Oddly Normal: a Big Breastfeeding Update

As I wake up in Vegas this morning, on a weekend away with my girlfriends... my first time being away from Gwen for multiple nights, Trav's first time doing nights by himself... I wanted to share a post that I wrote for another blog, Child of the Nature Isle, back in May (called Oddly Normal: Breastfeeding my Toddler), and at the end, some updates about where Gwen and I are with nursing now.


Right now there is a children's book on weaning sitting on my coffee table. If you had told me, 2 years ago, that this is where we would be today, I'd have called you crazy!

At the beginning, breastfeeding was lovely and exhausting. It was an amazing thing to be able to feed my daughter from my own body, as women have been doing for thousands of years. I loved the closeness, but for something so natural, damn, could it be difficult! At first she only wanted one boob, once we got that sorted out, she still had problems with latching onto the other breast when she was tired or overly hungry, which led to engorgement, which really hurt. Then there was being the sole source of food and the most desired form of comfort. At that point my goal was 6 months.

I was back to work at 12 weeks, jumping into the world of pumping. A world I wouldn't be done with until just under 2 years later! (I pumped until a week before Gwen's 2nd birthday, when we dropped her last daytime sippy of milk.) Pumping was a pain, but it got us to my goal of breastmilk only to drink for 6-months, breastmilk and occasionally sippies of water through a year.

We had a blip at 4 months in when Gwen's weight started following her own curve... which at the time seemed like a dip, but really was just my skinny minny gaining the way she was going to gain for the next two years. It was a bit of a blow though. It got easier for a while, then right before 6 months, it got harder again, I was worried about my supply. But we made it. New goal, a year.

Well, one milk blister, 2 bouts of mastitis, a handful of clogged ducts, hundreds of night wakings, hundreds of hours attached to a pump, and thousands of hours with at least one of my boobs hanging out... and a year was done! I had no more goals, but that didn't mean I wanted to stop either. As long as it was a mutually beneficial thing, I planned to keep nursing.

After a year, I thought about night weaning a lot, but it was just never the right time. I didn't want to force Gwen, and I tried once, only to back off when she clearly wasn't ready. Then, around a year and a half, she night weaned, practically on her own! She naturally outgrew the night time feedings, and slept longer and longer between wakes. Once we were down to just the occasional night nursing, it was easy enough to talk to her about the fact that milkie was tired, that we would say night-night to milkie at bedtime, and that she could have more milkie in the morning. One night of tears, two or three more nights of asking about it but no crying, and we were done.

That experience, along with others involving her "learning to sleep" or with eating led me to figure out what seems pretty obvious now... if I note Gwen's cues, if I let her take the lead a bit, then making these changes are easy. I thought at that point that I would do completely child-led weaning.

Now here we are, at 27 months and still chugging along with our two sessions a day. We nurse in the morning, and we nurse before bed (plus before nap on the weekends). At 2 years I thought I was ready to start working towards a VERY gentle encouragement of complete weaning. I'm going away in October with some of my girlfriends to celebrate one of their 30th birthdays, and I though that it would be a little bit easier with just daddy for two nights if she wasn't wanting that nursing. Plus, I really don't want to pack a pump! I realize though what I really want is to just be able to get rid of that morning session (hence the weaning book, now sitting on my coffee table). It leaves me feeling cranky and touched out, and that is the only session that could pose a problem for daddy. But I don't want to stop nursing completely! I don't.

Others might not understand it, but with all the times that I feel like yelling, "Stop! Slow down! Its all going too fast!" ... breastfeeding gives us our quiet moments together. Moments when we do both stop, slow down, and just enjoy being together in the moment. Gwen comforted, calmed by my closeness, and nourished. Me calmed by the rhythm of her breathing. Breastfeeding is something only I can give Gwen, and that only we share. We'll have other mama/daughter things as she gets older, but for now, this is only ours. That doesn't change because she's 2 now.

I've been blessed, since the very beginning, to be around people who support me. They might not "get it," but they still believe in my right to do it! And do it, we did. At home, in the car, at friends', in Star.bucks, at my grandfather's memorial, at the doctor's, at the park, etc! And the naysayers... well, I just keep a few handy facts about breastfeeding in the back of my mind (we're lowering both our risks of cancers! she is still getting great nutrients from it!), remind them that this is only considered "extended" breastfeeding in the US, and ask them how many college students they've actually met who still nurse (or for that matter, how many teenage boys they've met who want to acknowledge that their mom even has breasts!). The first two quiet most people, but the last one definitely stops the extra pushy ones! LOL.

Looking back at the times that it was so hard (HERE, HERE, and HERE), I never would have pictured us where we are now. Over two years in, and so easy. We'll see what ends up happening, because I really do want this to be a joint decision and not something that I take away from her. No matter what though, I'm going to relish every last second of this wonderful bond. She still loves it so so much! And so do I.


That was my May post, and here's my October update...

At 32 months we are still nursing 2x a day! Naps are basically no more on the weekends (except in the car), so that session fell away naturally, but the others, while shorter, are still there. The thing is, I'm more okay with that now, then I was back in May!

Here's what has changed:
Gwen is in such a daddy phase right now, I'm relishing every single second that she chooses to lay sweetly next to me, the times when she actually needs and wants ME.

She started sleeping in a bit later, so I'm not losing as much sleep for that morning session! Plus, she now periodically sleeps in after I get up to get showered for work... and she's okay without the milk those mornings. This wasn't happening back in May, so this is a great development.

Similarly, she has since done a few bedtimes with Daddy (and one with my mom) where she didn't need or request milkie to be able to fall asleep. Yay!

Overall, I'm really happy with where we are. I don't know what the future holds for our breastfeeding relationship, but I'm more content then ever with the idea of just "seeing where it goes." 

For those of you looking for more information on weaning, kellymom is always a great resource!

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