 of the most perfect, healing, powerful and lovely months I've ever known. I will always cherish them, and you.




fluffy windover

"I would lie in bed nursing while he stood up, sticking his butt in the air, as if he hoped to walk off with my boob to someplace more interesting."

this made me fall out laughing. my son (11 mo.) totally does that. he treats my boobs like a water fountain at the playground.


Older son couldn't nurse. Tried pumping for 5 weeks until I ran dry. Developed PPD. Fast forward 2.5 years. Younger son nursed like he'd been doing it for YEARS. Had a night nurse that yelled at me because he "wasn't nursing long enough". Nursed for exactly 51 weeks at which time he flat out refused to nurse. Took the boob one night, refused it the next morning and never ever took it again. It was actually kinda lucky b/c two days later I was diagnosed with psoriasis and was told to stop breastfeeding so that I could apply corticosteroids. But, OMG, the engorgement!


Gah, I hear you.

Not only did my son self-wean at nine months, loooooooong before I wanted him to, he also stopped NAPPING at seven months.

I'll just waut here for a minute while you think about that.

Seven month child, up at 7 am. Seven month old child, down at 8 pm. AND NO NAP IN BETWEEN.

Feel better yet?

Okay, all kidding aside (although I wasn't actually kidding), those damn self-weaning babies MUST be stopped. When my son rejected the breast, I died inside. Yeah, we were already down to just one good feeding a day plus a few fussy rejections, but still, at least I had THAT. How could my sweet, angelic, glorious baby reject the breast that had sustained him for so long, the times he nursed his fill while looking in to my eyes and playing with my long hair while I cooed at him?
DAMN YOU, child, you will NOT reject me like this.

Sigh...but sometimes they do. And in the end, it's still all good. I promise.


Meh, my son did that to me, weaned his biting, disinterested self at ten months leaving me crushed.

Give yourself a month and you'll feel better about it. I'm sorry we gave birth to such stinkers.

Oddly, his lack of nursing has NOT interrupted his extreme interest in groping me. Constantly. With his pudgy little 17 month hands. I just can't bring myself to stop letting him either. I'm so weird.

Trout Towers

Sugarplum weened herself and was drinking from a cup and eating pad thai by her first birthday. No lie.


The last time I nursed my son, I made my husband take pictures. It was right after BlogHer 06. Apparently in the three days I was gone, he realized he didn't need me like that anymore and so I cajoled him to nurse for a minute even though he was just doing it for comfort and my husband snapped away. It was bittersweet, to say the least.


I have a feeling this will be me soon. Thanks for this, lady.


Amy, you made me cry. My 9 month old (on the 24th) is doing all the things you describe, the biting, pulling away and disinterest THIS WEEK and I'm beside myself (his sister stopped long ago)...these twins are the last babies I'll ever have (I had a tubal) and I'm not DONE dammit. How dare he just up and decide that he doesn't need to nurse anymore without having a civilized, rational discussion about it with me?

Lori M

(((((hugs)))))!!! My oldest weaned at 10/11 months also. On his own. I tried several times after HE was done, and he looked at the boob, and me, like I was crazy. It broke my heart too. He went straight to milk (per my pediatrician's instructions) b/c he wasn't "having" any of the formula. Nursing is an amazing experience...a connection that those who don't do it, don't quite understand. Thinking of you during this time!!!!

Catherine S

10 months ROCKS!!! You did it and Ezra is a thriving little boy. I heart hooters too.

Beth at I Should Be Folding Laundry

You are seriously the sweetest.

I'm so glad both you and Ezra had such a great experience.


I feel your pain. Literally. My daughter is 9 months and bites as well. More than just biting, she tears up my nipples. I have cuts (teethmarks!) and bruises, and now thrush (from the cuts!), but I am determined to make it to 2 years. I do remember, from my son, that biting is a phase she'll get over (soon hopefully).

I only made it to 14.5 months with my son, when my milk supply plummeted (I started giving him a bottle in the evening, which caused this) and he weaned.


My three weaned at 7, 8 and 10 months, in that order,(and I was really stretching it on the last one). I read about the whole "highly unusual" early weaning phenomenon and laughed. They were so DONE it wasn't funny. I shrugged and said, OK, thanks for my boobs back.

There is NO way I would let anyone make me feel bad about the amt of breast feeding I did. We each loved every minute of it while it lasted, and I know full well the benefits they received from it. [The first one was a 4 pound, 34 week preemie - So, yeah, go ahead and try to make me feel bad for 'only' going 7 months on that one! Not going to happen]

Whatever breastfeeding you do - 10 days, 10 weeks, or 10 months. It's all beneficial and represents a great gift to start out a child's life.

Good job Mommy Amalah!!

Also, I love how you've only 'packed away' those nursing bras. Yes, that's totally how I ended up with three!

Upper West Side Mom

Just a thought.....

There are many reasons why a baby will bite when they are nursing. One of the reasons Ezra may have started to bite was because your supply was low. If you had built up your supple the biting very well may have stopped.

You might want to consider relactating. It is very likely that with more of a supply Ezra would go back to the breast (especially if he was not getting any bottles and you were giving him liquids with a sippy cup) You would need to start pumping (about 8 times a day. I know it sounds like a lot but you can keep human milk out in a room less than 72 degrees for 6 hours before it goes bad so you don't have to keep cleaning the pump every time you pump) and take an herbal supplement called more milk. I know many babies who have weaned at 9 to 12 months who's mom's have done this and they went on to continue nursing for a good while longer.


Good for you, Amy! Now fix that boy some meat and potatoes.


Oh, the weaning hurts :( In more ways than one. My baby just turned one on July 31, but she weaned herself at about 10 1/2 months. I sooo wanted to nurse her to a year, or longer, if I could. But she just didn't want to. I remember the last session I fed her, it was torture. She kept twisting away and pushing at me and crying for me to let her go. At the next session I broke down and gave her a bottle. I was really hoping she's make a face and turn away looking for the good stuff...but nope. She sighed with relief and sucked on that bottle like it was the drink of the Gods. My period had also come back at that time, and I think it changes the taste of the milk or something, at least I've heard that's true. My twins also weaned themselves at around 10 months and 11 1/2 months, all of them at that time of the month. I tried with all three of them to make it work...through the biting and all, but when they can't stand the taste anymore it's all over but the shouting :(

Sorry you didn't make it to 12. Prepare yourself for the hormone crash. It sucks.


Just wanted to let you know my son is the same way. He's 11 months, and has been so over bottles for at least a month now. He's the first one I've had that has successfully used a sippy cup long before he turned 1. And the nursing? I'm so sick of the fight. He gets way too distracted and it's just too tiring trying to keep him at it. I have always been the one to nurse until a year and then be done...because I'm not particularly fond of it. But I always make it to a year and even a little past that. So even though I would love to be done, I'm just not ready to be done...does that make sense? Anyway, thanks for giving me the courage to go with the baby...he's ready for big-boy stuff!

And the books are all wrong...babies not self-weaning before a year? That's crap!


I saw your twitter posts. Our school doesn't bill us for OT. They bill our insurance and then the state program. The rest, they just write off. Now, we're a bit far from you (NC) but I'm wondering if there isn't another "great" school that isn't going to take advantage of you. Also...ask the school system about other financial aid resources. There has to be a way to get OT paid for. Maybe a local student needs some practical hours...you could contact the local Occupation Therapy departments at the closest schools. It just seems like you're getting shafted over a therapy that is often just very basic stuff done on a frequent basis.

shriek house

Ooooh heartbreak. I remember when my kids turned away too, how sad and bereft I felt, even though it was time. xoxo

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