To catch you up, as mentioned in my post about weaning my last baby when it came time to weaning my daughter we were down to only the first two feeds of the day which together totalled a full feed on both sides. On Friday, April 20th, Laura woke up just before 6:00am - a little on the early side for her. My husband is in a busy season of work right now and when that happens he starts his work days at 5:00am (and then breaks to have breakfast and get ready for the day with the family), so Laura and I had plenty of time just the two of us before my toddler got up around 6:45am.
When I picked Laura up out of her crib I said “good morning sweet girl! Today is a new day. I’m not going to nurse you this morning.” As I said that she started to cry (incredible how much they understand at just 14 months!), but she quickly settled as I continued with “I’m going to take you downstairs and get you a bottle of milk”.
Once the milk was ready we snuggled on the couch together under a big blanket. I was trying my best to recreate the intimacy and warmth of nursing in bed together. We sat there together for about 15 minutes as she drank her milk and played with her bottle a little bit. After she was done she looked up at me and gave me the most genuine smile. It was as if to say “I’m ok mama. This is ok.” and I broke down into tears. I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to get a good cry about it, so I really leaned in to those feelings and let it come out.
I cried because I was so thankful I had read her signals correctly - that she was indeed ready to wean. I cried because I was so, so, so sad it was over. Breastfeeding has made such a positive impact on my life. I am full with gratitude for it. It even gave me a business I’m truly passionate about! I cried because I was emotionally So.Tired. after worrying about this for days. It was like the adrenaline dropped and my body could relax again. I cried because I could; and needed to.
I don’t think any mom is ever happy to start the day just before 6:00am; but I ended up feeling thankful it happened that way. I really needed that time with her to finish processing the loss of breastfeeding and to feel reassured that our connection is still strong.
As for that other feed right before morning nap time, dropping it went shockingly well. I was the most worried about that one because I wanted to try putting her to bed without any milk, something that would be totally new to her. Since I had just introduced full bottle of milk first thing in the morning to replace nursing I wanted to manage her cow’s milk intake as I find too much seems to make her constipated. I wanted to see if she could get herself to sleep without having the wind down time of a bottle.
Our routine for the morning nap lately is for me to ask her if she’s ready for her nap time and when she is she will nod her head, grab her stuffed elephant and climb into my lap (or some variation of those signals). As we slowly and calmly walked upstairs I told her I wouldn’t be nursing her before nap time; that I would hold her close in my arms and give her a cuddle, and when she was ready I would put her in her bed and let her have a good rest. I put her in her crib, draped a blanket over her, and walked out. She didn’t even fuss.
I quickly walked downstairs and decided to sit on my front porch since it was the first sunny warm(ish) day in a while. I was trying my best to disconnect myself from her, but I kept the door open and if she was really wailing I would have heard her for sure. She must have gotten herself to sleep fairly easily because I didn’t hear her at all.
It is now about a week later and I can say things are still going well. I did find that, for a few days after the weaning, her naps weren’t as long as they usually are, but now we seem to be back to a nice groove. It was like that was her way of going through the discomfort of the change. I tried my best to stay extra close to her during awake times and give her extra hugs and cuddles to help her through the adjustment with lots of love. She continues to go down for morning naps easily without a bottle of milk (hurray!).
So props to her; and props to me! It’s over. Time for the next chapter. I can’t wait to see what it brings for us.