Weaning Declan

When we booked our flights to Scotland, I knew I would need to start weaning Declan. It was not something I wanted to do. I am grateful I was able to nurse Declan for as long as I did. I am grateful my body kept up and my baby was willing. I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding (sometimes both simultaneously) since October 2008 and I didn't want to break my streak. However, it was kind of nice to think that my body would no longer have a parasite!

I pulled out a post-it note ten weeks before I needed to be done breastfeeding him. I wrote down the current times he was nursing (6am, 8am, 10am, 3pm, 8pm) and then every other Monday I dropped a feeding. When I first made the schedule, the drop to one feeding a day seemed so far away and so I was willing to start and then I just had to stick to the schedule. It was sad and hard, but it was necessary.

The first step was to completely eliminate Declan's occasional overnight feedings. Sam went on a trip to Houston and I knew Declan needed to start sleeping through the night. He woke up a few times the first night and instead of nursing him, I helped him calm down and he was very unhappy. But after that night, he didn't wake up again. That made weaning so much easier.

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Breastfeeding had gotten to the point where it was easy. Declan knew when it was time to switch sides. He would pull off, sit up, and faceplant into the other, currently covered, boob. Decreasing feedings started out easy. When it got down to only one feeding a day, Declan was a little grumpier about what was going on. One day I got out of the shower and was getting dressed. He ran over to me panting because he thought he was getting nursed. I had originally planned to keep just the 8pm feeding but on the Monday I was dropping down to one feeding, Declan woke up early so I fed him then. That meant I could not feed him before bed. He looked so betrayed when I put him in bed without nursing him. He cried for a couple of minutes and then fell asleep and slept through the night. So then the next morning, I didn't feed him so I could switch to feeding him before bed. That meant I went 36 hours without nursing him and I was so engorged. That worried me for what was to come. Emotionally, Declan seemed fine. He started eating a lot more real food. If we weren't going to Scotland then I would probably nurse Declan for many more months. I felt selfish for weaning him. I wanted to be okay with it because logically I could say to myself, "You nursed him for 14 months.
That is above and beyond." But then my emotions jumped in and said, "He needs you! He still wants you! Don't give up this incredible bond!" And it makes me sad.

I always nursed Declan while I was lying down. Even the first night in the hospital. Declan became a very acrobatic eater and it made me laugh to watch him keep his head right where it needed but twist his body and stick one leg up in the air.

After I put Declan in bed after nursing him for the last time, I was crying in my bed and said to Sam, "I don't want to be done." He hugged me and said, "Well, you can go every other [day] now." I laughed. Declan would be so confused and although that would be better for me, I don't want to do something just for my own good, at Declan's expense. Funny that breastfeeding started and ended with crying. I will have to find a different way to get snuggles with my baby.

Update, part 1: About one and a half weeks after I weaned Declan, the engorgement hit. It was so painful and nothing helped. Until my sister-in-law suggested I soak in Bear Lake that was incredibly cold. The engorgement went away and the residual pain disappeared a few days later.
Update, part 2: When we got back from Scotland, I offered the breast to Declan to see if he would latch on. He laughed. I guess he isn't emotionally scarred for life. Although, maybe he wasn't before but now he is. Oops.
Update, part 3: Since my brothers are already traumatized from this much information, I will add that I started my period exactly one week after weaning Declan. Just a few days short of two years without a period! So amazing and probably the second greatest side effect of pregnancy (the first is a baby).

1 comment:

Olivia said...

Hey, what's childhood without a little emotional scarring?

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