Posted by: heartfull | August 29, 2008

How (not) to Wean

I went to my OB/GYN earlier this week for my yearly checkup. I had been waiting for a couple weeks to do this as I was eager to get on The Pill. My dermatologist had told me it would help with my acne and since I was experiencing side effects from my topical medicine, Azelex, I figured I wouldn’t be able to continue to use it.

Unfortunately, Dr. L told me I couldn’t take the estrogen-based Pill, which is the formula that helps with acne, while nursing.


I called my dermatologist’s office yesterday. After trying a slew of acne medications (that were safe to use while nursing), this one seemed to work at least somewhat. But, I had begun to worry that the side effects from the Azelex were getting worse and, while no one could see them since they were under my hair, the flakiness, burning sensation and sticky discharge were getting worse. Bad enough that I’m worried my hair might start to fall out. The nurse was, to say the least, incredulous:

Sara: I’m experiencing some side effects from the Azelex. My scalp is itchy and flaky and it has started to burn and seep now.

Nurse: Azelex? That is a topical cream for your face! You aren’t putting it on your scalp are you?

Sara: No.

Nurse: Well, then, it can’t be from the Azelex. I’ve never heard of such a thing.

Sara: It is from the Azelex. It started within a couple days of starting the medicine and it worsens if I apply it twice a day instead of once a day. But it works pretty well if I use it twice a day but not so much if I use it once a day.

Nurse: Well, I’ve just never heard of a side effect being in a different area. How long have you been having these symptoms? I see Dr. M prescribed it in April.

Sara: Since April.

Nurse: Sara!

Sara: Yeah, I know, but Dr. M had also told me this was a last resort – I don’t have any options left until I wean my baby. So, I just want to know if I should take a break from it and try again in a couple days (my face will be a mess by that time) or cut back to once per day or every other day, or if I have to stop all together which, by the way, is the WRONG answer. Don’t let her tell me that.

Nurse: I see. I’ll call you back.

Nurse I’ve-never-heard-of-that called me back and told me that Dr. M said to stop taking the Azelex immediately and to call and make an appointment when the baby is weaned.


Driving home, I decided it is time to wean “the baby”. The three year old baby, that is. I had fully intended to wean him before he turned three – in fact, I made this part clear to myself over a year ago – I would nurse him until he was three. But three rolled around and well, the kid is just not ready.

He loves his num-nums. It comforts him when he is sad, angry, scared and hurt. It helps him celebrate my return after an absence (like the 5 hours I’m at work…) It helps him fall asleep.

I sat him down yesterday afternoon and explained to him that I needed to take some medicine that I can’t take while nursing him, and so he would have to wean. “I don’t want to” he told me. And my heart broke.

I am, though, determined. I am also, though, guilt-ridden. I don’t have to take this medicine. I want to take this medicine. And when does a mom every put her wants before her child’s without feeling guilty about it?


I lasted 16 hours. I shouldn’t have caved. But he cried while clawing at me and begged “Just one more time, mommy!” And, considering that my pajamas and bed were soaked with leaked breast milk, it was 4:00 am and I just wanted to sleep, and that my beautiful baby was begging me to do something that just felt so right, I gave in.

Today is a new day, though. I won’t give in again because I know from experience that it only makes the process more drawn out.

It is hard, though.



  1. While I have never nursed for that long, I completely understand the pain of weaning! I don’t think I could handle it if my baby told me he didn’t want to quit! Be strong. You can do it. You need to do it for yourself. Sometimes putting yourself first is necessary!

  2. You’re such a great mom to have nursed for this long. Most moms wean their children much earlier, which I’m sure you know.

    I don’t think it is unreasonable of you to want to wean now, but I do think it would be better to approach it gradually. Start with some limitations (e.g. you can’t nurse between naptime and bedtime) and slowly increase the times when you don’t nurse. He’ll take it better that way and you’ll feel better about it afterwards too.

  3. Huge hugs to you Sara. I had to go through a very similar thing with K at almost 3. It is great that you did nurse him this long. I know that it is hard now, but soon it will be OK.

  4. Nice blog…

  5. […] worst way.  My skin has been less than fresh since visiting the dermatologist last fall after my disasterous encounter with Azelex.  She had me rotating three different kinds of shampoo and applying a steroid to my […]

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