March 23, 2016

Catching Up - Weaning James

I realized that a few things happened within the last year that were pretty big... and I didn't have a spare moment to write them down. As we get closer to James' third birthday, I'm reminded yet again how much this chronicle of our life means to me, and since I have a spare moment now... I better jump on it.

Weaning
Our breastfeeding journey came to an end rather quietly. Looking back, James and I had such a great nursing bond. I remember that he latched perfectly right away after birth (and all the drama surrounding his birth). The first night we had together (he was born around 5AM) was spent in our hospital room while I received a blood transfusion. We had a wonderful nurse with us most of the night to monitor the transfusion and she was kind enough to help with James' feedings. Things went pretty smoothly, but I did have uncertainty regarding how to best position him. That got better with time, practice, and observing other nursing mamas (thank you to my birth center tribe!). I do remember meeting with our amazing lactation consultant after we were discharged from the hospital and my milk had come in - she asked how nursing was going, and the honest answer was: Great! She said she was super glad that was the case, particularly after such a rough delivery. (This makes way more sense to me now after some of the difficulties Thomas and I had at the beginning.)

James and I nursed exclusively for the first 6 months, and then did a combination of baby-led weaning and purees to introduce him to food, along with breastmilk. I did have to supplement my milk for a short time (about a month and a half or so) with formula right before he turned one. When James turned one, we did transition him to cow's milk at daycare, and I stopped pumping at work (yay!) but we continued nursing on demand when we were together. It was so nice to not have to worry about my supply as his sole nutrition anymore, but to just enjoy our time together.

I thought lazily/briefly about weaning him from nursing at age one... but I wasn't ready. I didn't really have a need to do so, and I knew all the benefits of nursing until at least age two. I considered it again briefly around 16-17 months, but a mom friend of mine mentioned how thankful she was to have still been nursing her daughter when her 18-24 mo molars came in. She had been inconsolable and didn't want to eat anything for a few days, so nursing was such a life saver and comfort to both of them. That sounded pretty great to me... so we just let it ride. I wasn't in a hurry to quit the one thing that was so great, without fail, on so many levels. Plus: engorgement. Ow.

When James turned two, I knew we were getting close to the end. I was about 2 months pregnant and starting to feel uncomfortable when James was nursing. I still wasn't sure HOW to wean, and hoped I could either figure something out... or something would just happen. Still lazy, I think. I blame first trimester.

For Memorial Day weekend, we decided to drive out to Texas to visit my grandparents. It was about a 5.5 hour drive one way, and we had a lot of fun during our visit. Between the drive, all the activities and being tuckered out in a new place... we didn't nurse. We just didn't even think about it. And like that... it was over. No drama. No tears. No pain. When we came home, we just moved forward into our lives without nursing. Such a momentous moment, to happen so quietly.

I kind of marveled at it. He was so big, and was ready to move on right when he needed to. The stress and worry I had at "when" to wean and how and all of that was completely unnecessary, because it was just the right time. Of course it was. How could I have worried about that?

Just another example of how I'm not just teaching James. He's teaching me, too. Day after day. I didn't know how to be a mama before him. I didn't know how to balance worry with strength, or fear with faith, or being completely clueless with positivity and resolution. He's been teaching me this since the day he was born. And this quiet weaning, this surprising ending that honestly - had nothing to do with me - was one more incredible lesson. To have trust. To honor what my kiddo needs, and what I need over what "they" think we should be doing. To have confidence in us.

It's crazy how big James is now. He is all lanky limbs - impossible to fit neatly in my lap anymore. He has to find new angles and ways to fit. But for so long, he was curved around me in just the right way. My milky nursling, my chubby baby, my cheerful toddler, my exuberant boy. So thankful for the journey we shared together to provide him the nourishment he needed from every possible meaning of the word.

It wasn't just food for us (though goodness knows it was incredible to watch him plump up... all from milk that *I* made for him). It was... Love. Comfort. Reassurance. Calm. Support. Safety. Pain relief. Stress relief. Quiet. Contentment. Warmth. Cozy. Succor. For both of us.

Nurse on, mamas.

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