8.02.2011

Breastfeeding and Me, Part IV

I couldn't consider this series complete without discussing my thoughts about weaning. Since I'm currently going through this process, I thought I'd share my experiences and ask for any advice/input/experiences from others.

(For links to the rest of the posts, check here, here, and here.)

I had been asked how long I intended to nurse Lucas. To be honest, I never really had any firm idea. At first, I was hoping to make it more than 3 months (longer than I made it with Kyle). Then, I wanted to make it six months. Then, I hoped to make it to a year. My goal length kept increasing by tiny bits.

Then, Lucas turned one. He was really only nursing between 2-3 times a day, and usually only to go to sleep for his nap or for the night. Occasionally he would want to nurse other times during the day (especially on days when he was having a particularly rough time with cutting new teeth), but it was usually only when we were at home. Plus, he still seemed so young and dependent that it broke my heart to think about cutting him off when he still needed me so much. So, I decided I'd hold off on actively trying to wean him and take more of a "don't offer, don't refuse" stance. I even went as far as thinking I would nurse him until I got pregnant again (which we were planning for sometime during the next year).

Basically, I was avoiding trying to actively wean him. I was afraid that it would end up being a huge fight...and why make my life harder when it wasn't really hurting anything to keep nursing him?

Then, last week, Lucas started walking. On Saturday, we moved him into a toddler bed and into his brother's room. These little assertions of his independence changed the way he nursed. Instead of nursing to sleep before his nap and before bed, he would nurse for a minute, and then fall asleep on his own. In fact, he wasn't even mad if I DIDN'T nurse him to sleep--it just didn't seem to matter as much to him. He hasn't really asked to nurse at other times during the day either. So, I took that as a signal that weaning him wouldn't be such a battle.

Sunday night was the first real time that I tried putting him to sleep without nursing. He cried, but I think it was more because he was overtired and was fighting sleep. After a few minutes, he fell asleep. I was totally amazed. Yesterday for naps he cried even less before falling asleep. It's been far easier than I thought it would be. I either underestimated Lucas' ability to adapt to change or I overestimated his attachment to me.

Am I sad? A little bit. Nursing Lucas has been such an enriching experience. It's made me feel powerful--after all, I was MAKING FOOD for another human being for an entire year. It's a singular experience, and I feel so privileged to have been able to breastfeed Lucas for so long. I hope that I'll be able to be as successful with the rest of my children.

Of course, I certainly won't miss the nursing pads (because yeah, I needed them ALL the way to the end), the intermittent soreness, sharing my body all the time, and the extra 10 or so pounds that stuck around because I was nursing (I was not one of the lucky ones who shed pounds without effort because of breastfeeding. I was just the opposite).

Breastfeeding moms, how did your weaning experiences pan out? What worked for you? What will you try differently? How did you feel when your child (or children) weaned?

2 comments:

that's what she said...

it was fast! he wouldn't take a bottle/sippy cup until 11 months old and the minute he did i was done for fear that it was just a fluke. he never looked back. but it doesn't mean that i didn't miss it-I still do. but, now that i know how to make it work for me, i'm all the more ready for when we have our next kid. :) glad things went well!

Carl and Steph said...

I am so glad you took the time to write this "series." It is excellent. Thank you for saying many of the things I have thought but never took the time to write down. After spending some time with non-nursing moms it's refreshing to know there are other moms out there who feel so similarly convicted about breastfeeding. You're awesome.

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