Today I want to talk about weaning, but let’s ease into it with some general life chatter first.
Let’s look at some pictures first //
Natalie’s 12-month photo! And yes, that is THE chair! It’s perfect and I’m so excited for the next stage in her photo project. You know what it’s also perfect as? A launchpad! A trampoline! A literal stepping stone to bigger and better things, like the couch!
Yeah, we’ve had to place it in quarantine for now because someone can’t quite be trusted to use it as, you know, a chair right now.
CHAIR: UR DOIN IT WRONG.
At least it makes a very pretty photo prop.
OK onto the main topic of discussion //
Natalie is weaning. I am weaning Natalie. I’m not sure how to accurately describe it, because it is far from the painful, tearful process I imagined (and was told) it would be. Just two weeks ago she was nursing 4-5 times a day in a roughly 13-hour period — waking up around 6 a.m. and going to bed at 7 p.m., and no nursing overnight. And then, quite by accident, we were busy one afternoon and just kind of skipped right by the afternoon nursing.
And it was fine.
So I did it again the next day. And it was just fine.
At which point I kind of shrugged to myself and said, ok, I guess this is happening now.
Now, a week and a half later, she is nursing twice a day: once when she wakes up, and once when she goes to bed. Last night she only nursed on one side, so it’s really only like 1.5 times per day.
I am not going to lie: this has been much harder on me than it has been on Natalie. It’s bittersweet in ways that I never quite expected. On the one hand, I am THRILLED beyond measure to not be tethered to Natalie in four-hour increments. That has been really, really hard, and I truly wish that I had introduced the bottle and started to pump earlier so that someone else (HI WILL) could’ve helped out more with that aspect of her care.
(Side note: if anyone so much as breathes the words “nipple confusion” in the comments, I will virtually smack you upside the head. I don’t want to hear it. Srsly.)
But on the other hand, this time that I’ve had with her has been, by and large, one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given. Yeah, I know how obnoxious this is, but I’m totally going to play the “I just didn’t get it until I became a mom!” card. #sorrynotsorry
So that’s how I found myself crying over Natalie’s afternoon snack last week when she woke up from her nap and I did not sit with her so she could nurse. I popped her in the highchair, handed over a pouch, and she hoovered it right up. She watched me warily as the tears flowed freely down my face, obviously deeply concerned that this would interfere with my ability to fill another pouch for her.
It was fine. It was so fine that I was devastated. Is that messed up? I feel like it’s messed up. Welcome to motherhood.
She’s ready. She’s not signing for milk or tugging at my shirt or being exceptionally clingy. And even though the amount of time we spend together hasn’t changed, I’ve been careful to spend more time with her on my lap reading books, or pulling her close for a hug and a kiss, or picking her up and singing her a song. The only change is that she’s eating more solid foods, since we’ve added a couple of extra snacks during the day to make up for the loss of those calories.
We introduced cow’s milk last week, and that’s been going…ok. At first she flat-out refused it by opening her mouth after taking a sip and letting it all fall out, but then I read a tip online that the milk might have to be sweetened at first. So for a few days I made her a baby milkshake by blending half a banana with 4-5 oz of whole milk, and she was a big fan of that. I gradually cut down the amount of banana in the milk, and now she’ll drink it straight up. She’s still not crazy about it and prefers to drink water, but since she eats an insane amount of food for a one-year old, I’m not concerned. I just provide the food and drink and I trust she’ll take what she needs.
I don’t know what’s going to happen after we cut out the bedtime nursing. The tentative plan is to see how it goes through the weekend, and then either Sunday or Monday night we’ll launch into the bedtime routine without nursing. I don’t mind taking this slowly. There’s no need to shock her system by cutting her off cold turkey (um also I remember how incredibly painful it was when my milk first came in and when I had blocked ducts, so I have zero intention of weaning abruptly. It’s for my own good.). And if she needs to keep the morning nursing for a while, that’s ok. I’m not usually in the habit of dashing out of the house at 5 a.m., so I don’t mind if we hold onto that one for a bit.
Plus, if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t think I’m ready for her to be completely done with nursing. Which is odd, because now I feel selfish both for wanting to continue and for wanting to be done.
I have no doubt that some of you may be thinking, if you’re so sad, why give it up? And to that I can only say that this is how I imagine it will feel to send her off to kindergarten, or the first time I realize that I’m embarrassing her in public, or when she starts calling me “Mom” instead of “Mamamamamama.”
I’m not crying because this is a sad event; I’m crying because it’s the ending of this particular period of our relationship. She’s growing up and that’s amazing and exactly what she’s supposed to be doing.
But endings are complicated, even when you know what comes next is…just fine.