Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The end of my breastfeeding journey: How I weaned my 1 year old

When I stopped breastfeeding Grace, she was 9 and a half months old. Honestly, it was a horrible and extremely emotional experience. I had to stop due to my heart issues and the abrupt weaning led to a week long hunger strike from her because she hated bottles and formula. I remember crying as I wrote this post explaining why I had to stop nursing. Neither of us were ready and I prayed that when I had Connor, our breastfeeding journey would be easier.

Thankfully breastfeeding Connor was easy. He was a good eater from the start and never had a drop of formula. I was so excited the day that I wrote this post when he turned 9 months and 1 week because it meant that I had been able to nurse him longer than I had Grace. My goal then became to nurse for 1 year. We flew past that goal and made it to 18 months with very little trouble.

When I came down with several bouts of mastitis and a couple of breast infections, I started to question whether it might be time to wean him. He was an incredibly rough nurser. He thought it was hilarious to bite me (I tried every trick I could to get him to stop) and his hands were always busy pinching me, pulling my hair, and hitting during nursing sessions. It was getting to be enough of a problem that I started to wish that we were done with breastfeeding (a thought I'd never imagined I'd have!)

During the day he was so distracted by toys and playing with his sister, that he rarely asked to nurse. He only nursed first thing in the morning and at bedtime by 19 months. When he gave up the pacifier with absolutely no fight, I thought I might see how eliminating the nighttime nursing session would go. I honestly expected huge tantrums. Our bedtime routine had always been to nurse before putting him in his crib. But one night I told him "no milk, you're a big boy" when he asked to nurse and he didn't fuss at all. He just cuddled with me and relaxed. The next night he didn't even ask, he just put his head on my shoulder and rested.

After several days of only nursing first thing in the morning, I decided it was time to cut that session out too. He fussed a little the first two days but I was able to easily distract him with a cup of milk and breakfast.

By gradually cutting nursing sessions out, weaning was surprisingly pain free. Weaning Grace was one of the more painful experiences I've ever gone through. While recovering from a heart attack and gallbladder surgery, my body was extremely confused by having to quit cold turkey and I was extremely engorged for days. With Connor, I prevented engorgement by pumping just enough to be comfortable. As I had weaned so gradually, I only had to pump 3 times over the next 4 days.

I thought I was going to be more emotional over weaning. Connor is my last baby and I will never get to breastfeed again. However, I knew that I was ready to be done and I mentally prepared myself for our last nursing session. I felt like he was ready and so was I. It's been 2 weeks now and I have no regrets. My only real concern when I weaned was that I wasn't going to get much cuddle time with him anymore because he's a busy little guy. But thankfully he's decided that he loves cuddling now and it doesn't involve any of the hitting, pinching, or biting that our nursing sessions did! We cuddle at bedtime and play his favorite game "where's your nose?" over and over. He also randomly snuggles up with me on the couch and begs to take pictures with me.
Showing me his nose

He looks so big!

I am so happy that weaning happened when we were both ready. I will always look back at our nursing sessions fondly (I'm sure I'll forget the biting and pinching at some point) but I'm ready to move on to the next phase of raising kids!

If you breastfed or are breastfeeding your kids, when did or when are you planning to wean them?

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