The first symptom of pregnancy I had when I was carrying Angel Baby was intense heat in my breasts. They ached and I was more aware them than I had ever been before (even during my clubbing days!). My breasts didn’t start showing changes until the second trimester, but from the get-go, they were painfully hot.
Before ever becoming pregnant, I knew I was going to breastfeed. The BHE and I discussed what we wanted and expected, and we agreed we would exclusively breastfeed. We took it so far as to say that was a main reason I would not be returning to the workforce after I gave birth.
I promised myself that I would breastfeed our child for at least a year.
After all my reading and research* and talking to other mothers, I knew that breastfeeding wasn’t something easily done or even so natural it didn’t take any work. Oh, no! It’s a process that can be as frustrating as it is rewarding. I told myself that we’d take it one step at a time, me and my unborn miracle. We would start as soon as my baby was out of my womb. And give it a week. If we made it through the first week, we could do a month. If we made it through a month, we could do six months. At six months, we would start introducing solids and reevaluate the breastfeeding.
And then some
A year came and went. We had started with a dozen or so feedings a day. When she began eating solid foods, Angel Baby weaned herself to fewer and fewer feedings from the boobies. By her first birthday, she had breast for breakfast, a second breakfast (little Hobbit) of solid food, breast before nap, lunch after nap, a snack, dinner, then breast before bed.
A few months after her first birthday, we had cut out the pre-breakfast boobie. The pre-nap boobie didn’t happen on days we ran errands or went to the library, so soon that was cut out, too.
From the very beginning, I had an issue with a blocked duct in the right breast. I would return from time to time, not very often and not for very long. But when Angel Baby was 18 months, the duct issue returned with a vengeance. I decided enough was enough and stopped feeding Angel Baby off the right breast.
And we’re done
Two months after we stopped using the right, I decided we were done completely. I know I’m still producing but it isn’t much. Really, it was just a small snack for Angel Baby right before bedtime.
Two nights ago, I just didn’t do it. I didn’t bare my breast. I didn’t offer it to her. She freaked. Her first reaction to not getting it was to frantically sign** “more.” When that got her nothing but a kiss, she started crying hard. She had this look of utter betrayal.
So I did what I do every night to get her to sleep: I started singing lullabies. She hushed then slowly drifted off. It took no more time than the bedtime routine normally did.
Night two (right now, while I’m writing this) has been bit more of a struggle. We also started the routine a half hour later than normal. If I were a Democrat, I’d blame global warming. If I were Republican, I’d blame Obama. Who knows. (Post-script: it turns out she was actually uncomfortable as her body attempted to process our entirely plant-based dinner.)
She took 30+ minutes to fall asleep. There were no tears. She signed for “milk” then “more milk” but got none so gave up rather easily.
I know this isn’t typical. I’ve read and listened to enough horror stories. But I hope some part of this helps some other mother when she’s ready to wean.
Know that angel baby was a breastfeeding champion before we even left the hospital. The unit staff wanted to take us around to shower three other newborns how to properly latch (they joked). She was such an easy baby those early days. My milk let down before we even went home!***
Do you have any weaning advice to share?
* My “Pregnancy and Breastfeeding” book shelf on Goodreads can be seen here. This is not an exhaustive list of my research as I read plenty of articles and blog posts online.
** We chose to teach Angel Baby a few words in baby sign language. It has made a huge difference in how we handle certain situations that we have seen quickly spin out of control with other families. She could communicate with us very early, way before any child can speak words, simple things like being hungry or wanting more or telling us she hurts or needs a diaper change.
*** This is not common; it usually takes a little longer. Milk takes a few days to “let down” as the baby pulls the colostrum first. There’s a whole chemical process involved with breastfeeding, latching, milk production, etc.