Weaning

 

On December 31, I nursed Vicki for the last time. Then I cried.

When I started nursing, I set a goal for one year. It seemed like the perfect amount of time: it was the duration recommended by the AAP, and then she would be old enough for whole milk. When she was born, I didn’t expect to make it past a year. I didn’t expect to want to breastfeed past a year. Then we settled into a nice little routine, and it became something I enjoyed more and more. Sure, we had a few mishaps, but overall I loved nursing.

I never had a huge amount of milk, but I didn’t struggle with low supply issues either. I am fortunate enough to stay at home and rarely had to hook myself up to The Machine the pump. Vicki was always interested in eating as long as there was nobody else in the room.

So why did we wean, then?

The short answer is, I got pregnant with VonBoy. That was right after her birthday, and things started changing. It’s also around the time Vicki started drinking cow’s milk and we started using a babysitter. I think all of these together facilitated the process.

I knew I didn’t want to tandem nurse a toddler and a newborn. It just isn’t for me at this point in my life. I accepted the fact that she was now eating 3 meals plus 1-2 snacks every day and was no longer getting the majority of her calories from breast milk. And when we left her with the babysitter, she always reported that Vicki wasn’t interested in the bottle of breast milk I left behind. Whenever we nursed, Vicki would start hitting my boobs, as if she was trying to get more milk out of them. (Either that, or she just liked beating me up.)

How did we wean?

A month after her birthday, we were still nursing 3-4 times every day: first thing in the morning, before naps (we were transitioning from 2 to 1 nap) and right before bed. At first, we dropped the session in the morning. It was easy to just grab her out of bed and bring her straight downstairs for breakfast. She never even knew what hit her! One minute, she’d be looking for the boob, and the next she’d be in her high chair with a sippy of milk, a banana, and a pancake.

Dropping the pre-nap session was more difficult. She was used to nursing herself to sleep (oops) and she didn’t know how to sleep without the boob. We went through a lot of naps where I’d rock her or wear her until she fell asleep, then transfer her to the crib. After almost two months of this, she figured it out.

The last session to go was the pre-bed nurse, and that was more me holding onto it than her. This was about the time she started hitting my boobs while nursing and biting my nipples. It wasn’t in a malicious way. I think that either there wasn’t a lot of milk or that it tasted funny due to pregnancy.

I had to give myself a deadline to quit nursing as I was so sentimentally attached. I decided on December 31 – the last day of the year, the last day of breastfeeding. That night, I rocked her quietly in the chair instead of playing games on my phone during our session. I stroked her hair and cried. Tears for happiness that I got the opportunity to nurse her. Tears of pride in my body for sustaining her and helping her grow. Tears of sadness that my baby girl was growing up. To her credit, she was a perfect angel that evening. When she was finished, she popped off and we snuggled together, then I put her into her crib and snuck out.

Our Bedtime Routine Now

Nursing was a part of her bedtime routine for so long that I was nervous how she’d react without it. I did everything else the same – bath, jammies, brush teeth, books, songs – and just eliminated the nursing part. It didn’t matter one bit. She went down that night like a champ.

I’m so glad I gave her the chance to wean herself. I nudged her along a little bit, but the fact that she transitioned so easily to not nursing tells me that she was ready to be done. As for me, I’m enjoying wearing regular bras for the time being, and looking forward to starting it all over again in June!

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  • Alanna B

    Aw…Im working on trying to figure out how to wean my 11 month old. My goal was 6 months and that came and went. Now I’d like to start switching her to cow’s milk instead. Only problem is she is very attached to me. Nursed to sleep, when upset, etc. I hate the thought of my lil one growkng up but it needs to happen. I would like to get out of the cosleeping habit too. I just dont know where to begin on any of it. My son was so easy. He liked bottles or nursing, all that mattered was he got fed. He snuggled in bed with me, but he liked his crib too. So now my lil girl has made me feel like a 1st time mom all over again!

    • Anonymous

      What a little sweetheart! My advice would be to do it gradually. Can you choose to wean or stop cosleeping first and instead of doing it all at once? Or you could wait a little longer to do either – there’s nothing wrong with that!
      When we introduced cow’s milk, we did it with meals and started with a 75% BM 25% cow’s milk ratio and slowly made it all cow’s milk. It worked out well and Vicki had no issues drinking cow’s milk.
      Good luck!!