Weaning – it’s going to be okay

Filed under: baby's progress — by Lauren on November 8th, 2007 @ 11:34 pm

Since Anya’s first birthday, we’ve been working on partially weaning her from nursing. I had initially intended to wean her completely after she turned one, but as we got closer to the time I decided to eliminate the day time feedings but continue to nurse her first thing in the morning and before bed time. I want her to keep getting the health benefits of breast milk, and I’d like to make up for some of the time when she couldn’t nurse due to the ulcerative colitis medications I was taking (go back to May 2007 if you want to relive the whole Poop Watch 2007 fiasco). I’ll probably continue this until she’s about 18 months, unless she decides she doesn’t want to nurse anymore (although if you’ve ever met Anya, you’ll know that there’s a better chance that she’ll suddenly take up sky diving or something equally ridiculous).

When she turned one, Anya was nursing 4 times a day. We started dropping the 11 am feeding first, replacing it with a snack and whole milk. Though she had no interest in drinking the milk, she made this first transition without any tantrums. On the whole, this was a good thing. I have been very emotionally torn about weaning her; part of it feels like abandoning her or pushing her to do something she’s not ready to do, but I know that there’s also a piece of me that is having a difficult time letting go, and I can’t let my own issues get in the way of doing what’s right for her.

I intended to wait a week, and then start working on the mid-afternoon feeding, but since Anya came down with a stomach bug we delayed this next step until she was better. This past Sunday we began to work on it, and the first day did not go well. It may have been because she was cranky and overdue for a nap, but she was so upset. She signed/said milk over and over again and cried big, sad tears. Lex took her from me and got her to go down for her nap, and when she woke up she was in a much better mood. I was very concerned that we were rushing her and that she just wasn’t ready, but the next 3 days went off without a hitch – and she’s been drinking whole milk in greater quantities each day.

Where we are now is where I hope we’ll be for a while. Of the morning and night time feedings, I have been most anxious about what will happen when we want to drop the morning feeding. It’s the only one that she seems extremely attached to, at least comparitively, and I have feared that it will be difficult for her to let it go.  However, this morning she had to skip it because I had a colonoscopy scheduled for today and I couldn’t nurse her due to the medication I had to take to prepare for it.  Lex and I had planned for this ahead of time; we decided that he would get her when she woke up and offer her whole milk in her sippy cup, but keep her upstairs while I stayed downstairs (I had to take the rest of the pills for the colonoscopy prep at 5:30 am anyway).  This way she wouldn’t be upset that I was there but not feeding her.  Well, it actually went surprisingly well.  The thing she was most bothered by was that I wasn’t there to say good morning to her; she kept asking for me and looking around our bedroom as though expecting that I would pop out of my hiding place any minute.  She didn’t drink a huge amount of milk, but she did accept it, and then she eagerly ate some applesauce a little later.  It’s certainly reassuring that she was fine without getting to nurse, though honestly it’s a little bittersweet for me – I have to remember that she’ll still love me and need me, even when we’re not nursing at all anymore.

Even though today was a success, I don’t think that Anya’s ready to give up breastfeeding altogether just yet.  As I was getting her dressed for bed, she saw the Boppy pillow and must have asked for milk at least 20 times.  The look of pure joy on her face when she saw me sit down with the Boppy was priceless – she practically jumped onto my lap – and for the first time in a while, she fell asleep while nursing (and I got to cut her fingernails, woohoo!).  Even after a year, there’s still something amazing about seeing the blissfully calm expression that she only gets when she nurses.  I know she’ll be alright when we’re done, but I will miss it.

One Response to “Weaning – it’s going to be okay”

  1. Saina & Braiden Says:

    It’s so hard. I was very sad when Braiden weaned himself due to my low milk supply after we got pregnant again — but he was only about 7-8 mos old, so he was still such a little guy. I’m glad it went well for you on Thursday though. I do have to say that it’s really great now that he is on whole milk (and loves it!). Meals out are very easy.