Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Liam's Weaning Story

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile now, especially considering Liam has been weaned for 6 whole weeks! For a moment that seems like forever ago, and then it seems like it was just the other day. I have had a hard time articulating it; just putting into words all the feelings & emotions from both Liam & I. This was a big deal, a huge milestone, and I don't want it to simply pass us by. This post will surely be one my favorites to look back upon, challenging or not in putting the pen to paper, I'll just get to it. 

Liam did extremely well with night weaning, but I didn't expect full weaning to come so soon afterwards. I had heard that, for many women, night weaning was truly the beginning of the end, but I surely didn't think that would be the case for my Liam. I was quite wrong! Liam used to nurse frequently during the night, which is what kept my supply up. Once those nursing sessions were cut out, my production just tanked. Even though I became pregnant about the exact same time that Liam night weaned, my milk supply wouldn't have dropped off until the 2nd trimester. Mine was definitely the result of night weaning. It was a strange new territory to be in, but Liam & I adjusted fine. He continued to nurse in the morning, before nap, & before bedtime but only for a few minutes. Once he drank all my milk, we found other ways to settle down and go to sleep. I started to mentally prepare myself for the day Liam would no longer nurse. I imagined that he would eventually stop asking for it, and that suddenly I would realize that a day or two had passed and he hadn't nursed. I remember thinking how sad it would be not to know when the last time would be. So many emotions for a newly pregnant me! 

But one Thursday afternoon, with just a small beam of light shining through the blackout shades of Liam's nursery, I watched him nurse for the last time. There was simply no milk left for Liam, so I knew our breastfeeding relationship was quickly coming to end. I realized this a few minutes later; I felt it in my gut. It made my heart ache. I knew we were both ready and were very much making this decision together, but it was still incredibly sad to reach the end this part of our relationship. As he lay sleeping I shed many tears. I reflected on the past 2+ years of nursing my sweet boy every day. I texted Conor that I thought I had just nursed Liam for the last time, and at that, I knew it was final. I knew we were done. The single most bittersweet moment of my life. 

It's still somewhat bizarre to say. Most of the moms I see on a daily basis are all nursing their toddlers, so in a way Liam & I are now different. But things don't feel different. Our bond is still closer then ever! Whenever he would have nursed in the past, he now crawls on top of me and snuggles me with some of the strongest deepest snuggles. And every time he says "hi mommy" as if to just "check in" with me. Just the way he would have done when he still nursed. Although six weeks have passed, he still briefly asks for it once or twice about every other day. I remind him that I have no milk, and we can snuggle instead. This seems to quickly please him every time. I know that I am filling that void for him in other ways through our hugs and snuggles, which seems to have made the adjustment rather easy beyond the early emotions.
 
While I was completely open to the idea of tandem nursing, I'm actually happy to be ending this particular journey with Liam before embarking on a new one with our second baby next year. I'm still getting used to being done with nursing, but I know as each day passes it will be become our new normal. On the other hand, since I always nursed Liam on demand I now constantly worry about whether he has had enough to eat, and I feel the need to constantly be stocked with snacks when we are on the go. Before, I was confident that he was getting all his nutritional needs met through me and his small snacks and meals in-between, while now I have to be more on top of his diet and eating schedule. By far, the hardest part is not being able to comfort him the way I used to. If he was hurt or completely upset, I could always calm him down immediately by offering to nurse. Now it is not so simple. A couple weeks ago, he fell off a playground structure and bit his bottom lip pretty badly. There was a lot of blood and I knew he was terrified and in pain. I seriously considered nursing him right then even though it had been weeks since we stopped. It took all my strength to rock him and sing to him and trust that we can connect in other ways to bring calm to the situation. I am his mama, and I know I am capable of soothing him through anything. 

I cannot explain the joy of breastfeeding a child into the toddler years! It was not necessarily something I planned for, but I am so thankful for the experience. At La Leche League we frequently talk about "mothering at the breast" and how the foundation of your relationship begins there. This has been completely true for Liam & I. Our extended breastfeeding relationship has completely shaped the type of mother I am. It laid the foundation for me to be patient, empathetic, & gentle. All qualities I strive for everyday as Liam's mom. So while this journey has ended, the mother I have become will continue on. As will that tight knit bond that Liam & I will always nurture and share with one another. From one of the first times...

 

...to one of the last. 


11 comments :

  1. Beautiful!!!!! I had some of the same emotions when Lily nursed for the last time. I'm so very much looking forward to a new chapter of nursing with the next baby. Up until a month ago, Lily would still ask to nurse occasionally, just for the snuggling & play purposes. (and each time, even though I wanted so badly to give in, we both remained strong) You're right, the snuggling, hugs, and cuddles are so much deeper and more meaningful now. I'm sure some of it has to do with age, but a greater part has to do with the bond that has been created via nursing. Love it! Bravo mama!

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  2. God you about had me in tears! Such a sweet and genuine post. I can't imagine what it is like to have such a strong bond with your child and I hope to one day be able to experience this. Proud of you both for this huge milestone! Onto the next! ;-) beautiful post!

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  3. Laura, you continue to do such a great job with Liam. This is beautiful.

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    1. Thank you Jenn! The support I have received today has been overwhelming!

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  4. That has to be tough but just think- as long as everything goes like it did with him, you'll be starting with a new babe before you know it! You clearly got the routine workin' for ya! :) I'll come to you with questions!

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  5. Tears. I have tears. This was beautiful. I nursed my son for 14 months and was beyond emotional when he weaned. My daughter, 17 months, is still nursing three times a day and we have no plans of weaning quite yet. You totally put into words how I felt/feel with both of my children. It's an emotional journey. Bittersweet. Congrats on raising a sweet little guy and congrats on your new little one! -Marie :)

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    1. It so wonderful to hear from other moms who have gone through a similar experience! Enjoy continuing to wean into the toddler years, it is such an incredible experience! :-) Thanks for your sweet words!

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  6. I just stumbled upon your blog through "Cheers, Y'all." OMG...this post warms my heart. I have a 7 month old blonde haired blue eyed boy similar to your sweet Liam. I never knew how much I would love nursing him and I am looking forward to nursing him into toddlerhood if we are lucky enough for that to happen. I am already sad thinking of the day that it will end for good. But I love your post and how you thank your breastfeeding relationship for helping to shape you as a mother. So much truth! Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Thank you for your sweet words! I always loved breastfeeding, but the toddler years were even more special in such a unique way. Not many women get to experience that. I hope you get to nurse as long as you and your son wish!

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  7. You wrote it beautifully. I loved breastfeeding and it was definitely emotionally packed when Aria weened. Bittersweet. She was never much of a cuddler after that until just recently actually. So I really missed those snuggles for a long time, that is very sweet that you guys will cuddle in place of the nursing now.

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  8. I finally got to this post and it's got me in tears as I am here starting the journey over again, and at moments questioning it all. You've put your experience into words so beautifully, and it's inspirational really!! I needed this today, so thank you for sharing. :)

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