Weaning

When I was pregnant with Lids I knew I wanted to breastfeed if at all possible and I knew I wanted to do everything in my power to make it possible. My next dream was to continue breastfeeding until she was at least 1 year old. That dream has been fulfilled.

Now, at 13 months, the (gradual) wean is on. I suppose it has been on since Lids started eating solids, followed by the gradual drop of nursing sessions from the nursing on demand infant to the 4-5 nursings a day baby-toddler she was around her first birthday. But this is the first time it really feels like weaning. This is the first time that Lids is getting milk that isn’t through breastfeeding.

I have been working at home since Lids was born so we have never really had any reason to give her bottles of pumped milk. I did pump a few times with a hand pump just to get the hang of it if ever needed early on, and I think there were maybe 2 or 3 occasions when she had a bottle so I could have a few drinks or do an airport run while Daddy stayed home with her, but it never went very well. She has always been a boob girl and really, that was just fine because the boobs were always there for her.

I remember when Lids latched on that first day in hospital. I remember she latched on well but didn’t stay latched for long and I worried that she wouldn’t latch on more… but by day two, she was already nusring like a pro and by the time my milk came in on day 3, she was guzzling milk like it was her job. Our tiny 5lb 15oz girl was rapidly gaining weight in those first several months through mama’s milk and nothing more. I was proud. Proud of her and proud of my body. I was producing milk by the bucket load, leaking day and night, but Lids didn’t mind and therefore, nor did I.

At around 6 months Lids started on solids but wasn’t overly keen (and still isn’t) so mama’s milk was still her favourite source of energy and she was still nursing every 2 – 3 hours during the day until about 9 months (she night weaned very early.. other than the occasional 5:30am feed which she recently dropped completely). Around 9 months, I realized I was offering her milk more than she even really wanted (although this girl never says no to mama’s milk) so I stopped offering and let her create her own schedule which brought her down from 6-7 to 4-5 nursings a day which continued until less than a week ago.

Last Friday when it was time for Lids’ afternoon nursing, I filled up her new sippy cup (I thought maybe having a new ‘milk’ sippy cup instead of her water or smoothie sippy cup would help), brought her into her room in our usual nursing chair (I have heard to try locations / positions that do NOT remind baby of nursing but I just didn’t feel this was best for us and I think I was right). We snuggled into the chair together as we have everyday for the past 13 months. She looked up at me, signed ‘milk’ and quickly nuzzled her face into my chest, but instead of lifting my top, I said and signed ‘milk’ back to her and offered her the cup and…. she took it…. like she had been doing it all her life! Cue tears. I thought I was going to have to struggle to get her to drink the milk and quite honestly I thought I would end up nursing her that afternoon.. but no, she took 8 oz of whole milk, snuggled in my arms, then went about her daily schedule exactly as she does every other day.

I had spent so much time worrying about how Lids would take the change that I never even thought it could go this smoothly… and I never thought how I would feel if it did. Part of me of course is over the moon that I didn’t have to see her upset and that she is just as happy to have milk from her sippy cup… but then another part of me feels heartbroken that… she wasn’t upset and that she is just as happy to have milk from her sippy cup.

Of course, we still have 3 nursings to go and I am sure the final 2 won’t be nearly as easy, but then again maybe they will. I have to say, I don’t think I am quite ready to find out.

Tonight I snuggled my sweet girl extra tight as I nursed her before bed and thought about this amazing journey we’ve been through together. Hundreds and hundreds of nursing sessions… in bed, on the couch, in restaurants, backs of cars, airplanes, bathrooms, in fields, on the beach, while walking, while working, while reading, while eating, while drinking a glass of wine (judge me), while Skyping, while half asleep, while wide awake, covered, uncovered… but most of them, in our favourite red chair in the corner of her little room, snuggled in each others arms. Honestly, I am not ready to be completely done with this amazing journey and I truly hope it won’t be the end just yet, but when the time does come, I will be happy knowing that she is happy. And even if it hurt a bit to look down at Lids enjoying her sippy cup of milk, it made me realize that only one tiny part of our amazing relationship and journey together is ending. She was still there in my arms, she was still my girl and I was still her mum. She still needed me and she always will… just not in the same way… and that is okay.

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31 responses

  1. Man, Lids really does remind me so much of Stella. She did the same dang thing with milk. She was 12mo3weeks old when we introduced cow’s milk, and I literally just handed her a (new) sippy cup of milk, and bam, she sucked it down. No problem. I was so proud of her, and my heart broke just a little, all at the same time. *sigh*

    I’m glad that this is going smoothly for you guys at least! Good luck with the rest of the weaning process. I’m finding that Stella is nursing less and less at night (maybe just a couple minutes instead of 10-15?)… and might be sort of weaning herself from that. I have a feeling the morning one will be the last to go for us, but we shall see.

    Love the cuddles pic. πŸ™‚

    • Yes, Stella reminds me so much of Lids too!! Crazy! They seriously need to hang out someday. Glad Stella’s weaning is going as well as Lids. I am glad it is going so well but at the same time, a little sad like you said. Lids is starting to nurse less most of the time too. We’ll see what happens from here. Just taking it one day at a time and following her lead now that she is happy with a sippy cup of whole milk some of the time. Honestly, I think she would be ready to go sippy cup all the time now but I’m not quite there! πŸ˜‰

  2. Awww! Em’s started drinking whole milk a few weeks ago at daycare with her meals, no problem. Hasn’t dropped a single nursing session and is still all about the boob, almost too much so at times. She also just recently started signing “milk” and “more” infrequently if prompted/shown, so I’m super impressed that Lid signs to request it! You go girl!

    Good luck with the slow wean and TTC #2!

    • That is great that Em has done well with taking up the whole milk at daycare… even if still nursing as much. She’ll get there eventually but good that you aren’t feeling like you need to rush her! I love the signing. It is soo nice to finally know what Lids is asking for at least some of the time. I am sure Em will start doing it consistently soon. It took me doing it to Lids a long time before she started doing it back but now it is all the time. Very handy!

  3. Same experience with the sippy cup of milk here! I was so ready for the pouting and demanding to nurse, and no. She was thrilled with snuggles and the cup. I waited to cry until I’d put her down, but it was close (so I guess I was more into the whole nursing thing than I thought by the end). Good luck with the rest!

    • I suppose it could be much worse than snuggle and a sippy cup eh?! πŸ™‚ I am glad Lids still wants to have her milk in my nap so only a small part of the connection has gone (okay, maybe a big part but I try to convince myself otherwise!!). We’ll get there and I am sure Lids (and I) will be just fine!! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the support.

  4. Fiona. This made me cry. Nursing is such a beautiful thing!

    Weaning is a very weird thing. I thought I was SOREADY to wean. Then when we dropped that first feeding easily I nearly lost it. I was so emotional…so upset…so sad. I felt rushed. We were ready to try for baby #2 and I was feeling like B wasn’t ready. Then she sucked that first sippy cup of milk down like a champ! It turned out that she was ready.

    I did the same as you. We snuggled up in that rocker as I fed her sippy of milk each afternoon. I had tears as she was loving the cow’s milk.

    Once I got down to just the morning and night feedings I started to feel better. It was such a balance…nursing, solids, and milk! YAY! I could have done that forever. Ok…maybe not forever. But I could have continued that for a while, a long time.

    I still miss nursing and B has been completely weaned for a bit over 3 months. I have such fond memories of it and it brings up such emotion in me. I am proud of my body and of my baby. We were lucky. I sometimes wonder if I would have struggled so much with weaning if we hadn’t struggled so much to conceive.

    This is a link to one of my favorite blogs. She just recently weaned (and is actually struggling to conceive #2). This post opened my eyes to the emotions I felt after weaning. I didn’t have any clue other women felt this way or that weaning and depression were linked! The links she has in her post are wonderful.

    http://www.motleymama.com/2013/01/29/grief-weaning/

    Sorry I wrote a book for a comment. My point is…weaning is emotional…I understand…I am here you and thinking of you. Also, love the pic πŸ™‚

    • Kelly – Thank you so much for your comment and for your awesome support!! Thank you also for sharing those links. So helpful to read and to hear from others that are going through / have been through the emotional process of weaning. I am going through a weird stage right now of trying my best not to think about the true end. Like you said about the balance you felt when down to 2 feeds, I am hoping to feel that soon too and would love to be able to continue with that balance for a while longer if my body and Lids allow. I still can’t even allow myself to think about the final time we will nurse and it being over forever. It has been such an amazing journey and like nothing else I have ever done or experienced. The bonding that has taken place in those moments has been so incredibly special. I am thankful that she has taken her sippy cup so well and even more thankful that she still lets me snuggle her while she drinks it. I know that it really will be okay in the end but I do worry about the feelings that are going to come up in the next few months as it does come to a close. Having the support from you and the other ladies really does mean so much to me. I barely have any good IRL with children and even less who BF to a point where they were feeling unsure or sad about weaning… so it is nice to speak to others who can relate. Thank you so much for your support. I am sure I’ll have more posts on all of these to come in the next few months. Sorry, I’ve now just written a bit of a book back to you in the comments.. and I didn’t even use paragraphs!! πŸ˜‰

  5. This totally made me cry, so beautifully written and I so wish I could have had this kind of experience with Emily and now with Gavin. You should be so proud of yourself, you have done such an amazing thing!!

  6. This reminds me so much of when I weaned Matthew. Heartbreak! He was the same way with whole milk – didn’t bat an eye and I was devastated. I had this whole plan of how to transition him by mixing breast and whole milk, but he took the whole milk like he’d had it his entire life. I was relieved, but also so sad.

    Seeing the picture of you two in my reader broke my heart. I remember those nights of cherishing the snuggles, knowing that weaning was on the way. What I can tell you, though, is that you can still have those snuggles after she’s weaned. I still rock Matthew almost to sleep (judge me) before each nap and bedtime – DAILY. It’s how I’ve held onto the baby-ness of him and I’m still not ready to let that go – and he’s almost 20 months old! You can make it work in your favor… just start pushing it now like you are (rocking with her cup of milk)!

    This is a hard time. This was the HARDEST thing I ever had to DECIDE to do. I knew it had to be done, but I kept delaying it until it just HAD to be done. Ugh.

    It will be OK!

    • Thank you so much for this Courtney. It really is a super tough and emotional time but it is so good to know that it doesn’t have to be the end of the snuggles and that special connection. Sure the physical part of the feeding will go but to still be able to snuggle her and giving her the cup of milk… that is so important to me and hopefully something that can continue for a while longer. I love that you still rock Matthew every nap and bedtime. What a special time for both of you and I am sure it made the weaning process so much easier. Anything I can take to make it easier, I’ll do it. Right now I am still doing okay with the whole thing, knowing (hoping) we will hang on to those final two feedings for as long as we can. I am not looking forward to that final nursing and won’t even let myself think about it yet. I really never expected weaning to be this hard, but I know from you and other mothers who have been there, it is going to be tough on us mamas and that is something I must except… but at the same time, it really will be okay. Thanks so much for your support! πŸ™‚

  7. Terrific post Fiona. I thought the same thing when I started weaning James, he would put up a huge fuss and never take a bottle or cup. How wrong I was! Congratulations on taking the first step towards weaning and TTC #2 how exciting!

    • I guess our kiddos are just much better at this weaning thing than us mamas!! πŸ˜‰ Which is a good thing I suppose. We are excited to get back into TTC and look forward to seeing Lids become a big sister someday in the hopefully not too distant future πŸ™‚

  8. Alex was the same way. Even now he gets so excited when he sees a bottle that I wonder “does he even miss nursing?” The answer is probably no, he doesn’t. He would probably be happy to nurse to this day but doesn’t look up at me with woeful eyes because he doesn’t anymore, like I had imagined. That was ALL me projecting onto him!

    As our babies grow, they will need us and cuddle us in different ways at different times, and that’s okay : )

  9. Weaning is such an emotional thing. This is a beautiful post! Happy for you that Lids took the sippy of milk to easily! And SO excited that you’re thinking of TTC soon! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Ariel. It really is so emotional! Much more than I expected when I first began BF. But yes, so glad Lids is taking it so well and I am sure I’ll be just fine in the end πŸ™‚

  10. Fiona-This is such a wonderful post! I too am so sad at the tought of weaning. I know that when we wean I will never nurse another baby again and that makes me so very sad. I have loved nursing so much! And to think that when I was pregnant for Savannah I wasn’t sure if nursing was for me. Ha!

    I am so excited & happy that you will be starting the TTC again. Hopefully things will be easier for you the second time around. I will say an extra prayer for you!

    • Aww it makes me so sad for you to have to think about the end of weaning as a whole thing. Knowing (at least really really hoping) that we will have another child gets me through weaning a bit better.. but who knows, maybe it won’t be so easy the next time around. It is a very emotional thing. I am glad it ended up working out for you after thinking you may not even nurse Savannah in the first place. I too have just loved it so much!

      I’ll keep you updated with our TTC #2 chapter. Hoping it is easier this time as well! πŸ™‚

  11. You should be proud of your body and your beautiful little girl. It looks like she is ready for the transition, but what you’ve given her thus far with your milk is such a blessing to that little girl.

    Good luck with the weaning and the return of AF – you guys make gorgeous babies so I’m excited to hear whiff of TTC#2!

  12. This is teh sweetest post. I only nursed Carter for 8 months because the pumping while at work became too hectic for me. I can tell you though, at least for me and for a lot of girls I’m friends with that nursed, AF doesn’t usually come right when you stop. It took me 4 months AFTER Carter was 100% weaned to get it back and I know several people that took longer than that. Just something to think about when planning for #2. I’m so excited y’all are planning for it though. I can’t wait to see how everything goes. The picture of her in your lap is the most precious picture ever. I just love her cheeks!!!!

    • I can’t even imagine pumping all that time. You did amazingly to make it to 8 months! πŸ™‚ I know that AF seems to be so different for everyone. I know some ladies get it back while still breastfeeding 5-6 times a day, and others not until a couple months after weaning, and then others (which I am hoping for) get it back once down to 2 feeds a day, especially once baby is over a year. We’ll see. I am ready!! Do you plan to have more kiddos too?

  13. Ohhhh there are so many emotions that go along with nursing!! I didn’t really predict that. Such a beautiful post. I’m glad she took to the whole milk so well though. Although that was hard to see, it was better than a screaming fit! You can go forward with your weaning plan at whatever pace feels right and know that little miss Lids is happy.

    I’m definitely going to be following your progress on this. B is pretty much still on a newborn nursing schedule so I have no idea when or how we’ll ever wean. Somehow though AF returned for me when he was 11 months which felt really unfair!

    • Yes, so many emotions that I really didn’t expect when I first got into this whole nursing business. I knew I wanted to do it but I didn’t know how attached I would be by this point. Definitely nice to see Lids enjoy her sippy cup of milk rather than scream and hate it, so that was a plus.

      Hoping your weaning journey goes well whenever you get to it. I will be sure to keep posting about how it goes for us over the next few months and if I have any tips along the way πŸ™‚

      Sorry AF returned for you while still BF so much. So odd how it can be different for everyone. Really hoping mine is back in the next couple months.

  14. This is such a sweet post. Mira is still nursing on demand (with the caveat that I’m gone during weekdays) and I have no idea how I’ll ever wean her, but it has to happen at some point. I’m sorry that you’re having to make the decision to cut back perhaps before you’re quite ready, but I have a hard time imagining a scenario in which weaning wouldn’t carry bittersweet emotions. How fortunate that Lids likes cow milk! She’ll be your snugly baby for a long time, that much is clear. πŸ™‚

    • I am sure when the time comes, you and Mira will figure out the weaning process that best works for both of you. I expected Lids to take is so much worse but like I said, she is doing amazingly so far with the one sippy cup of milk a day. Hoping the rest goes as smoothly (for both of us). I think you are absolutely right… no matter when it happens, weaning will be bittersweet. Waiting a few months more would be just as tough, I am sure. So glad she still wants to snuggle while having her milk. That has saved me I think πŸ™‚

  15. Weaning was REALLY hard on me. Like, really hard. I had wanted to be one of those moms that lets baby wean on their own, but like you, we are feeling pressure to start fertility treatment again, so weaning was step one. It actually made me really angry that infertility was the reason I had to wean Harriet. Just another thing that infertility stole from me. But worse than that, now my infertility was stealing from my daughter. Not acceptable. I know I should feel lucky and blessed that I got to nurse her for 13 months, and I do, but I guess I wanted more than that. I have been meaning to blog about weaning for a long time now. Hopefully I will soon.

    • I am so sorry that weaning was so tough on you 😦 That makes me sad to hear. It sucks to be in the situation where you feel it necessary to wean for reasons that aren’t baby’s own.. that is exactly where we are. Lids is doing well but I know she wouldn’t have started to wean on her own, but also a lot of that is because she didn’t even know other options existed so didn’t know what she could wean to, if that makes sense. So I am glad she has taken it so well. How did Harriet do? I would really love to hear how your weaning process went. Did you hope to keep the final 1 or 2 nursings or did the doctors tell you to stop in order to pursue treatments? I am still keeping myself sane by telling myself I can keep those two feedings as long as Lids wants, but we’ll see what happens. I wish it didn’t have to be so tough and again, I am sorry it didn’t end how you had hoped it would. So glad you did get those 13 months though.

  16. Weaning is such an emotional thing. It’s exciting and terrifying and natural and not. It’s a bit of everything all wrapped up into one ball of beautiful baby. Sigh. I’m glad that Lids is surprising you so far with her adaptability. I know it’s bittersweet but allowing her to wean on her own does help find peace with the change – at least it helped me. I hope that the same is true for you. (And I hope that fricking, fracking AF returns!!)

  17. I am so so glad it went well and she took to milk so easily! Luke was not having it at all when I tried to wean him, he would refuse to take any milk at all out of sippy / bottle weather it was breastmilk, cow’s milk, didn’t matter. I ended up having to cut him off completely and it was just..awful. It wasn’t what I wanted to do at all but he was so determined I didn’t have much of choice. I’m glad she’s making this easy on you, even though it’s still a tough transition, for sure! Hugs, mama!

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