Here we go. The post that I literally thought that I would never write, not because I was embarrassed, but because I swore that my Luca would breastfeed FOREVER. The journey started the day he was born. My goal was six months. Six months arrived, we had a great system going, he was healthy, my body was producing enough, we kept going. 11 months arrived and with it came a positive pregnancy test. I instantly googled “can you breastfeed during pregnancy?” Looking back, it was very interesting that my initial thought wasn’t to wean him right then and there.. but, I remember thinking to myself “he is still so little, my milk is so good for him and he didn’t ask for me to get pregnant again.” So. We continued. First birthday arrives, we celebrate on the ocean with balloons, a big 1 candle, and a whole lot of “morning” sickness. I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t consider weaning him every single day of that first trimester of my pregnancy. But, I didn’t. Again, I reminded myself that he was still little and that he deserved his mama while he could have her all to himself. I would say that it’s true (at least in my case) that breastfeeding exaggerates morning sickness during pregnancy, but, I kept on. 13 months arrive, along with it, our first doctors appt to hear a heartbeat. I remember asking “be honest, can I continue to breastfeed him during this pregnancy?” to which my doctor responded “honey, you can do whatever you desire. your body was made for this.. but, I will tell you, your milk will change and he will probably wean himself and not want to nurse anymore in a few weeks.” Well, friends, that didn’t happen… not even close. He continued to breastfeed my entire pregnancy, and for the first three months of Lennon’s life. Yes, my milk did change, hell, I honestly think that it dried up for a solid three months… but, friends, those of you who breastfeed know this: breastfeeding is SO much more than feeding. It’s comfort. It’s attachment. It’s bond. It’s love in the rawest form.
Luca never cared that my milk went away, and neither did I….until I had a toddler who was literally as big as I was ripping my shirt off in public, pushing his sister off of me, and whining to nurse every second of every day. It was time. I truly didn’t want it to be time, I was terrified… I was heartbroken, I was torn. I freaking loved nursing Luca up until the last time that I nursed him and truly, if he wasn’t so damn strong, I probably would still be nursing him. But, it was time. He was ready. It was me that wasn’t.
I think that’s the biggest message that I have for all the mama’s who are in this same position of wondering “if it’s time.” Gosh, what freaking pressure is that. Is it time to take away the one constant that my child has ever known? Is it time to deprive my child of the thing that makes him feel secure? Sheesh, the guilt is SO real… which is why I think so many of us put this off for as long as we do. When I considered weaning before Lennon was born I came across an article that literally read “weaning your child is the first form of trauma that your child experiences in their life.” WTF. That’s all I had to read to know that it wasn’t time (even though it probably was). The truth is this: it’s hard, but it is okay. It’s a major life lesson for both your baby and for you (at least it was for me).
If I am being so honest, the fact that I put weaning off so long was selfish. I was afraid that the bond that I shared with my son would be gone. I was afraid that taking away the thing that made him “need me” would make him not “need me” anymore. I was scared that I would hurt him. I was afraid that I would be an emotional wreck knowing that my baby wasn’t quite a baby anymore. I was afraid that the physical connection that we had would be gone forever. Let me tell you, now that I am on the other side of this: all of my fears were valid, but, my child was ready, it was me that wasn’t.
Luca and I are closer than we have ever been. Luca still needs me. Luca was unhappy for a few weeks, but he is more than okay. Luca still hugs me, kisses me, and lets me rock him to sleep (with his arms wrapped so tightly around my neck that I swear he is going to choke me to death) every single night. Weaning wasn’t nearly as bad as I prepared myself for it to be. Like anything in life that is scary, we just have to do it. We just have to start. We just have to find the courage in ourselves to do the hard things, to stick to our decisions and to be stronger than our emotions (and our mom guilt).
How I Weaned
At the end Luca was nursing first thing in the morning, before his afternoon nap and at bed time. 3 times a day, most days. Sometimes it was as many as six times a day because we would watch Lennon nurse and he would want to nurse too. This is when it got hard because I knew he didn’t need to nurse, but I knew he wanted to nurse, and I also knew that saying “yes” was a whole lot easier than the tantrum that came by saying “no.” Yup. I was that mom. The one who chose to do what was “easier” for her than what was “right” for her child. It’s hard guys. But, I had to get to the point of knowing that it was time in order for me to actually follow through and when I saw that my otherwise independent child was using me as a crutch, I knew it was time. Also, who has the time to nurse literally 6 hours a day, because friends, Lennon nurses about every two hours during the day and up until she started sleeping through the night, she was nursing twice at night as well. So, Leni on her own was nursing roughly 8-10 times a day, then factor in Luca’s typical 3 feedings, that puts me at 13 nursing sessions on a GOOD day. Come on. I literally didn’t even want to be touched at the end of the day (because I had literally had a child attached to my nipple for my entire day.) Which, without needing to say, isn’t fair to my husband and he deserves a wife who is open to affection and love. But, I was over it because I just felt like my body was literally being clung to all day long and for the first time ever, I started to view breastfeeding as a chore. Both of these reasons also made me know that it had to happen.
The timing was perfect. I was going to do an overnight in Philly with my girlfriends for the playoff game– which meant that Luca would be without me for two full days. In my mind, that was a good way to ease into this whole weaning thing. Let me go ahead and say: this is one of those things that takes time. I wanted to be gentle. I wanted to be patient, and this worked for us. So, two days away in Philly and Luca only tried to pull on my Mom’s shirt ONE time, and didn’t try to nurse when he was getting put to sleep. I was shocked. When I returned from Philly, I could tell that he had kind of forgotten…and guys, that was only like 48 hours away. So, I knew that we could do it, and we could both be okay.
I decided that when R and I returned from our weekend getaway that I would officially be done nursing Luca. I had roughly 2.5 weeks between Philly and vacation. During those 2.5 weeks I slowly started saying “you’re a big boy now, you don’t need mommy’s milk anymore” when he would try to nurse during the day. Not going to lie, the first few days were ROUGH. He would literally throw himself on the floor and scream. It was tough, but I was tougher… and this was something that I had to remind myself of a few times a day. So, I started with denying him those random daily nursing sessions and then next up came the morning nursing session. Some mornings R would wake up with Luca and they would come down and R would get him a cup of juice or milk. These morning were easier, but when I would wake up with Luca, it was a little harder because he would literally walk over to the sofa, slap his hands on it and he would tell me “sit down.” Literally. Again, it was time. So, on these mornings, distraction was everything. Sometimes he would take the bait of a new puzzle, or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse first thing in the day, and other days he would literally be on my heels for an hour crying. Those days were tough, but, they lasted maybe 5 mornings until this stopped.
Once the morning session was gone, I worked on the nap time situation. I went to Target and bought two new special Paw Patrol cups… and I made them a REALLY big deal, like as big of a deal as a new Chanel Boy Bag, or a Bentley, or something like that. Anyway. When he saw them on the counter I told him “those are your new big boy cups because you’re a big boy now and you drink big boy milk.” I literally repeated this every single time he saw the cups for a day or two, and then, one day at nap I was feeling strong enough to actually do it. So, we grabbed his big boy cup and we went upstairs. We sat down in his rocker and instead of nursing, I held him and offered him his big boy cup. He hated it. He cried. Spit all the milk all over me. It didn’t go well. But, I stuck to my guns, and we rocked and he spit milk and I just kept telling him what a big boy he was and how much mommy loved him, and then I put him in his bed.
We kept this going for a few days. Sometimes R would put him down, other days I would. After about 3 days of this nap routine, he stopped trying to nurse at nap.
Next up, bedtime. The one I was most scared and sad for. I have always been the one to do bedtime, mostly because during football season R isn’t home until the kids are asleep. So, as long as Luca has been alive we have had the same routine. We rock, and while he nurses we talk about all of the people who love him, all the way from Mommy and Daddy to Jesus to Remi and Teddy and everybody in between, we then talk about what we did that day and how proud we are of him, and then we say our prayers, and he goes to sleep happily and without a fuss. I was scared to mess up this routine, for him and for me. But, I just decided to do it. Once we got rid of morning and nap time, I think I knew that I just had to do it and stay strong and even though my goal was when we returned from vacation to be done nursing, it happened before we even left. I found that I had this major anxiety and fear about knowing when exactly the last nursing session was going to be (the bedtime before we left), so instead, I just stayed fully present every time we nursed while weaning so that I knew whenever it happened that I had savored every second.
To be honest, I don’t know which session was our last.. and I am happy about that. I know myself, and I know that I am a super emotional person, so I have to protect my heart the best I can and I also have to prevent whatever unnecessary emotions I can… and the amount of anxiety that I was having thinking about that last nursing session, I just knew that it wasn’t the best method for me. So, I didn’t plant the last session. I went off of Luca, and he was ready sooner than I was.
It’s amazing how something can feel so scary and so daunting and then 10 days later it all kind of blends together. Luca has tried to put his hand in my shirt a few times since returning home. I just gently remove his hand and say those same word “you’re a big boy now!” and then we distract with a puzzle or a toy or the dogs. During the weaning days I did my best to nurse Lennon away from him, because I figured that him seeing her nurse would just make the whole thing harder. I am so thankful that I had R home and that he was on my team with this whole process because he really kept me strong and helped to distract Luca.
I want to be honest: Luca is happier now. He is far less fussy and he truly seems like a big boy. He is more than fine. He still loves me. He still hugs me. He still needs me. All of the things that I was afraid of were constructed in my own mind, by my own mom guilt. There were a few hard days, but, for the most part, it was a whole lot easier than I ever imagined. If you are starting to feel annoyed at your child when they want to nurse, instead of beating yourself up (like I did) just know that it’s okay. You have done the best job ever. You have given your child the gift of nourishment, bond, and love and again, of yourself. Whether you’ve been nursing for 3 days, 3 months, or 3 years, you are a rockstar and your child is lucky to have whatever it is that you’ve given them. Breastfeeding is a beautiful journey, a beautiful bond and something that I am so thankful to have been able to give to my boy for as long as I did. It was a single chapter of our mother and son relationship that is now written, and now done. As sad as it makes me that those days are gone, I am far more excited about all of the chapters that lay ahead of us. I am so eager to watch him grow, flourish and strive as not a baby, but a boy. I am so proud of myself for the constant love and foundation that I was able to provide during the first two years of his life through breastfeeding and I am even more proud that the constant love and foundation we’ve built runs far deeper than my breast, it’s never ending, never changing.
However you feed your baby, you rock. A fed baby is a happy baby. If you are a breastfeeding mama just know that I am so proud of you and I am always here if you have questions.
oh, the chapters in our books of motherhood. xo, G