Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Second Weaning Story (Part I)

There is an  abundance of info that can be found and that's shared regarding initiation of breastfeeding and the many problems or challenges that may occur during nursing. I am amazed on the absolute limit there is on weaning. Even though all children who begin nursing, must indeed, wean. 

I'm sharing my weaning story to help open the communication on this topic. Because it can be a challenging, confusing and uncertain time. Just as my birth stories (which you can read here and here) are very different so are my weaning stories. My first time weaning (you can read Part 1 and Part 2) happened quickly and with no issues. It really ended earlier than I had expected. This is not at all the case the second time around

Weaning always begins with the introduction of any solid or liquid that aren't mama's milk. For my second daughter this occurred about 1 week before she turned 6 months old. Like my oldest, the introduction of food didn't change the amount that my baby nursed or the amount that I was pumping. That all stayed the same one year. 

As a working mom, I lugged my pump and all the parts to work each and every day. I fretted on low supply days, cried over spilled milk and stressed over badly timed office meetings. When my baby turned one, I was ready to be done with the pump! However, my body had other plans. With my first, I was gradually getting less and less milk starting around month 10. I was able to simply quit pumping the day after my baby turned one. This was not at all the case the second time. 

There was always so much worry about not being able to maintain a milk supply while working full time and pumping while away from my baby. I never expected to have any problems with engorgement after a year. But that baby of mine loved to nurse and I couldn't quit my pump cold turkey - no matter how much I wanted to do so. I slowly weaned off the pump and finally stopped one month after my baby turned one. It was slow and gradual and didn't affect my little girl. When I was finally done with the pump I was thrilled. I love nursing but I don't love pumping - not at all! 

If it weren't for working and having to pump, I'm not sure my daughter would have changed her nursing habits at all after she turned one. When I was at home with her during the day, she continued to nurse at the times I would have pumped. My body made the adjustment to this as well. This is one of the many things I love about nursing - the woman's body to adjust and fulfill the needs of the child, as it's demanded. 

My sweet girl was a pretty poor sleeper her first year (well, she's still a pretty poor sleeper, really) and  she continued to nurse frequently throughout the night. This began to wear on me and I was getting sick frequently. I decided I needed to try to wean the night time nursing which was basically just one long latch around 3 or 4 in the morning until I woke up to get ready for work. We started this part of weaning when my daughter was about 15 months old. Instead of me going in her room and then bringing her to bed to nurse, my husband went to her and rocked her and soothed her. Sometimes this worked. Sometimes it didn't. If he couldn't soothe her then he would bring her to bed. And once she was in bed, it was really hard to convince her she didn't to nurse. 

If a night went by without nursing I would actually be able to get ready and leave for work before my daughter woke. This wasn't easy but if I woke her up, again, I wouldn't have been able to convince her that a hug and a kiss was enough. I left the house without seeing her and without seeing me she didn't miss nursing. Once we had about a week stretch of this, she was finished with her middle of the night and morning nurses. I would have preferred her to have been able to do this all by herself (without the help from me) but it was necessary for my own health. Thankfully, it was still done slowly and gently and she did really well with it. 
She was around a year and a half old at this point and I thought our nursing days were coming to a close. My oldest had already weaned by this age and I figured the youngest would have a similar pattern. 

How very wrong I was!

Be sure to check back soon to see how the rest of our weaning story went.