Saying goodbye to nursing

by Ginger on January 11, 2011

in Mom Thoughts

Today we I we began the process of weaning Jackson of the last of his nursing sessions.

It’s been brewing for a while, this beginning of the end. When Jackson turned one, I weaned him down to just two nursing sessions a day–one in the morning when he first woke up, and one at night before bed. We had a few little additions–when he got sick, a few times after a nightmare to calm him down–but we’ve been in that twice a day camp primarily for the last 5 months.

But those last two, man have they been hard to think of dropping. For one, they’re my snuggle time with Jackson. My time when he’s calm(ish), and snuggly, and ALL MINE. That’s not to say that I don’t get him to myself at other times, or that I won’t find other times/ways to have that intimate connection with him, but it’s been hard to think of giving up, FOR ME, the closeness we’ve built over the last 15 months that I get those brief times every day. For two, it’s scary to think of disrupting the rhythm we have going so well. He calms down for bed by nursing. He wakes up to the day by nursing. It’s downright terrifying to think that we’re going to screw with that. For three, it’s been something he hasn’t seemed ready to drop yet. And I’ve struggled with the idea of taking something away that is clearly comforting for him.

However, all good things must come to an end, and it’s time. The past month or so, I’ve been teetering more on the side of “this is not working for me anymore” than I was before. There are days when I want nothing more than to let N.C. put Jackson to bed. When I had the stomach flu last month, I groaned as I dragged myself up to a sitting position to nurse. There have been too many mornings that I’m late to work in part because I was late to start nursing. There are numerous new teeth that have changed J’s latch (and not for the better). There are a few medications I’m putting off taking until we’re done nursing as they’re “unknown” for breastfeeding–nothing major, all skin related, but still something I’ve postponed until, until, until…

Bekah‘s been going through this process herself, and writes with beauty about the sadness and loss that comes with weaning. I think no matter the age of your child, there’s an emotional bit to this process, this end of one stage of motherhood into another. I’ll always be grateful for the time I was able to spend nursing Jackson. While it was challenging at times, it provided a soul soothing balm to a heart sometimes heavy from missing days with my son. I know that while I will be glad to give up the nursing bras and the leaking (someone tell me the leaking stops?), I’ll miss the sweet pats to my face and tiny hands holding my fingers as we sit in the dark together. I know that there will be new and fantastic things to take their place, but it is bittersweet to leave one for the next.

The Sweetest January 11, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Hayden was bottle-fed, but those last two feedings were still hard to drop. By 15 months, we were down to just the morning bottle. What helped to drop it was getting him up in the morning and taking hims straight to the kitchen, to the high chair, where a solid breakfast was waiting for him. We broke the association, and he got to eat. Win, win. Those baby feedings are such an intimate time, but once you break up with it you will be glad.

Ginger January 12, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Oh, that’s a good idea to take him right to the kitchen. We’ve been letting daddy get him & give him a cup of milk while I shower (so I’m not in the room), but going to the kitchen entirely might be better!

Cherie Beyond January 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I nursed my daughter mornings and evenings until about the same age. Then one night I was in the shower, looked down at my poor, chewed-on boobs and thought: yeah. It’s time. If no one has warned you (as no one warned me): be aware that full weaning can lead to mild depression because of the hormonal shift. If you are prone to that sort of thing, heads up.

Also, the timing of this hits home right now. I just made the decision today that I’m done pumping. He’s 11 months and one week old and…I just can’t do it anymore. My new job is crazy; I’m so busy I don’t have the time; I’ve come to loathe it so much I push it later and later everyday; my supply is dwindling. My goal was a year, but I’m just gonna have to throw in the towel a few weeks short. It’s time. I’d rather devote what little milk I have to those morning and evening feedings, which hopefully I can keep going as long as you did.

By the way: good job! You did awesome.

Ginger January 12, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Thanks for the heads up. I don’t really tend toward too much depression, but everytime I’ve adjusted something with nursing it’s definitely pushed me over the hormonal edge, so I’ll keep an eye out. (and warn my husband!).

beakh January 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Oh I am totally crying again right now. It is such a sweet bonding time for a mom and a baby. I had NO idea how precious it would be to me before I had him.

Oddly, I got super engorged when I stopped last week, but I didnt leak at all after the first day. I have no idea why. And now…five days later, the engorgement is going away. Soon it will be just a memory…and with that sappy line I gotta go get a tissue or something.

It is so hard. I know you know.

bekah January 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

Did I seriously spell my own name wrong?

Megan January 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm

“While it was challenging at times, it provided a soul soothing balm to a heart sometimes heavy from missing days with my son.”

So beautiful. I’m very glad you were able to have that bond with him to make the days apart a little more bearable. And, you did an incredible job pumping till a year (right?) and nursing as long as you have.

Personally, I didn’t start to feel any bonding associated with nursing until it was almost time to stop. The first year just felt like work. She was very challenging to nurse. But once we didn’t NEED to anymore, it became pleasant. But, at 18 months I was at my breaking point, and I needed to be done. Well, actually, 16 months was my breaking point. It took about two months to complete the process for us.

Anyway, keep us posted on your progress!

Alexis January 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm

The hardest part of any parenting is knowing when to pull the plug. I can see how this will be tough, but as you said, you know the time is right. You are the Mommy and you know these things. You really do. I was also a bottle feeder, but when my girls decided they were too cool for mommy and just wanted their milk “to go” it was hard, I get just what you mean about giving up that special time. Feeding time is so magical in that it is one period in which you have to do nothing else but cuddle your baby and fill their happy little tummies.

You did an amazing job, especially juggling the full-time nursing and work and commuting and well, all that life stuff that seems to want to get in the way of our time with our kids. You will do an amazing job with this, and whatever else this tricky business of parenthood throws your way.

Not so sentimental aside: Though I never had any engorgement to speak of, I hear that cabbage leaves, worn like mermaid shells for that true sexy look, will help soften the blow of not nursing…might be worth a quick google….

kate January 11, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Yes, yes, yes, yes – you are right on with this one. Yes, it will get easier. Yes, it’s so hard to say farewell to one milestone, but know that another is coming, too. Yes, the leaking will dissipate. Yes, you’ll have more snuggle time in other ways, but it won’t be the same. Yes, yes, yes, yes.

And, YOU deserve a huge pat on the back. Nursing takes time, energy and dedication. You did awesome and you should be so proud of that.

I was so happy to nurse Beckett for her entire first year, but while it was bittersweet, it was nice to get my body back to being my body. I never imagined how wonderful it’d be to have my breasts be mine again. 🙂

Erin January 11, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Ohhh, this made me teary for you! Good luck. I know that if my girls actually nursed, it would be so hard to give up that cuddle time…I don’t imagine I’ll feel the same way about my breast pump!

For what it’s worth, almost everyone I know who nursed was sad about giving it up, but also thrilled to have their bodies back!

clara January 12, 2011 at 12:23 pm

You’re right, it is so hard to give up those dark moments and face pats. I wrote a letter to my first when we were done nursing. And you wrote this lovely blog post. Good luck with the weaning. (and, the leaking does stop)

clara\ January 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm

er, I should say “moments in the dark” not “dark moments” – I’ve been playing too much Star Wars 😉

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks January 13, 2011 at 9:46 am

I can only imagine how difficult this process must be for you. When one door shuts, another opens. I hope this brings new and interesting and wonderful times with you and your son!

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