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Breastfeeding Blog Hop: Weaning

Breastfeeeding Blog Hop

This post is part of the weekly breastfeeding blog hop, hosted by The Slacker Mom, and co-hosted by The Gnome’s Mom and Happiness Redefined. This week’s topic is Weaning.

This week’s topic comes at the perfect time for me. I’ve been gently weaning Abby since I night weaned her, and now we’re down to nursing at naps, before bed, and maybe once a day if she really needs the snuggles. When I first found out I was pregnant, I wanted to try for tandem nursing. I really wanted to keep the bond with Abby, and I was hoping that by nursing I would be helping her get the nutrients she needed even when she didn’t eat much. 

I kept from weaning her, even at night, until she was 12 months old. Considering the fact that I got pregnant when she was about 9 months old, I’m very proud that we lasted so long. But after she turned a year old, all bets were off when it came to night weaning. 

For a few weeks, I let her nurse whenever she wanted during the day. But the reality was that she was still nursing too much for me to handle well. So I gradually cut back her daytime feedings. The last one to go was our morning nursing session, and honestly it’s nice to just snuggle with Abby in the morning.

There’s a big part of me that doesn’t want to finish weaning her. She nurses for maybe 5 minutes at naptimes and maybe a little more before bed. It’s not that bad. But I also know that the longer I put this off, the harder it will be on both me and my little Squishy. It’s not the nutrients or the calories I’m worried about anymore (after all, I’m definitely gaining weight now that I’ve mostly weaned Abby), but I am worried about how I’ll react in a month or two. With my hormones raging and other issues that I’ve been dealing with lately, I’d hate to keep breastfeeding Abby to prove a point and get to the place where I don’t want to breastfeed Squishy at all.

This possibility is what keeps me going with this weaning thing. And honestly? I’m so glad I have pictures like this to remind me of our special times together, especially as they’re coming to an end.

Remembering...

 

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The Night I Cracked: A Tale of Night Weaning

I wasn’t planning on night weaning when I did. I had decided to try it, start it, and just never stuck to it. I really wanted to do Dr. Jay Gordon’s method, but I was having trouble sticking to it. I wouldn’t wake up enough to put her back to sleep awake and ended up nursing instead. The crying was too much, and I felt so guilty for keeping my hard-working husband up at night. I couldn’t bear the thought of my daughter crying so much…and us all losing so much sleep.

And then I cracked. Last Wednesday night/Thursday morning, she woke up. I was not in the mood to deal with her in bed with me for the rest of the night. I’ve been needing my space more and more lately, and I snapped. Not only was she going to night wean, she was getting out of our bed, too. I put her in the crib we have beside our bed…that she never slept in. Not well, anyway. And not all night, either. That made her mad. Especially when Mama wasn’t letting her in bed with her and making her stay in the crib. Like I said, this wasn’t well thought out. She cried, screamed, and wailed on and off for about 2-3 hours before falling asleep with my hand against her head. She woke up at 6:30 the next morning, after the 7 hours that I had set aside for the no-nursing rule, and nursed to sleep. We both got some much-needed rest, and I wondered if what I was doing was working at all.

The next night, she woke up again. And it was almost 2 hours before her Daddy realized that she had a dirty diaper that needed changing!! I felt awful, but she was asleep again withing 30 minutes. This time, she slept until around 6:30 again…and immediately wanted to get in bed and nurse to sleep. Again, I let her, wondering if we would ever have a full night of sleep again!

Friday night, she slept. Until 4 AM! I had slept enough that I was easily able to handle her. I picked her up and held her while bouncing her to sleep. It worked perfectly! Within 15 minutes, I was back asleep in my bed. She didn’t wake up again until 8! Both my husband and I woke up sore, not having slept that long without waking up in months.

I thought for sure that it wasn’t over, but the past 2 nights have been the same. She’ll wake up for a few minutes, I’ll pat her back, and she’s off to sleep again. But now? I’m the one staying up at night. Honestly, I think I’ve gotten so used to waking up with her that I don’t know what to do with myself after sleeping for so long! I’m so thankful that I snapped, that I stuck to my guns, because I’m finally getting what this pregnant mama needs: some sleep!

Have you tried night weaning? What worked or didn’t work for you?

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Night Weaning… Closing the All Night Buffet

We’re linking up with the Breastfeeding Blog Hop again! We’re joining Life with Levi, The Slacker Mom, and Diary of a Devil Dog Wife this week to talk about night weaning.

 

I wish that I had some great wisdom on this topic. I’m currently breastfeeding my fourth nursling, so the assumption could be that I’ve gone through this several times, and know what there is to know about it. It hasn’t really worked out that way, though. My first was weaned entirely, all at the same time. My second daughter self-weaned, with some light boundaries put in place by me. Night time was one of the last to go, but it went slowly on its own, with no help from me. My fourth is eight months, and still nurses frequently at night. I would like to start decreasing our night time sessions, but I’m not taking any active steps yet.

But then there’s my third. The one child who I’ve night weaned.

Fair warning, this isn’t an encouraging “how to” post. It’s more of a “We’ve been through the fire, but we’re still here,” post. Want to keep reading?

Last summer my third born was almost two. He had always loved to nurse. And nurse.  And nurse. And at night, his favorite thing to do was… nurse. We co-slept, so it wasn’t a huge issue, but as he entered toddlerhood he went from being a rough sleeper to a terrible sleeper. He would wake up crying about mysterious complaints, and end up hysterical. So even though he had free reign  of the good stuff at night, he still wasn’t always pacified by nursing. In addition to that, he loved having an all night buffet, and would stay attached most of the night.

Then I started having horrific pain while nursing… “I’m-going-to-bite-my-lip-to-keep-from-screaming” painful. Thrush had decided to pay me my first visit! Nursing at night made me want to scream. Not nursing at night made my son scream. So I normally gritted my teeth and bore it, but I was getting exhausted, frustrated, and feeling resentful.

And then I found out I was pregnant! Suddenly it made sense. There was more to my pain than just thrush. And the pregnancy had increased the likelihood of me getting thrush in the first place.

But meanwhile, I was rapidly burning out. Before the thrush and pregnancy, I could nurse my son mostly in my sleep. Now I spent the time curled up wanting to cry. Unfortunately, no matter what I tried, if my son woke up or started looking for the breast in his sleep, he would go into a screaming meltdown. I tried walking. Rocking. Singing. Offering water. Snacks. All were met by screams.

Finally, I decided I just could not keep going the way things were. I had been exhausted before the pregnancy. Now I needed rest more than ever. Because of the way my son responded to attempts to distract him, I didn’t feel like there was any way to gradually cut back on our night time sessions. So we went cold turkey: no nursing from our “nurse to sleep” nursing session until daylight the next morning.

It was unspeakably hard. When we started the process, he woke up several times every night, without fail. He would scream (and I do mean scream) for anywhere from 10 min to close to an hour. He never cried alone. I was always right there, holding him and loving on him, just no nursing. My husband took several “shifts” as well.

Slowly but surely, over the course of a few months, the time between wakings grew shorter, and the screaming lasted for less time as well.

The all night buffet was officially closed.

I wish I could say that solved all our sleep issues, but it didn’t. As I mentioned in my post on infant sleep here, my son continues to be a bad sleeper, and he frequently wakes at night. I still feel night weaning when we did was the right decision for our family, for a variety of reasons, but I regret how traumatic it was for all of us. I’m already trying to work towards making it easier on my fourth child, by doing things like introducing and encouraging a “lovey”. I’m looking forward to reading all the posts for the breastffeeding blog hop this week, and I would love if you would share your thoughts below!

Do you have any suggestion for easing the night weaning process? Have you had to night wean, and how did it go? Did your child sleep through the night afterwards?

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