Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weaning Has Me Worried Sick

My son had a bit of the sniffles this entire week. Nothing major, a low grade fever off and on for a day or so, a little bit of a drippy nose, waking up with a crust of boogers all over his face. He was never sick enough to stay home from daycare, although I gave him a dose of medicine once when he woke up in the middle of the night coughing.

Miles has had the occasional cold, starting from when he was a tiny thing, only three weeks old. My husband is a teacher so he brought home a bug, I caught it and passed it on to the baby. Because I was breastfeeding, the baby got the mildest form of the cold of all of us, but it was still hard to see him sick, struggling to nurse and breathe at the same time with a stuffy nose. But honestly, that's been the worst of it. Runny or stuffed noses, fevers, accompanied with clinginess and a desire to nurse non-stop. We've never had a case of diarrhea, no puking, no ear infections. His pediatrician has even remarked that he has the thinnest medical file of a kid in daycare he's ever seen.

I was talking to another mom once about poop (what else?) and she said how the worst poop she's ever smelled is when her kids were on antibiotics. "Am I right?" she asked. "Isn't it awful?" She was totally stunned when I told her that my son has never been on antibiotics so I couldn't say.

Breastfeeding has really been the best thing ever for keeping my son healthy. And though after three years I have HAD.ENOUGH. I'm totally afraid to wean him. Because I know the second we stop nursing, something catastrophic will happen.

I've heard the horror stories from too many moms to not know how this will end. You wean your  kid, then he gets the plague and you no longer even have breastfeeding as a way to comfort him. I know women who have nursed their kids until they self-weaned and wham! next thing you know, the kid ends up in the hospital with something awful.

It makes sense, in a way. The research shows a child's immune system isn't fully formed until about age 5 and most of us don't nurse for that long (and I have NO desire to be nursing a kid who's in kindergarten....NONE). At some point you're probably going to have a child whose immune system isn't yet completely developed, who is covered in a coating of germs from his classmates and playmates and who is no longer breastfeeding. That is a recipe for disaster and I wonder how long we can make it unscathed.

So for now, although I'm ready to be done, I'm sticking it out a little longer, for the health of my son. At least through the end of flu season.  I hope.

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