I always knew I would share my thoughts on weaning, long before I actually planned on doing so. In my head this post would be about how hard it is not to have that closeness anymore with my daughter, and how much I miss nursing her. As it turns out, that’s not how it actually is at all.
Because I nursed my daughter until she was over two and a half years old, snuggling became a very easy substitute for nursing. Just as we used to nurse first thing in the morning (in the end there, we were down to one session a day), now we still like to cuddle on the couch while watching a show to start our day; it gives us a chance to connect – and me, a night owl, to wake up. As the days go by she asks less and less to nurse, but in the beginning when the requests were more frequent and her reaction more intense, being able to use words with her to explain why we no longer nurse or to offer a substitute was very helpful. Now, she can watch her aunt nurse her two-week-old cousin and see that it’s something that babies do; she’s the big girl now. This process hasn’t been perfect or flawless, but I do believe having her of an age where she can comprehend what I’m saying has been more helpful than harmful.
The first two weeks were tough for me emotionally, just as the first two weeks after giving birth were, with hormones fluctuating and readjusting. While I thought I’d be crying over not nursing, I found myself instead crying over random things. My temper was shorter and I had less patience. I tried to be gentle with myself because I was aware of what was going on and why, but it was tough. It was hard, too, to see my daughter upset because I had taken something from her that brought her comfort, so trying to maintain my composure was even more important so that I could be there for her while I tried to offer a substitute in a different kind of attention from me.
But the hardest part of weaning on the both of us, I believe, was on our bodies. It screwed up my periods, as I expected, but I’ve also been sick…nearly constantly…since weaning. I know I can’t go and blame my various illnesses entirely on the weaning process (I’m a dope and forgot my flu shot this year…helloooooo), but I’m willing to bet it has something to do with it; I’d been pretty healthy throughout the entire time I breastfed, except for several nursing-related complications. Since I’ve weaned I’ve gotten the flu, a sinus infection, and the stomach bug, twice. Hopefully my body finds its balance again soon.
Weaning has affected my daughter’s body as well – pooping has become a different experience for her. Anyone who has breastfed knows what the poop is like; loose and seedy. As we introduced solids, her poop became more solid as well, but not like an adult’s still with all the breast milk also in her system. Now, without any breast milk, pooping has become painful. I’d have to hold the poor kiddo as she pooped and cried that she had a boo boo in her pants. We introduced some prunes during the transition and in the past week, we’ve noticed a difference; she hasn’t needed the prunes, nor has she complained about pooping.
The truth is, I met my breastfeeding goals, and exceeded them, and then some. So while I expected to be mournful about weaning, I’m instead proud of how long we nursed. I went into this with no expectations for how long we’d last and I never imagined I’d be nursing a toddler, but I’m glad it happened the way it did. Nursing into toddlerhood isn’t right for everyone, but it ended up being right for us, by keeping an open mind and taking cues from our bodies and relationship. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also one of the accomplishments I’m most proud of.