Hmm... a blog about weaning. Exciting reading for a Friday night.
My goal was to nurse Ayla for a year and wean her around her first birthday. I'm so grateful to say that we made it! I know that breastfeeding isn't easy or possible for all moms, and even though it clicked right away for us, I never took for granted that we were able to do it for as long as we did.
In deciding to wean at a year, here are some of the things I was worried about or concerned with:
1) I didn't start her on dairy until her first birthday. I know a lot of people start their kids on yogurt and cheese earlier, and I probably should've, I just waited until one for a lot of things. So, I was concerned with how I was going to keep her hydrated during the transition from breast milk to cow's or another type of milk. Then, when I did give her cow's milk (fresh, raw, organic, delicious stuff!), she would have nothing to do with it.
2) She stopped drinking from a bottle at some point around 8 months. She never had confusion with a pacifier or bottle early on, but by that point she hadn't had a bottle in so long, and had already discovered the fun of straws, that she just wouldn't take a bottle. However, she didn't drink much of anything (pumped breast milk, diluted juice or water) from anything else. I tried several different sippy cups, and she would just drink one or two sips.
3) I'd read about different ways to wean, and had decided to save the bedtime feeding for last. The problem I anticipated was transitioning away from that when I didn't have her dad here to introduce her to a new routine at night that didn't involve nursing. The last several weeks, when we were down to just that once, she was clearly and quite frantically requesting it, which she had never done before.
4) One thing I loved about nursing was the confidence I had in knowing my baby was getting exactly what she needed from me, especially when she was sick or teething or just being picky and not eating much else. I wasn't as confident in anything else being able to supply that for her after we were done.
Compounding all these concerns was learning that she only gained three ounces from her 9-month-checkup to her one-year, which isn't unusual as babies get more active. It's just not something a mother likes to hear. When we went back to the doctor for a follow-up visit a month later, Ayla had lost weight! Really not what I was expecting! The doctor suggested I stop giving her water, which was all she would drink at that point, and give her something like formula, with more calories. Several of my friends suggested using coconut milk, and after a few days, she chugged the stuff down!
I was also experiencing the emotional toll of the hormone shift from the decrease in nursing, was feeling very mushy about her turning one, wondering if her increased fussiness was due to the weaning process or separation anxiety or teething or something else, and didn't want to lose any of the intimate bonding we had built up. As sure as I was about wanting to wean at a year, I was unsure about how it was going to work.
(Are you completely bored yet? Sorry.
I don't know why I'm writing about this. Maybe because it seems like a big milestone?)
I planned to use John's visit home in February to eliminate the bedtime feeding, by pumping and having him put her to bed, and slowly transition from breast milk to coconut milk. However, she didn't acclimate to being alone with him for the first few days, then we went on a trip, then we had people over every night, then we went on another trip, so I just kept nursing her.
At some point shortly before he came home, that nursing session had become pretty unpleasant, though. She would fall asleep, which would've been great except she would wake up screaming and frantic when I pulled her off to switch sides. She'd never done that before. Also, she usually played with my ears or nose while nursing, but she began to really yank and scratch and be quite violent for a one-year-old, then lose it when I'd put her down. It was very frustrating for both of us, so I knew it was time to be done.
(Don't worry, I'm almost done with this post, too!)
It ended up happening almost accidentally. The day after we got home from Costa Rica we got a babysitter so we could go on a date. (Didn't I mention we went on vacation to Costa Rica? Oops, more on that to come, then!) I figured we'd be back early enough that if Ayla hadn't gone to sleep yet, I could still nurse her. But she had gone down just fine. The next night when I put her down without nursing, she didn't even mention it. And that was that.
That was almost two weeks ago. Since then, my big, happy girl also started drinking (fresh, raw, organic, delicious) cow's milk, mostly because I ran out of coconut milk and she didn't even notice the switch.
I'm also thankful that I didn't have any engorgement issues when we stopped. It even makes me wonder if she was getting so frustrated towards the end because she wasn't getting much, if anything.
I really should take a lesson from myself here. So far, every thing I've been worried about in parenting hasn't been that bad when I actually get to it. I certainly learned some things I will do different next time, if given the opportunity, such as:
1) Not worry so much about it. If I'd have known how easy it was going to be, I'd have done it sooner!
2) Schedule in a regular bottle feeding so the baby stays acclimated, then transition to cup at appropriate age.
3) Start the baby on higher-(good)fat foods earlier to make up for the drop in calories from weaning.
4) Not worry so much about it.
Now, if I could only figure out how to get her to start walking.
(I'm kidding, I'm kidding! I'm not rushing her on that!)
I almost forgot to add a picture of the source of all this absolutely-worth-it fuss!
|See, happy as can be!|