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Self-Weaning at 16 Months

To be completely honest, when I first heard of babies who self-weaned, I was all, “How does that happen?” Well, curiosity killed the cat indeed, because I found out the hard way how THAT happens, and it still breaks my heart that Didi no longer wants me to nurse him.

It all started when the twins came down with the dreaded HFMD. The first night, the babies were fussing and crying so much that I had to take both of them to the playroom, and we hung out there the entire night. They took turns to be nursed, and it felt like I was nursing non-stop. I was exhausted, and ended up playing YouTube videos on my iPad to distract them. Their favourite video was the super annoying Baby Shark one, and I played it on loop, just so I could close my eyes for a while.

Finally asleep after a terribly rough night

The next day was horrible, as they both refused to eat or even be nursed. They cried a lot, but I didn’t know what was wrong. The night was even more brutal, as C was away on a business trip, and even though my godma was staying with us, the twins would wake up crying almost every hour, and both only wanted me to hold them.

At about 5/6am, I left Didi asleep on the bed, and brought Meimei out to the living room as she was crying. Shortly after I left the room, I heard a loud thud, followed by Didi wailing loudly. The twins have both fallen off the bed numerous times, so I wasn’t overly concerned, but when Didi threw up twice after that, I panicked. I sent out a couple of WhatsApp messages, and someone suggested that I head to Brawijaya Women and Children Hospital, so I brought both babies there. I was worried that they were dehydrated, since they both hadn’t eaten or had milk/water in almost two days, and was especially afraid that Didi had a concussion.

The ER doctor examined both of them, and said they had many ulcers in their throats, which explained why they refused to eat or drink. He said Didi didn’t have a concussion, but wanted to run blood tests on both of them, to see if they had a viral or bacterial infection, as the latter would require antibiotics. Their blood work apparently showed that they had a really bad bacterial infection, and they had to be warded so that they could get glucose and meds administered intravenously.

To cut a long story short, it was a real nightmare for all of us. The babies were poked umpteen times, and were so traumatised that they cried at the sight of a nurse or doctor.

At the hospital

Meimei started nursing again on the first day we were hospitalised, but Didi absolutely refused to go near my boob. He became dehydrated, and we had to force-feed him water, as they couldn’t manage to put an IV line into his hands or feet. I kept offering him my boob, and even squeezed some milk into a cup for him, but he just refused to drink it. I think he must have associated breastfeeding with the pain he felt, and was just too scared to try again.

Self-weaning so abruptly caused Didi to go bonkers, as he was a real boob addict, and nursing was usually the only thing that could soothe him to sleep. Didi struggled to fall asleep, and when he woke up in the middle of the night, he would cry pitifully for ages, because he just couldn’t go back to sleep on his own. I cannot tell you how many times my heart broke into pieces, seeing him so miserable, especially when he went bonkers seeing Meimei being nursed. He would throw himself at me, and try to lie on top of Meimei to get her to unlatch, and screamed when someone else carried him away.

To get over his nursing addiction, Didi became addicted to watching the Baby Shark video, and going out. Our helper and driver gave in to him all the time, bringing him out for walks whenever he whined and pointed at the door, but we didn’t want him to get used to it, so we told them not to. Didi is really single-minded, and it’s very hard to distract him once he has his mind set on doing something, but we were determined to break his video and going out addiction, so we just kept saying no to him.

The first night we were home after the hospital stay, Didi wanted to watch the Baby Shark video to fall asleep. C told him no, and he cried, screamed, and begged for a whole hour! It was scary seeing him so desperate, but after that night, he no longer asked for the video.

I harboured plenty of hope that Didi would want to be nursed again after his ulcers subsided, and kept offering him my boob on a regular basis, but it’s been more than a month since he suddenly self-weaned, and he doesn’t show any interest at all in being nursed anymore. I’ve cried a couple of times about it, and even asked C if we should have another baby, (to which he asked incredulously, “Just so you can breastfeed again?”) but I guess this is probably it for my breastfeeding journey with Didi. I still have a tiny bit of hope that he will change his mind when he’s older, but deep down, I know that’s highly unlikely.

Thankfully, Meimei is still happy to be nursed by me, and although she’s not as addicted to it as Didi was, I’m thankful for her. Many people whom I’ve spoken to have told me that I’m nuts for being sad that Didi self-weaned, since he’s already 16 months old, but I nursed N till he was almost three years old, and I love the closeness of breastfeeding all three of my kids.

I was hoping to nurse both Didi and Meimei till they were three too, since they are most likely our last babies, but I guess I shouldn’t have assumed that both of them would be as easygoing as N. I’m still really heartbroken about Didi, maybe because it was so sudden, and I didn’t know that our last nursing session was THE last one. I can’t even remember when it was, and what makes it worse is that I think I was probably really annoyed with him at that time, because he had been glued to my boob almost throughout the night that night, when he was sick. There’s a lot of guilt too, because of how I was upset with them for being so difficult then. On hindsight, I should have been more patient and comforted them more, but I was super sleep-deprived, and all that wailing and clinging on to me had gotten to me.

Oblivious to Mummy’s misery

After Didi self-weaned, I found myself at a loss as to how to soothe him whenever he got into one of his crying frenzies, especially when he was tired but couldn’t fall asleep on his own. C told me point-blank that I had to stop rejecting Didi and choosing Meimei at bedtime, just because Meimei wanted to be nursed. They both need me equally, and I should continue being the one to calm Didi down, or he wouldn’t even want me next time. Our routine now is for Didi to roll around on the bed next to me, until he falls asleep on his own. I’ve tried carrying him, singing to him, and rocking him, but he cries and struggles out of my arms, so I guess he just wants to be near me, and to fall asleep on his own terms. Like I said, this boy really has a mind of his own!

The only good thing that has come out of this self-weaning episode is that Didi now eats a lot. He finishes a large bowl of cereal or porridge effortlessly, then proceeds to snack on puffs, biscuits, and fruits. He has also regained all the weight he lost when he was ill, and his cheeks look chubbier now.


My baby boy

I pray that Meimei won’t self-wean, because I don’t think my heart can handle it!

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