Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Adventures in Breastfeeding

So, I figured I'd write up a little post about my experiences with breastfeeding. As some of you may remember, I was a little weirded out about the idea of breastfeeding and I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to handle it. I was determined to try though, and my goal was to stick it out for at least 6 months, then 9 months, then one year. From the beginning I was pretty certain that after a year I would want to stop nursing.

Here's a little recap of how things went for us:

At day one, Sam latched on like a pro and got the nursing thing down right away. Strangely enough, it didn't bother me to have a little person sucking on my boob. Other than a couple of rough nights and days when my milk first came in, we really had no problems at all. Things were working out great!

Around 7 months, I decided that I wanted to start weaning her for some personal reasons. We decided that after the holidays we would start slowly switching her to formula. My plan was to drop one feeding a day and replace it with a bottle of formula. This worked well for a week or two - she took the formula with no issues at all. I never got past one or two formula feedings a day though. I found that nursing is just SO much more convenient. When we were out and about I would bring a bottle of formula and I could just give her that in the stroller, so that was nice. But at home the boob was just much easier. Sam and I had gotten into the routine of nursing her to sleep for naps, so we ended up sticking with that routine. And then we ended up cutting back on the formula too. And then she got sick, so I wanted her to have nothing but breastmilk so she could get healthy faster.

So, there we were a few months later, and we had made no more progress towards weaning. I think that part of it is just the fact that I wasn't as ready as I thought I was. I had heard from so many of my friends that their babies just weaned themselves around 10 months, so I was hoping that Sam would be the same. But no, this girl is addicted to the boob. Her bottom teeth came in, and I was a little scared about how that would feel. I could kind of feel the pressure from them but it wasn't enough to be uncomfortable. Well, now her top teeth are coming in, and OH BOY does it hurt. Almost every time I nurse her, the discomfort is almost unbearable. Add that to the fact that I am sick of my crappy nursing bras and longing to wear normal ones again, and I am SO ready to wean her. Mike and I will be going on our first overnight trip away from Sam in just a few weeks, so we really need to start getting her used to not having boob all day and night. Since her birthday is coming up in just a couple weeks, we went ahead and let her start drinking cow's milk. We give her organic whole milk, and she loves it! She's been drinking it in her sippy cup with meals, and (other than letting it drip out of the corners of her mouth, down her neck, and all over her shirt and hair) she is doing great with it.

Now for the hard part: cutting out the nursing to sleep routine for naps. I still nurse her at night most nights and I'm okay with that - I'm not ready to quit nursing cold turkey, I just want to cut out the daytime nursing for now. Mike is able to put her to bed some nights without her needing me to nurse, but if I put her to bed? Forget it. The boobs are right there, and she wants it. So this week I've decided to start attempting to put her down for a nap without nursing her. Yesterday I tried to give her a bottle of milk in the rocking chair, keeping the rest of our nap routine the same as always. She was not having it. She drank an ounce or two, and then she was UP and running around. Today I tried to give her the bottle again. She took a couple of sips and then had a complete meltdown: screaming, clawing at my shirt and trying to pull my boobs out. I felt awful. I hate withholding something from her that is so important to her. It's our special bond, and it's heartbreaking to have to end it. She eventually cried herself to sleep in my arms, and now she's napping peacefully. I'm hoping this episode won't be repeated too many times before she starts accepting the new routine. I hope she understands that just because I'm not nursing her to sleep, we can still snuggle together in the rocking chair and share the same closeness we've always had.

Does anyone who has been through this have any suggestions on making weaning easier? I want it to be as minimally traumatizing to us both as possible!


craftymommajess said...

Awwww...that has to be hard. I was planning to nurse my daughter until 1 year as well, but when I became pregnant, my supply dropped. She is on formula now (she'll be 10 months Saturday), but had only breastmilk for the first 9 months. I have to agree that the only time formula is convenient is when you are out and about. When she starts to fuss and is ready for a bottle, what a pain...LOL! The boob was MUCH more convenient. This will be me and my husband's last baby, so I plan to nurse until a year with the new baby =)

Free Range Chick said...

I want to leave you a 15 paragraph long comment, but I think that it will be easier to just talk about it at the zoo on Monday. Short story, I had all the same fears and struggles you just described and weaned Claire during spring break. So I can share with you what I went through in order to do it.