Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On Extended Breastfeeding and Weaning - Part II

By this point, my toddler was nursing three times per day: upon waking in the morning, before nap time in the afternoon, and before bedtime in the evening. I decided to cut out the "easiest" nursing session for her (the most difficult for me) first: the morning session.

It came down to breaking the routine: she awakes, I get her from her crib, bring her back to bed with me, she nurses, we both fall back to sleep for 30-60 minutes. Instead, when she woke up, I got her from her crib, said our good mornings, and went straight to the kitchen for some breakfast. There was definitely some asking and whining those first few mornings, but she quickly forgot all about nursing once she had food in front of her face.

Day 3 was absolutely the worst - of every week. 
Total meltdown. Kicking. Screaming. Tantruming.

After one week of our new routine, she didn't even ask about nursing in the morning - it became a thing of the past. 

Next to go was the nap time session. She used nursing as a crutch to fall asleep quickly and I knew this would be a bit tougher. It helped that I was traveling for work that week, so we would be in a hotel room (routine all ready broken) and I would be gone all day long and for naps. She would have to go down for a nap with Daddy and no nursing. We returned home on the fourth day and she wanted to nurse for nap time. Instead, I left the house and let the nanny put her down for her nap. By the next day, she was upset, but not crying. I did have to stand by her crib and help her fall asleep by resting my hand on her back, but she didn't ask to nurse - not once. By day seven, we were golden. (Note: I still have to help her fall asleep a bit for nap time, but it is getting less and less as the days go on).

The final and hardest session to extinct was before bedtime. Our normal nightly routine was: walk, dinner, bath, jammies, story time, nurse, bed. I didn't want to change our nightly routine too much, as it worked really well for us as a family and Ella thrives on routine. It was getting to the point that I would be drying her off after her bath and she would be screaming for "boo" (her word for nursing), thrashing around, and just flipping out because she knew that it was coming soon and she wanted it NOW. 

It just so happens that we would, once again, be out of town during the week that I was going to wean her from her last nursing session. We were going to visit my family in Minnesota, so we would all ready be out of our 'normal' routine - which helped! The first night she was so tired from all day travel, that we skipped our walk, went straight to dinner, skipped the bath, put on jammies, and went straight to bed. She was so tired she didn't even ask to nurse. The second night was similar - skipped the walk (it was freezing, literally, outside), had dinner, a shower, jammies, and then to bed with Daddy. She fussed for a little bit with him, but eventually fell asleep on top of him. I should note that she slept with us in our bed while we were in Minnesota, so that probably helped a lot that she had someone to snuggle with and stay asleep on all night.

The third night was a bit rougher - Mr. Lukie took her upstairs for bed and she screamed and cried for Mama - but never for "boo". I went up there, laid with them until she fell asleep, and then snuck back downstairs to hang with my mama. By the fourth (and final) night in Minnesota, she went to sleep without a fuss. And things continued to progress once we got home. We went back to our old routine of walk, dinner, bath, jammies, story time, and then replaced nursing with rocking in the glider. She did ask to nurse a few times here and there over the next few weeks, but I would smile and say, "Silly goose! Boo is all gone, remember? You're a big girl now and big girls don't have boo!" and she would just smile and laugh along with me.

We are now one month into being fully weaned and can I just tell you how AMAZING it is? My girl snuggles me for no other reason than because she wants to snuggle. Not ulterior motive of wanting to nurse. Our relationship has changed so, so much, and for the better! I feel like she sees me as her Mama now, and not just a pair of breasts. I am able to comfort her by rocking, rubbing her back, playing with her hair, or just snuggling. I don't have to nurse her to get her to calm down or to relax anymore. Between the natural process of becoming a toddler and growing up a little bit and finding our own groove, we've got this comfort thing down, sans nursing. 

I thought I would miss nursing her. The truth is, I don't. We had a good, long run of 19 months of nursing. As I mentioned before, I never, ever, ever anticipated nursing her for that long. Not ever. So the fact is, we had our time and it was lovely. And I think we are both all the better for it.

Part I can be found here.

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