Saturday, March 14, 2015

The First Weaning Story (Part II)

Welcome back to my first weaning story! Click here to see Part I.
During my daughter's first year, she was receiving two bottles of expressed milk per day at daycare and getting breast fed 3 other times. Yes, only getting breast milk 5 times per day.  This does see low but she was growing and thriving and remained in the 90th percentile, so it was definitely enough! 

After my daughter turned 1, we were done with the pump but not done with nursing. 

Since my supply was getting less and less for 2 months prior to my daughter's first birthday I really couldn't get rid of the pump quickly enough. I introduced my daughter to cow's milk soon after she turned 1. I did this by replacing one of her bottles of expressed breast milk with 3 ounces of cow's milk in a sippy cup. My daughter had already had practice with water in a sippy cup and she rarely turns down any food or drink so this was no issue at all.
Even though I had used a lot of my frozen milk supply in the last month, I was extremely fortunate to still have some left. I was able to still give my baby one bottle of expressed breast milk in her bottle while she was transitioning to cow's milk. I continued this until my frozen supply was depleted. This took a couple of weeks so we were fortunate to have no issues transitioning to a 2nd sippy cup of cow's milk to replace the bottle. 
One month after I stopped pumping I decided I was ready to see if we could stop our morning nursing session, our first feed of the day. I had been waking up in the 4 a.m. hour for over a year to nurse for 40 minutes and I was so very tired. I actually had to wake my daughter to nurse her. I would nurse 20 minutes on each side and then put her back in her crib. My husband would then get her ready for daycare after I left for the day. So, I just didn’t wake her. I don’t love that I actively weaned the morning feed. But I also believe a mother’s health is important and stopping that morning feed so I could get a little more sleep was something I needed to do to keep myself healthy. My daughter never woke up, never asked for it. I never had to tell her no and I had no engorgement. I was happy to not have any issues which certainly helped with dropping this nursing session.

At 13 months of age that left my daughter only nursing twice a day. Right after I got off work and before bed. Except for that week I took off work to celebrate Christmas. She started nursing 5 times a day again, just like she used to when she was under 1. It was pretty wonderful, actually. We were home together and having lots of snuggles. If she asked to nurse, we nursed. I loved every minute and I'm pretty sure she did too.

In fact, it was that week that I took a pregnancy test. I laid the test on the side of the tub and then my daughter asked to nurse. Forgetting about the test, I started nursing her. After a few minutes I told her to hang on and ran upstairs to find a big positive! I came back downstairs and sat down to continue nursing. My 1 year old daughter, completely unprompted, lifted my shirt and kissed my belly. I was blown away. Of course, I hadn't told her. I had just learned seconds earlier. We were trying for a second child, but I didn't expect to succeed on our first try so I was reeling from the surprise. This little connection between myself and my two babies made me know it was going to be okay, no matter how anxious I was feeling in that moment.

We had a wonderful Christmas and I returned to work the next week. My daughter returned to her previous nursing sessions of immediately after work and before bed. However, only a couple of days into the week she didn't ask for milk when I went to pick her up at daycare. I felt a little sad but I thought she would ask the next day. She didn't. At 14 months, almost exactly 1 month after we dropped the morning nursing session, my daughter weaned herself from another. In fact, outside of that week during Christmas, once my daughter dropped a nurse she never once returned to wanting to nurse during an old time. 

I cherished my night time nurse with my daughter, as it was now the only time she was nursing. I was thankful to not have any pain while nursing during pregnancy. It did seem that something was changing with my milk though. I know now that pregnancy can cause significant decreases in supply and taste changes. I didn't necessarily realize that at that time.

One night, when my daughter was just about a week shy from turning 15 months old, she didn't ask to nurse. Since she didn't ask, I didn't offer. I read her a book, rocked her, sang to her and laid her in her crib. I went downstairs. My husband gave me a questioning look, surprised to see me downstairs so quickly. "She didn't ask" I said and I cried. I expected her to ask tomorrow.

She didn't.

She didn't ask the next day either. It was hard. I thought maybe I should have offered. I should have made sure she was ready to be done. But I had decided if she didn't ask then she was telling me she was done. 

We had a great journey. Just under 15 months. But I was still sad. I enjoyed nursing her and she enjoyed nursing so much. It was hard to believe this journey had ended. I had another baby growing inside of me, though. I knew that baby would be born in 7 months and nurse too. I think that was the easiest way for me to accept that my first nursing journey had ended. Gently and sweetly.

I would love to hear your weaning story! I'm accepting submissions for guest blog posts of your story of gently weaning your little one. Please send an e-mail to with your post submission!

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