The Weaning Process: Part I
I started this in early November in hopes of chronicling this weaning journey. Here’s the progress so far.
Now that I’m 14 months into this breastfeeding journey with Forest I knew that at some point in time there would be a slow process of weaning. When he turned a year old I opted to drop from pumping four times a day to three. Now I am down to twice a day. This has taken a natural progression over the last two months in an uptake in Forest’s eating of solid food as well as stretching out his nursing sessions with me due to his increased activity around the house—‘No time for nursing Mom, got things to play with!’—and for the simple fact he doesn’t drink but maybe 8 ounces the entire time he’s at daycare. As I cannot donate my milk to a milk bank that has been pumped after Forest turned 13 months, there’s little use for me to continue having a huge stash of milk. I still have frozen milk from June and July and will likely need to donate more milk soon, especially since I’m really now just pumping enough milk for him to have at daycare versus pumping gobs of extra for a milk stash.
Pumping less has been just one part of the weaning process, the other part has included working on not nursing to sleep at the beginning of the night and during naps. That has only been able to happen in the last month, where we nurse for awhile and then I hand off a pacifier for him to use as he works to put himself to sleep.
I had hoped that this would be a magic trick, what would get my kid to sleep through the night. It’s what all the books/people/blogs say…or allude to. If your baby can go to sleep on his own they can learn to put themselves back to sleep through the night. They all make it sound like some kind of instantaneous wonder. And it’s patently not true. Maybe some some babies, but certainly not all. Charlatans, the lot! Hah! I did get a good week of semi-decent stretches of sleep from him but then he went back to his same old routine of waking up and wanting to nurse every two hours. Sometimes I can count on it like clock work…and frankly, I think my body even knows because I will wake up and then try to go back to sleep and *bam* Forest is awake.
I will definitely miss the nursing sessions, the cuddles, pulling him into bed in the middle of the night because I don’t feel like dealing with waiting for him to settle back in. Getting him cuddled up next to me to sleep for the rest of the night is sweet and cozy and I will most definitely miss waking up to that sweet face next to me in the morning.
But, I’m ready. I need my sleep back, my space back, my body back…at least for a good stretch at night.
So, I’ve found a gentle weaning ‘schedule’ to try. I’ve decided to try to chronicle the days as we go through them. I’m not looking forward to tired nights!
The process for these nights was to nurse as usual if he woke before 11 but after 11 to nurse only for a few minutes and then put back down awake, patting his back or any other soothing techniques to get back to sleep. In general this worked pretty good as all three nights, though he woke 2-3 times after 11, he stayed in his bed until 4:30-5:15 all of those nights. There were one or two nights of the late night/early morning wakeups that it was difficult to get him back to sleep after, sometimes taking 30 minutes of going in and out of the room and patting his back to settle him.
I’d say the first three nights were successful.
Nights 4-6: These nights involved the same situation as above for pre-11 pm wakeups but after 11pm I was supposed to pick up and comfort for a minute and then lay him back into the crib for him to settle down. I have given him his pacifier all nights after 11pm and the closer to midnight he awakes the easier it is for him to go back to sleep. The later night/earlier morning wakeups are much harder for him to resettle. I caved at night 5 and brought him to bed at 2:30 as I was pretty exhausted and not interested in dealing with it that nightth so he came to bed earlier than he has the last several nights. Two steps forward, one step back. That’s how it goes, I guess.
Nights 7-9: Oh boy, Momma fell off the wagon. This s*&$ is hard. About two days before I started this night weaning idea I started coming down with a case of vertigo. It persisted, and still continues to persist as I write this, so I opted to go to urgent care on day/night 3. When I went my blood pressure was extremely high, especially for me as I typically have a lower end of the spectrum reading. They sent me to the ER where I had a CT scan and blood work but was sent home with a “No idea what’s going on, but might be an upper respiratory infection presenting as vertigo and well, it’ll just wear off eventually.” So, the daytime part of the vertigo is mostly better unless I do something drastic in movement like bending down or looking up oddly, but nighttime is a different story. This has definitely played into my measley efforts the last several nights because I have zero interest in leaning over a crib to pat Forest back to sleep or to do any nighttime battles.
This is hard.
Nights…um, yeah. So, this effort has been thwarted by many things, including the vertigo, visitors, Forest not feeling well, cold weather.
Standby for Part II, hopefully next month!
Yikes, hope you’re feeling better now!!
Back in August, when Nora was over her jetlag from our trip to Europe, I was so desperately sleep-deprived that I decided we were done with night feedings. I thought it was going to be awful, but when she woke up and I didn’t go to her, she just fussed (not even crying) for less than thirty minutes, and that was it. She’s slept through the night ever since! (And of course now that I wrote those words, I probably jinxed everything she’s going to wake up five times tonight.)
At this point, she only nurses in the morning, before she goes to bed for the night, plus an insignificant amount before her nap (and once in a while she’ll ask for it during the day if she’s really tired). She seems less and less interested every day…it’s sad, but I try to tell myself that hey, if I’m not breastfeeding, at least I can take cold medicine if I get sick. 🙂
I’m so thankful you have been able to do this. You will always remember what a very special feeling it was. Such cherished memories with him.