3 Months To Go
I AM GOING TO TALK ABOUT MY BOOBS A LOT NOW SO IF YOU ARE MY MALE SECOND COUSIN BY MARRIAGE MAYBE YOU SHOULD SKIP THIS POST TODAY. THANKS.
Yes, that actually was entirely necessary. Jimmy.
Breastfeeding Caroline has been cake. I learned so much the first time around that even when things were challenging I knew how to ask for what I needed (nipple cream) and how to do what worked for me (crying in the shower while hand expressing milk) and it took days rather than months for us to find our groove. I am so thrilled we made it a full year of exclusive breastfeeding, especially because I struggled so much after BlogHer I thought we might not. For me, breastfeeding is both a wonderful bonding experience and a wonderful chance to sit down several times a day. I am never going to look back on my baby’s babyhood and think “Damn, breastfeeding was such a mistake”.
That being said, I have decided to start weaning Caroline. Yes I know she is only a little more than a year old. Yes I know what the WHO recommends. Yes I know I don’t HAVE to. Yes I know there is no medical reason to wean. And I don’t need anyone to talk me out of trying – although I welcome your opinion – because my reasons are totally selfish and for once I am ALLOWING myself to be selfish. I am a selfish, selfish mama who wants her body to herself for a little while after three and a half years of pregnancy, breastfeeding or BOTH AT THE SAME TIME.
In March, I am going on an honest-to-goodness vacation with my husband to several tropical beaches by way of Princess Cruises. It is a Big Deal for us, our first vacation since having kids, and the only vacation longer than a weekend we’ve taken since our honeymoon. My folks are going to watch the kids and the dog and the house for us (cue panicked cleaning of closets and kitchen drawers because OMG my parents will be in my house without my supervision) and since they’re doing us such a huge favor I’d prefer to leave them with a baby who ISN’T expecting anyone to whip out a boob to help her get to sleep. Also, right now my body is still making enough milk for a baby who nurses 4 times a day (plus 2 or 3 times a night) and that would mean bringing a pump on vacation to keep my chest from exploding. Let me tell you, there is nothing sexier than whipping out my double electric Medela for a good milking before bed. Even just cutting back on the nursing would be better than nothing, although I’m hoping for a mostly weaned baby.
The problem is I have no idea how to go about it.
Weaning Evan was something I thought about constantly for months but when it happened it was sort of anticlimactic. He went from nursing all the time to giving it up completely in just a few weeks, but that was because of a pregnancy-related drop in my supply. I do NOT want to be pregnant on our vacation – it would put quite the damper on my goal of drinking my weight in pina coladas. But is there a natural way to decrease my supply? I suppose I could just do the OPPOSITE of all the things the experts suggest when you’re trying to increase your supply, but not drinking water, not sleeping, not eating extra calories and not taking care of myself seems like a poor choice. I have read sage can decrease milk supply and I happen to have a bunch of it lying around from our summer CSA but that sounds like an old wives tale. I know nursing moms are told not to take antihistamines because they can decrease supply, but do I really want to take a bunch of drugs while I’m still breastfeeding? (Short answer: no)
And then, despite what I said above about letting myself be selfish there’s the guilt I’m going to traumatize my baby if I stop. Caroline has always been a really independent little girl and she rarely nurses for comfort. She is affectionate and cuddly even when we’re not nursing so I’m not worried about losing all our mommy-daughter time. But she still has a midnight feeding (and sometimes a 2 am and a 4 am and a 5 am feeding) and those are HARD to drop. She still cries and tugs on my shirt if we go too long without nursing. Despite the fact that yesterday she had two mini waffles, a donut, an apple, blueberries, a Babybel cheese and half a yogurt for breakfast she still wanted to nurse for a minute before we left the house. Does she NEED it or does she just like the familiar? How can I possibly know? I’ve got 3 months to figure it out.
Truthfully, the period of time in a baby’s life where they are either breast or bottle fed is SO SMALL in the scheme of parenting (unless you are amongst the very most extreme extended breast feeders) that cutting her off a few months short of where she would have weaned naturally isn’t going to keep her from getting into Harvard some day. (I am going to repeat that to myself over and over and over for the next 3 months.) And when I come home from vacation if she wants to start nursing again I would be totally OK with that. I LIKE breastfeeding, as a thing. In general. When it’s not making me sick to my stomach with anxiety about leaving. Again. So right now I need all the weaning advice and anecdotes I can get.