The Matter of Weaning
This is a bit late in coming. Redmond is almost a year and a half old, and he weaned about three months ago. But part of my goal for this year is to get back into more “lifestyle” type posts, and to be honest, although I love style and try to at least put myself together every day, the thing that really occupies most of my time is mothering. I have worked with children since I was thirteen years old. I have a lot of “theories” about raising them…but until you have your own, all of that is just ideas and words. The past few months have been so exciting for me because I can finally put into real practice some of my ideas.
But when it came to breastfeeding, I knew basically nothing. I wrote about my journey a bit last year, but I just remember so vividly spending hours on the internet trying to find something that would encourage me while I was crying over the fact that I was using a nipple shield and that it hurt and that Redmond took an age to finish nursing when he was little.
So first off. We used the nipple shield until we weaned. I had PLENTY of milk (it took me two months to stop producing) and Red got all that he needed. So. If you can’t get your baby off the nipple shield or just don’t want to undergo the trauma of screaming baby while you attempt to shove your boob into babies mouth without the shield, just stop worrying about it. I spent so much time being afraid that people would judge me or think that I “wasn’t doing it right” because of the shield but…you know what? Who cares.
Anyways. On to the actual topic of this post. I was terrified to wean. I was scared it would turn my happy baby into a terror. I had visions of Redmond pulling at my clothes, trying to wrench my boobs out, and me feeling like a milk machine but also like a mean mama. I wanted to wean when he was ready…but I also wanted to wean when I was ready. I had planned on going longer with Red, but I started wanting to begin trying for another baby and my body wasn’t able to nurse and return to a normal cycle. This is different for everyone…but even when we were only nursing for five minutes a day, I wasn’t getting a period and I figured the only way to get back to normal would be weaning. In November, we had a wedding to go to, and I wanted Redmond to be able to go to sleep without nursing first so he wouldn’t give his grandparents a hard time while they babysat. I was really dragging my heels, but one night I just didn’t nurse him. He had eaten a big dinner, we had read some books, he snuggled my shoulder, I gave him his sippy cup of water, and laid him down. And he didn’t cry. He just went to sleep. And slept his usual twelve hours. And just like that, we were done. He never asked for it again. He never even hinted that he was interested. Now, maybe Redmond just didn’t care about nursing. Or maybe his intense love for solid food just swayed him away. But since he started on solids at around six months, I nudged Redmond towards being a pretty scheduled eater. We always nursed in the same spot (on the daybed in his room) and nowhere else. Because of that, when we were out and about or in any other room ofthe house he never tried to nurse. And for me, that was important. I loved breastfeeding, but I also liked maintaining my independence. I dropped his nursing sessions slowly– for a long time we were doing three a day– once when he woke up, before his nap, and before bed. I gently weaned him off of those first two over a matter of months and stuck with the final nurse until he was almost fifteen months old. And that was that. I didn’t replace the nurses with bottles– he never took them well — I just gave him little snacks or meals.
I really worried that when we were done nursing, I would desperately miss that snuggle time with Red. But now he actually cuddles me…he loves sitting on my lap for stories. He loves lying in bed with me. Before I lay him down for bed at night, I whisper a prayer into his ear while I hold him, and he nuzzles his head into my neck and it is such a sweet closeness that somehow means more to me…because he is cuddling me for me. Which feels so special. I still miss the essence of breastfeeding– knowing that I am building and nourishing a child–but it makes me look forward to a second infant that much more. And that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say I think. I would LOVE to answer any questions if you’re a new mom just starting out nursing. It was a hard journey for me but so deeply worth it. And I’d love to hear about your journeys as well! And I’m going to stop saying journey. Ok. Happy almost weekend!
Reds blanket: c/o Audreys Bear