So Caroline is officially weaned as of March 1st (14 months, 12 days of breastfeeding). She was probably ready to be done a few days earlier but I kept saying “Oh, just one more time!” and drawing it out. I am both ECSTATIC and TERRIBLY SAD at the same time. One second I am doing a jig because I am freeeeeeeeeeee and the next I am wiping away tears because mah baybeeeeeeee doesn’t neeeeeeeed meeeeeeeee. As if all the hormonal stuff wasn’t enough on its own, the mood swings are turning me into a total wreck.
In the end, what worked best for us was cutting out one feeding at a time every few days. First I dropped her post-nap nursing session, then the one before lunch, then first thing in the morning, then the one before nap, and lastly the one before bed. She had been occasionally sleeping through the night, so we just sort of phased out the 2 am feeding as we went. E went in to comfort her a couple times but even when I was doing it she wasn’t nursing for more than 30 seconds so obviously she was just ready. I was worried she wasn’t drinking a ton of milk from her sippy but she does drink lots of water and she still eats like a horse, so I doubt she’s going to end up dehydrated or malnourished. The whole process took about 2 months and my supply regulated itself easily as I decreased the feedings. The weaning wasn’t child-led, but it was gentle and mostly tear-free. I’m happy. And sad. SO CONFLICTED.
One of the things I was most worried about is that we were going to lose all of our cuddle time, since she’s such a very busy and independent toddler. But she’s replaced nursing with being a little clingier – more hugs, wanting to be held, sitting in my lap – which I am HAPPY to oblige. It’s nice to get affection from her that isn’t boob-related. Having someone try to rip off your shirt every time they see you is only flattering for so long, you know?
The end of nursing also meant the end of my extra Weight Watchers points and for a couple days I was a little panicked. I needed those points or I’d be starving all day. But then I remembered, oh yeah, the breastfeeding is what makes me so hungry – SO HUNGRY – and now that I’m not making milk anymore I don’t need to eat like a horse. I’ve also dropped several pounds wicked fast in the last week, something my lactation consultant had mentioned ages ago. My body was holding onto extra fat as a back-up in case my caveman food source ran out and I had to keep my young alive through a starvation period. It’s good for the survival of the human race (I GUESS) but sucks when I was trying to “get my body back” and my body refused to cooperate. But now it’s all “Whatevs, your young can totally fend for herself! Look at her, shoving her face full of a pound of grapes and cheese a day! Go ahead and starve, Mom!”
If breastfeeding wasn’t an all or nothing situation with her (it was with Evan too), I think I wouldn’t have been so ready to wean. Her refusal to take a bottle or a cup was SO FRUSTRATING. I felt like I was trapped. I worried constantly about how she would deal if something happened to me. Would she starve? Would she be traumatized for life? I don’t want to sound over-dramatic but having someone THAT dependent on me often felt like more than I was prepared for. I think part of my problem with anxiety came from the pressure I put on myself to breastfeed – but I ALSO put a lot of pressure on myself to wean before vacation. It was all I thought about. It’s sort of crazy how even though I think of myself as being super laid back and low stress when it comes to parenting – and in a lot of ways I am! Eat food off the floor! Rub your face on the dog! – this is such a stressful topic for me. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE breastfeeding and will absolutely breastfeed my next kid and wouldn’t take back the almost 30 combined months of nursing between Evan and Caroline. But I’m not going to let myself be the only food source a baby will accept again. My mental health suffers too much.
P.S. Caroline VERY CLEARLY asked for nursies on Tuesday around dinner time, so I caved and let her latch for a few minutes. I don’t know if she got anything but she remembered how to do it. I’m not going to pump while I’m gone but if she wants to go back to nursing once a day when I get back I’d be fine with that. Probably.