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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No more milkies

Yesterday was a big day for Mira: It was the first day ever that she went all day without milkies.

When Mira was born, I knew that I wanted to try my very hardest to breastfeed. It's the cheapest and healthiest option, plus it helps with mother-child bonding, so it just made sense to me. I was so happy that Mira and I had such an easy time of it. She latched well and, aside from the normal adjustment period where the nipples are toughening up, it felt very natural and good to me. In short, we were very lucky, as I know there are many women who have to struggle with it.

So once it was clear that Mira and I were compatible as far as nursing and things were going well, I naturally began to think about how long I would continue to nurse her. The AAP recommends at least 12 months, and the WHO recommends 2 years. So I originally thought we'd shoot for 2 years or more, and then let Mira decide when she was done. But the time when my thoughts were in that place seems like a long time ago... Three big things ultimately changed my mind.

Thing 1: Mira rejected the bottle early on, so she's always been fed either solids or breastmilk directly from the source. That's actually quite hard on me because it means that I'm The Only One who can give her milk. And before she started solids, I was the only one who could feed her At All. Period. That made things rather challenging for me. Consider that, with nursing being part of the bedtime routine, I have never been able to be anywhere but by Mira's side next to her bed around 8pm. For the past 15+ months, I have always been in that place at that time, no matter what else is scheduled, no matter what activities I'm missing out on, No Matter What. It's hard to never get a break from that.

Thing 2: (And this is probably the biggest reason.) Brian and I have been trying to have another baby since November, with no luck. (If you've not been following, you can read about it here,here, here, and here.) I last saw my OB about this in December, when I was still nursing Mira 4 times a day, and he thought that my infertility was due to the breastfeeding. So promptly after discovering that news in December, Mira and I dropped down to nursing only twice a day: before nap and before bed. Then in February, we dropped the naptime nursing, so we were down to only once a day at bedtime. In those months, Brian and I continued to try to conceive, with no success, and my cycles remained off schedule, which they have been ever since November when I skipped a period. (Prior to that I have always been very regular.) So I was producing very little milk, if any (see below), and my periods were continuing to be consistently late, so I was beginning to suspect that my OB was wrong and breastfeeding is not the root of the problem. But despite my growing concerns, I'd decided to go ahead and wean completely to see what it'd do to my cycles and whether it would effect my fertility. Plus, if I'd weaned completely before expressing my concerns to my OB again, then I couldn't be given the same explanations.

Thing 3: Mira is actually not resisting the weaning. Dropping down to one feeding a day was completely painless: as long as I gave Mira plenty of solids to satisfy her hunger, she was a happy camper. Yesterday was the first night with no milkies; we read 2 bedtime stories and rocked and sang 3 lullabies and then I laid her in her crib. At one point during the rocking, she tried to move down into position to nurse, but I just pushed her head back up on my shoulder and she gave up easily with no fuss. She went down without a peep yesterday. Today, she's having some trouble getting to sleep, but I am doubtful that it is due to the weaning because of the way she is acting. (She didn't try to get into nursing position at all today, and she's acting like she's teething.) I think that one reason that she's ready to wean is that I lost my milk a long time ago. About a month after dropping to only one nursing a day, I began to suspect that I was losing my milk. Mira's been suckling anyway at bedtime, but I think my milk has been dry for several weeks now due to infrequency of nursing. So I've basically just been a giant pacifier for quite a while now.

Despite having my reasons, I have found the weaning to be very bittersweet. I'm glad it's going over so easily with Mira, and I'm glad that she's growing up and entering new phases of life. But there's also a big part of me that feels like I'm losing my baby. But then, I guess that's what parenthood is: incremental, progressive steps toward losing your baby. .... That sounded very fatalistic, didn't it? Probably due to withdrawal from all the good happy hormones released during nursing. :-/

So anyway, there you have it. I'm determined to see it through. No caving in if she throws a fit. Just stopping, cold turkey. But honestly, I don't see her wanting to go back to it. I think she was going along with it more for my benefit and out of habit than anything else. Thus probably forebodes the beginning of a long-running trend: me trying to eek out a little more youth, her tolerating it, until I finally realize it's time to let go.

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