Friday, June 29, 2012

The Weaning Post

Ok, the long promised weaning post. It has definitely been a roller coaster both physically and emotionally but luckily it seems this coaster is slowing down.

Let's rewind to how this all started. I went to NY and Noah was left with bottles for a few days. This was the first time he had had more than a couple bottles a day and apparently he was enjoying this new, fast, mode of getting his food. So much so, that when I returned he was having nothing to do with nursing. I went through a number of stages to deal with, and accept, this fact:

Initial Reaction - When he initially rejected nursing on Sunday I chocked it up to me being gone and him needing to adapt back to our routine. Rather than fight him, I gave him bottles and pumped to be ready to continue with his nursing. It wasn't until Monday that I realized something was off.

Actual reality sets in - Monday he was still losing it every time I tried to nurse him. I started to realize that this wasn't just a temporary strike, he was really happier with a bottle. This is when I had to make some tough decisions about whether to wean him or begin a long road to reattachment. I thought about calling lactation consultants, reading up on how to "trick" him back onto the breast, etc... Scott was actually the one who suggested using this as an opportunity to start weaning him. Luckily we saw the pediatrician that day and he agreed with Scott that this would be a great time to begin that process and introduce more solid foods into his diet. So, we introduced formula.

I was actually ok with him taking the formula (I thought I would be horrified seeing him injest something with as many ingredients that I can't pronounce on the label) but the worst was still to come. Tuesday I lost it. Here are a few lines from an email I sent to Scott. Keep in mind, Noah decided to reject the breast while Scott was away so I was dealing with this alone and definitely needed his support:

"First of all, I feel like I just gave up on Noah. I came home, he wasn't interested, and I accepted that with no fight."

"I feel a little rejected too, I think. It makes me sad that Noah won't latch on and cries when I try to nurse him. I miss having him close and having that special time with him."

"I am sad that I didn't get to end his nursing on my terms."

"Breastmilk is SO much better for him than formula. The immunities. I don't want him to get sick all the time!"

Suffice it to say, I was a wreck. I was crying, emailing, calling, googling, anything to help me get a grip on my current situation. I didn't expect it to be so hard but it was definitely an emotional experience.
Just in case you needed a break from my rambling.
I get some sense talked into me - Luckily, Allison was up late and was able to talk me down off my ledge that night. She helped me to realize that ending this journey wouldn't be easy at any age. Would I be ok if he weaned at 8 months? 9? 10? What was my real "ok" date? I realized I didn't have one. I had no intention of nursing him for a year but also couldn't figure out how to stop.

I also began to realize that while I was sad about not quitting on "my terms" (selfish, right?!), we were quitting on Noah's terms which was actually a much better circumstance. Ultimately, it makes me happier that Noah was the one to reject me instead of the other way around. I would have had a harder time (I imagine) taking away something that he wanted and made him comfortable.

Finally, Allie told me that I would begin to see the perks of not nursing. I kind of thought that was a joke but it turns out, she was right!

Perks begin to surface - I feel so much freedom. I feel like I am finally getting my body back and a little personal independence. I am able to go to Bar Method without worrying about getting home to nurse Noah. I can have a drink at a mid-day BBQ. I can SLEEP! I got to sleep until 8:30am the other day because Scott can give Noah a bottle in the morning. Yes, the perks are surfacing.

Sure toting around formula and bottles is a smidge more inconvenient than just bring along myself, BUT, not having to nurse in public is a really nice feeling. Noah and I got pretty good at it and pretty comfortable, but I can honestly say I prefer our new situation much more.

Weaning myself begins - This part is a bitch, to put it bluntly. My boobs are a wreck. To get into details, my left has always produced more than my right and it is apparently in survival mode. For a girl with small Bs, this puppy is approaching cantaloupe size at least once daily. I am trying to ice and pump as little as possible but I am also scared of getting mastitis or a clogged duct from not relieving some of the pressure. I am desperate for this milk to be gone and, frankly, can't really see an end in sight which is pretty frustrating. I am consuming enough sage and peppermint to turn into a candy cane adorned with sage leaves and rotating frozen pea packs constantly. It has been a solid 5 days and I still feel like my body isn't getting the memo. Hopefully by this time next week I will be doing a milk free update for you!
Pea packs. My life is so glamorous!

SO, I guess the net is that while I struggled with Noah's decision, it turned out to be as right a time as it could have ever been and we are all getting on with our lives. For me, that currently includes finding a paper sack to wear to a wedding tomorrow since I will apparently be smuggling in about 12 oz. of milk in my chest. For Noah, that means he got a cold. I am a bit miffed and saddened but life goes on and we are snot sucking, Vapo rubbing, and snuggling it away (and giving a bit of left over frozen breast milk to hopefully kick this thing quickly). 

1 comment:

LC said...

I wasn't able to breastfeed so I don't have a personal connection to how you feel but I know A LOT of girls that describe the feelings (physically and emotionally). Just wanted to comment on a couple things you said. First of all, Allison is right. Noah should be the one to choose when to wean. So many mothers make the choice for their babies and it is so wonderful that Noah did it by himself. I know a few mamas that are waiting (after a year of BFing) for their little ones to wean but they aren't doing it! Your emotions are totally NORMAL. I also wanted to tell you that Ethan has always been formula fed and he got the same amount of colds as Leslie's baby (who was breastfed until 8 or 9 months). Of course "breast is best" but there are plenty of healthy and happy babies that are formula fed. Noah is going to be just fine! Finally, when drying up, the LC told me not to avoid warm/hot water on the "girl" in the shower and that Sudafed dries them up. I also had to use icepacks in sports bras but it was pretty much gone within a week or so. Good luck and enjoy your freedom. A whole new world of mommyhood is ahead of you. AND congratulations for nursing so long. Noah is so lucky to have such a hardworking and caring momma!