Bionic Mamas

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Wean-y Thoughts

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Oh, internets.  Can you help me with my boobs again?

I’m pretty done with this nursing business.  I know Brooklyn moms aren’t supposed to wean before kindergarten, but even so.  I think I’ve done what I can do.  I’ve persevered through Weightgate and the Very Bad Months of untreated Reynaud’s.  I’ve kept at it despite the early return of my period and its attendant supply-plummets.  I’ve eaten oatmeal (a food I do not love), drunk gross teas, and dutifully taken my blessed nifedipine every day or felt the consequences.  Nifedipine is the kind of drug whose metabolism is sensitive to the presence of furanocoumarins (you’re welcome, vocab nerds), so I have dutifully avoided grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and more to the point in this trendy town, cocktails containing either.  Okay, okay, that’s not a big sacrifice, but I really could use a drink.

Breastfeeding is hard for lots of people, but I think it’s fair to say I am in the “worse than average” category.  Frankly, it still hurts most days, at least some of the time.  I hear it’s “not supposed to,” but them’s the breaks, I guess.  I’m grateful that I was able to do it at all, but the Bean is a big, strapping boy these days (a whopping 7th percentile for weight at his last visit, but holding his curve more convincingly now) with his very own immune system, he seems adequately bonded to me, and I’m unconvinced there’s much more he has to gain from all this.  As for me, one reason I didn’t want to wean sooner was in order to soften some of those early, horrible memories.  I’ve now nursed back over the seasons that were so hard for me in 2011, and I’m not sure what’s left for me to gain, either.  If I am to try to get pregnant again in the spring or summer, the Baby Factory will want me to have weaned, and anyway a few months’ break from supporting another human with my body doesn’t seem like the craziest idea ever.

Meanwhile, see below, the Bean has lately decided he doesn’t want to go to sleep at night for anyone but Sugar, so there’s one big boob advantage all blown to hell anyway.  Which brings us to issues of practicality.  Weaning all at once seems more than I can handle, intensity-wise, but I’m not sure what method does make sense.  Dropping one feeding at a time, right?  But which one?  And how to avoid being clawed to death by tiny little fingernails when I say no?

Assuming I am available all day, the Bean nurses three times: when we first get up, when he goes down for his nap, and at bedtime.  Because my Monday-Thursday schedule varies, none of these things happens every day, and on some days, only one of them does.  On Mondays, for example, I leave before he gets up and miss his nap, so he goes 24 hours between nursing sessions (Sunday night to Monday night).  Friday-Sunday, I usually do all three, except Jess sometimes puts him down for naps, in which case he gets a bottle.

(Yes, I have been nursing him to sleep for some months, despite being quite proud of not doing that early on.  Frankly, it has been the least of our considerable sleep problems, and a girl’s got to triage sometimes.  He’s not always asleep when I put him down, but it is always the last thing we do, and sometimes he is asleep.  He is never asleep when Jess puts him down after a bottle, and he does not take the bottle to bed.)

The morning nursing is, I think, the Bean’s favorite.  If I am not there, he is reportedly quite unhappy, and if I am only sleeping in, he usually wants to nurse whenever I do get up.  It’s not my favorite.  I like that it buys me a little more time in bed, but it always hurts, quite aside from the climbing and scrambling and feet-to-the-eye maneuvers typical of toddler-nursing.

The nap-nursing is the one I was ready to drop at the end of the summer, after months of being home with him every day.  (I didn’t, because we were about to go on that epic train trip, and I was not interested in establishing new routines just in time to blow them to smithereens.)  Increasingly, he doesn’t go to sleep from it anyway, and it’s the time he’s most likely to be tiresome about the whole process.

Bedtime is the nursing session I like best.  It’s the least likely to hurt, and by the end of the day, it’s nice to have a job that is mostly sitting in a dim room reading my email. However, it’s increasingly not working as a means to get the Bean to sleep.  Even if he falls asleep during the process, he wakes up the second I move him, springs to his feet, and starts screaming.  If he’s not asleep, he skips the waking up part.  This continues as many times as I go through the cycle, so Sugar ends up having to go into him after I’ve left.  She sometimes gives him a bottle and sometimes just sits by him, he is quiet, and the whole thing is over quickly.  (This, perhaps unreasonably, pisses me off.)  On Wednesday night, she wasn’t home, so he just screamed after I left.  For twenty-five minutes.  (Have I mentioned the household austerity measures that include no longer drinking on weeknights?)  Last night, I nursed him while she played the piano, at which point I left, she gave him a bit of a bottle, which he didn’t finish, and was out of the room in five minutes.

So it seems like the bedtime session, my favorite, might be the easiest to drop.  This would also stretch my non-nursing periods to over 24 hours (Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning, for example).  I may have to sleep with cabbage in my shirt.

Then there is the issue of what to do instead of nursing during these times.  I suppose I will just give him bottles, despite our pediatrician’s request that he be done using them by 12 months.  She didn’t seem too horrified at the idea, just said we’d have to deal with that later.  In fact, she looked quite sweet when I told her how fondly I remember my own favorite bottle, which I used occasionally up until age five or so.  It was shaped like a dog, with blue ears.  I called it Freddy.

…your thoughts?

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20 thoughts on “Wean-y Thoughts

  1. Though I wasn’t weaning, I did drop one of Riley’s sessions (that turned into her weaning). She was nursing in the morning, right after school (in the car) and before bed. I dropped the afternoon in the car business and she weaned herself soon after. She was 15 months. Perhaps that was her favorite session and I ruined it for her? I’m not sure. But it was my least favorite, so I dropped it. I would start with the one you like the least.

  2. Man! I can’t believe you are still nursing. That is intense! A lot of people led me to believe that once I weaned I would feel The Great Sadness at it being over. But I have to say, even though I (mostly) enjoyed bfing the turtles for a year, once they weaned, save a milisecond or two of nostalgia, I was all: YES! I am so happy to be done! And having your body back, 100% back, to yourself, is amazing. So, let’s start with the positives, yes? So much to look forward to!

    I agree with the above commentor…drop the session you like least first. If the Bean gives you lots of grief, maybe you should just write a weaning schedule onto a calendar print-off of October and just Stick.To.The.Schedule. That might help take some of the emotion and the hedging and the second guessing out of it, since you will just be following a plan. And you get to make the plan, so it can be a pace and speed that you feel comfortable with.

    I hope it ends up being easier than you think it will be. I know toddlers want what they want and they want it NOW. But they also live in the NOW and so, even if there are a few bad days, the Bean is more likely than not to adapt to the new routine quite quickly. That is my hope, anyway.

  3. YOU ARE A MURDERER IF YOU DENY YOUR CHILD BREASTMILK. Just so you know. There’s a ton of wisdom on the subject out there, but I imagine you’re asking the internet so we’ll filter it for you and present it without judgement. Beyond reminding you that you’re a murderer. I hear good things about the “don’t ask, don’t tell”….no, wait. That’s “don’t offer, don’t refuse” approach. My hope is that, like Bun Bun, the Bean will turn out not to care as much as expected. I think I held on to the morning session longest…seems to make some kinda sense to drop midday stuff, then evening since it’s not doing anything sleepwise…whatevs, I bet you know what to do, just are waffling about pulling the trigger. PULL IT, MY GOOD WOMAN.

    • Don’t refuse — HAHAHAHAHAHA. I think the Bean wrote that himself. That method has historically lead only to adding sessions. See: months 11-12, when we were back at newborn levels.

      You’re right about the trigger. Mostly I’m wondering how strong to make his cocktails so he doesn’t drive me mad in the process. Maybe I should just remind him that he can’t have the grapefruit ones until I’m off the nifedipine, either.

      • Yeah…that was a stupid thing to mention. Cold turkey is a much better approach. I’m rereading the Satter chapter on toddlers, and here’s a quote that might apply: “making [his] way smooth and [his] life free of frustration is no longer appropriate” p. 324. Maybe knowing you’re doing the right thing will help you get through the screaming, whining, pinching, whatever…and I do hope its short-lived.

  4. I’d think dropping the mid-day session would be the easiest, if it’s not connected to him actually sleeping. And then night, if it’s not helping him sleep. Might actually improve his sleep, right, because could streamline the night routine…

    But I’m in the throes of nightweaning myself and not thinking logically!

  5. I will be watching these comments with great interest, as we are in a similar situation. Sounds like that afternoon one is the one that is least beneficial to both of you. You could kill that one first, then evening, since it also doesn’t really work, then morning, since that will probably have the most drama attached. It sounds like those will be the easiest, in terms of dealing with the Bean’s reaction, even if it’s the opposite of the order that has other benefits (namely your own preference). We have been going through something similar at bedtime. The Monkey will now only go to bed for C and with me will just chew on my nipples and kick me in the face as long as I’ll let her. Since we “dropped” the night feeding she just wants to nurse first thing when I come home from work.

    If you do decide to drop the morning feeding first, maybe you just need a new morning routine, like the way that they tell smokers to change their cues when they want to quit smoking. As soon as you greet him, read books and snuggle instead, not in bed, maybe?

  6. I salute you. Because after ALL THAT PAIN AND STRESS you’re still breastfeeding, and that makes you a hero.

    Other than that, I have no advice, because I have never nursed anyone at all and I tend to run screaming from any and all discussions of such matters (triggery, esp. when I’m being patronised rigid for Not Being A Mother And Therefore Not Knowing Jack-Shit). Imagine me, however, if you will, as that slightly scabrous, disreputable lady who drinks gin, leaning on the bar and shouting: ‘FOR THE LOVE OF G*D WEAN THE CHILD AND HAVE A COCKTAIL.’ I mean, giving up Sea Breezes in exchange for a sleep-deprived kid and mornings spent being trampled on and kicked in the eye? Also, YOU NEED YOUR HORMONES BACK, so Bean can discover the delicious joys of sibling rivalry and sharing.

    And because I am half-cut and scabrous, you can ignore me at will.

    • I’m not sure I have the strength to do this. Maybe if you were a little closer, like, say, down at the fancy cocktail bar around here, luring me with gin, I could. Yes. I could, I’m sure of it. In fact, I NEED you. Please come soon.

  7. I’m glad you posted this. We should talk. I’m debating the same thing with Buggie right now. I’m thinking of dropping the morning session first because I think it will be easiest, but I keep putting it off, so there’s that. Honestly if I had had as hard a time as you I likely would have stopped long ago. Not that that makes any of it any easier.

  8. As my in-laws are about to show up and I must go drink a cocktail first to prepare, this will be brief:

    1) For us morning was also the least pleasant AND the last to go. My spouse took Bug to the kitchen wailing ‘Ma muk! Ma muk!’ piteously, for about a week, and handed him a bowl of cheerios. The next week he just asked ‘Ma muk?’ once, and then ate his cheerios. The week after that he said ‘Mama?’ every morning and Dr. S said ‘Mama’s sleeping’ and then there were cheerios.

    2) For nap I slowly and painfully rocked Bug to sleep and held his hand in his crib and then slowly and painfully stopped doing these things. I do not recommend it.

    3) Ditto for bedtime.

    • My in-laws have cleverly gotten themselves stuck in traffic outside Chicagoland, on the last warm late-September Friday. SO! I think that, as Bunny says, you do know what to do, and usually (at least for me?) it’s not as painful as I think it’s going to be. Also, look on the bright side: Bean won’t even remember it by this time next year!

  9. First, I have to say I love Glum for commenting again with the missing apostrophe 🙂

    Second, you’ve gotten some great advice already, not sure what I can add. I weaned Bird by switching up the routine. We eliminated nighttime first, so instead of me nursing her to sleep, R took her up to bed and read stories. Morning was harder for me to let go of. We eventually just stopped going to my bedroom when she woke and went straight downstairs for her favorite morning treat (blueberry muffins). She asked a few times after that, but accepted my answer that she had drank the milk all up.

    Good luck, it’s a hard transition.

  10. No advice (since we never really got the hang of breastfeeding). But I think it’s really impressive that you’ve continued nursing this long given how uncomfortable it has been.
    Good luck! I imagine that (like lots of these transitions) it will feel challenging for a while and then become just part of how things are.

  11. You are a breastfeeding rockstar! Spread the pain and struggles you’ve endured over the typical breastfeeding relationship and you’re well beyond kindergarten. 🙂

    That said, if sleep is a problem and sucking calms him down, then the bottle is your new best friend. Tatoe still goes to sleep after a bottle of water for every nap, every bedtime, and every night waking because he can cry for an incredibly long time if denied it under the banner of nightweaning. I say if the pediatrician wants the bottles gone, then she can be the one who listens to him cry. And then I justify it to myself. –> It’s water. It’s not leaving sugar coating his tiny teeth that are eventually going to fall out anyway. It even has fluoride to help prevent the dreaded decay. And a bottle takes what, 15-20 minutes at the most? If it was a pacifier, he’d have it for a much longer time than that.

  12. oh, if i could get the bunny to nurse just twice a day. we are currently re-night-weaning due to the august chain of sick. other than that bunny nurses frequently whenever we are home. clearly he doesn’t NEED to as if we are out all day he can go without all day. and i don’t even really get engorged. but when we are at home, he insists. with piercing, high-pitched shrieks. and i give in. because it’s easier.

  13. No assvice given E. weaned himself well before I was ready, but just wanted to send some support. Previous commenters look like they have given you good suggestions. I especially like the idea of creating a new routine for the first thing in the morning nurse. E. always has his puffs and his milk in his sippie while we make breakfast, and then we were away this weekend at a friend’s house and that wasn’t happening and the results WERE NOT GOOD. If the Bean has entered the liking order and structure and things JUST AS THEY ALWAYS ARE phase of toddlerdom, then I bet setting up a new clear routine with any of the previous nursing times would help.
    T.

  14. Just found this and wanted to offer support. It’s not easy. Good job hanging there. We are in this boat, though I am not the nursing mama in our case. Our little guy also likes the morning session best. Ditto with the above commenter that replacing that with something else seems like a great idea (and is advice we’ve been given).

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