I've been trying to write this post for a few days now and wasn't even really sure where to begin because this is something so dear and important to my heart. But I knew I had to share this because I know there are other mamas struggling with this decision every day and I hope that at the very least I can help them with the process, or at the very least, give them comfort that what they are feeling is normal. So, here I go.
We always document the firsts. First smile, first tooth, first step, first word, first day of school.
But the lasts? We rarely know when those have passed us by.
I’m not sure if it’s worse to know it’s your last time- or have that fleeting moment pass you by quickly.
My heart feels like it’s in pieces because our nursing relationship is over. A part of me has been waiting for this moment for months. Waiting for this independence. Waiting to actually sleep. Waiting to have my body back. But on the other hand, the snuggles. the closeness. The moments I cherish would be over. For those of you who did breastfeed (and enjoyed it), you know that your nursing defines your relationship with your child for so long, and without it, you feel lost. It's like home.
My oldest weaned himself at 13 months and almost without warning which was hard- never “knowing” it was my last time with him. I always wished I knew and could have savored that last time. This time around, I was the one to slowly start the process and it sure wasn’t easy. In any way- mentally, physically, emotionally. I loved those moments where it was just him and I. Even though I was exhausted, I already miss those middle of the night snuggles; where the world stopped and it was just him and I, in our chair.
It’s so crazy how there is so much information and help “how to” breastfeed.. but when it comes to weaning? I felt so lost- and I know other women are in this boat. My hope is that there are breastfeeding mamas out there, even just one, that reads this and gains something out of it- even if its just a moment of relief that your feelings are completely normal.
Motherhood is this crazy balancing act of trying to hold on to each and every moment, but also celebrating any milestone in which you gain an ounce of independence back into your life. And its hard. Really. Really. Hard.
I'm sure you're all wondering why I would wean if I was so attached to it, and am so torn up inside about it.
Seb is slowly approaching 18 months and I first and foremost am exhausted. I loved my nighttime snuggles and miss them but 18 months is a long time to go without real solid sleep.
Secondly...actually do I really need a second reason? lol #sleeptrumpseverything
In all seriousness, Reason 2 is Seb and I have a pretty deep bond ...for obvious reasons. I think its been hard for my hubby to get time with Seb because he's always wanting me at night, before naps, bedtime..and a lot of the time it was spilling over into the day which wasn't fair to anyone in our family, including Max.
Additionally, I’ve been chomping at the bit to really get my body back 100%. I’m glad I was patient with the nursing and took my time because I would have regretted weaning him a few months earlier. I know in big scheme of things, a few months is just a blip on the radar. But...its time.
Lastly, the older he gets the more difficult it’s going to get to wean because everything is a routine in life including breastfeeding, and I didn't want to be in a situation where it’s really really difficult emotionally for him to wean.
I had a trip planned with just Max down to Florida with my parents and my niece who is 9 months older than Max. It took me awhile to commit to the trip because I was so torn leaving Seb behind for 5-6 days. But in the back of my mind I knew this would be the perfect opportunity for him to bond with my husband, wean him (if I could), and also have me some one on one time with Max. As I'm sure some of you know, you spend SO much time with your new baby the first year or so that your time with your oldest gets to be so limited. I knew I HAD to take this trip.
2.5 weeks before I left, I started dropping feeds. This really didn’t go very well. I started with the morning feed and every morning for almost 10 days straight he asked for “night night”. I tried to distract, distract, distract as much as I could with juice, vitamin gummies, etc! I think it was hard for him because he didn’t understand why I wouldn’t feed him in the morning but I would before nap, and at night. This is when I realized this trip would be perfect and drawing it out (weaning slowly over a 3-4 months period time) would almost be harder on both of us. I don’t want to say to go “cold turkey” as advice because I didn’t exactly do that-but like I said -I feel like he was confused and started wanting it more when I started dropping feeds. Going quicker (over a 3-4 week period) worked better for my baby and I.
I left the house the 2 days prior to leaving for my trip during his nap time and had someone else put him down so that eliminated the naptime feed. Cue to me leaving the house, and bursting into tears in the car because well, #allofthefeels.
My last time nursing Seb I tried to take in every second and bottle up the memory. I stayed with him a little longer than I would normally and just savored my time with him. I left for my trip on the Friday night and the first night he cried quite a bit, which was to be expected. I honestly had probably missed 15 nap/ bedtimes in 18 months! My husband comforted him as best as possible but as you know a change in routine is hard for anyone, especially a toddler. Each night it got better and by night 3 he wasn’t waking anymore.
I pumped twice a day at the start of the trip and then dropped down to once. When I got back home from the trip, before I put him down for a nap he asked for it and cried out a little for me when I left the room but he went to sleep which was a relief.
The hardest moment was that night- the first night I was back and put him down to bed without our nursing session for the first time. I felt so empty inside. Its so hard to explain but my heart literally hurt. But I knew it was the right time. He called my name for 3-5 mins.( tbh he does this sometimes after nursing anyway) He eventually fell asleep after a few minutes and slept through the night.
Once I got home, after my first night back, he asked for "night-night" 3 more times and hasn't looked back since. I still miss it, but its been great to have anyone put Seb down to bed/naptime and I definitely think Seb was able to bond with his father in ways that he woulden't have been able to otherwise. Also, we all sleep much better and everyone is more healthy when we are rested, including Seb :) We've settled into a routine and I think we are all adjusting pretty well.
From a physical standpoint, I was looking forward to weaning and getting the "surge" of energy I got after Max weaned. I think because I did more of a "mother led weaning" approach this time, the hormones really hit me hard. I felt like I was pregnant again (I'm not..lol!)..I felt so tired..like the debilitating 1st trimester tiredness. I finally am starting to feel much better now thankfully!
All in all, I feel so blessed to have had so many amazing moments with my boy breastfeeding and while this chapter has closed, I'm excited to see what the next one will bring....
love to you all and Happy Easter