It’s been a little while since my last post about weaning, so I thought it was high time I followed it with an update…but somehow, every time I sit down to write about this whole process so that someone – anyone – might benefit from my experience, I can’t seem to put two coherent sentences together.
Why? Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about weaning, it’s that I know nothing about weaning.
I never wanted to wean my son. Since day one, it has always been my intention to let him lead the way and decide when he was good and ready. In fact, I’d love to nurse for another year or two – but, alas, our breastfeeding relationship has prevented us, thus far, from becoming pregnant again and the thought of no siblings is just about the only thing that could persuade me to start persuading.
So at around 17 1/2 months I started nudging and making small changes, trying to eek out a careful balance of still providing as much milk as possible while cutting back enough to jumpstart my body into fertile mode again. I cut out my last pumping session during the workday and stopped sending milk with Little Man during the day. From that point on, he got milk only when Mommy was around.
I was shocked at how easy that transition was, and I was thrilled to finally be free of my pump! (Although it had definitely served me well!) Since we were going 12 hours at a time without nursing, and attempting to night nurse was next on the agenda, I figured my supply would dwindle and we’d be done altogether in a few weeks.
My supply dipped, but maintained just the right amount, probably because night nursing did not happen. Not even a little bit. It increased. Hey wait…this whole weaning thing is supposed to mean a little more sleep for the mama, right?
Maybe it’s because I work all day or maybe it’s just because it’s normal, but my little milk monster has only slept through the night a few times since he was born, and attempts to night wean him only led to more determination on his part. I will admit that I was looking forward to some of this elusive “sleep through the night” action I’ve heard about ( My nickname for STTN is “The Unicorn,” because it’s such a lovely, imaginary creature that I’ve only read about in books… ) Oh well…he’ll probably sleep as a teenager, right?
Fast forward to now (nearly 20 months.) After several attempts at limiting middle-of-the-night milk only to be met with a crying, rejected baby and a brokenhearted mommy, I decided I just couldn’t do it. Weaning to regulate my cycle and gain sleep made NO sense when the end result was less sleep and more stress! Withholding the one constant source of physical and emotional nourishment he’s had since birth just went against every iota of my mothering instinct. Plus, the benefits of nursing well into toddlerhood are just too great to deny (here’s a great fact sheet from Kellymom.com that I have kept on my desktop for months.) So I backed off and decided that cutting out pumping and daytime milk would have to be enough, and took the rest out of my hands and put it back in the hands of my happy little nursling.
What will be will be.
And you know what “be”? In the past week and a half, my son has enjoyed 5 full nights of sleep, and so have I. Hallelujah! I’ve been thinking a lot about why, and I’ve come to the conclusion that weaning would not help him sleep, but rather his being developmentally ready to sleep would help him wean. I had it backwards! Ah, the perfect sense of it all!
And it doesn’t stop there. I was really concerned that at some point I might get pregnant and have to deal with being super exhausted while dealing with a still-nursing, still-night-waking toddler. But now, as he starts to sleep more, my cycle is returning (albeit verrrry slowly. But we did just buy a new house, and everyone tells me that is a surefire way to get pregnant! ) I think relaxing about weaning and letting things happen naturally, organically, has allowed our bodies to synch up and figure out each other’s needs the way only a mother and child can. And I thought the biology of pregnancy was amazing…little did I know that was only the tip of the iceberg!
As of right now, I don’t know how much milk my son is getting, but I am so glad he’s still getting some. Setting my worries aside and follow what feels right has allowed me to relax, and is undoubtedly much healthier for both of us.
Hey, maybe I do know a little something about weaning, after all! ;)
An added bonus that I never thought we’d see – Instead of running up to me the second I get home from work and signing milk, we officially have a new word for nursing!