My Breastfeeding Journey
My breastfeeding journey with my second child lasted 19 months. And for that, I am grateful. After getting a bad cold, we had regressed significantly as she was asking to nurse almost all day, not wanting to eat her solid foods with me, and needing my breast in her mouth for naps and almost all night long. I was starting to feel very trapped and frustrated in not being able to be productive throughout my day.
I knew I was enabling these behaviors by giving in and giving her my boob, then I would immediately get angry at myself for giving in. It was an endless cycle that was ultimately doing more harm to my mental health than good. I knew it was time. I mentally prepared myself and cried A LOT. She is more than likely going to be our last child, so I was really sad for our last “baby” phase to end.
My breastfeeding journey with my first child lasted 10 weeks (which was primarily pumped breast milk) until he began Alimentum formula for his milk protein allergy. Everything went wrong with my first breastfeeding experience–from mastitis to thrush to clogged ducts to raw nipples due to poor/painful latch due to tongue/lip tie to milk protein allergy. You name it, I got it. I wanted to breastfeed so bad. As soon as my son became a happy baby with the Alimentum formula, though, I didn’t look back.
For my second breastfeeding experience, nothing went wrong and it just came so easy.
I was so thankful for that. My goal was to breastfeed for two months until she received her 2-month vaccines. Then I was furloughed, and then we ended up doing 19 months. It was a blessing and a beautiful journey. The truth is, weaning her petrified me. I didn’t know how I was going to be her mama without nursing her. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to put her to sleep. And I didn’t know how I was going to be able to soothe her…..WITHOUT MY BOOB.
I wish I would have said Silenzio Bruno to all of those negative thoughts in my head much sooner.
(Disclaimer: must watch Disney’s Luca one million times in order to start relating their phrases to your daily life.)
How did I do it?
When I finally found the courage to take action and face my fear, I consistently told my 19-month-old with confidence, over and over again… “Mama is here, Mama is not going anywhere, Mama loves you, Mama can give you hugs and kisses, but Mama can’t give you boob, Mama has a boo-boo.” My friend, who also weaned her daughter cold turkey as a toddler, shared her success story with me of putting bandaids on her breasts.
I do have to say that giving her this visual cue that I have a boo-boo, and that’s why I had bandaids on, she IMMEDIATELY understood 100%. Instead of asking me for “boob” all day, she was saying “Mama yai yaiii” (which means boo-boo in Spanish). She would even give me a kiss to make sure that I would feel better. IT WAS A GENIUS IDEA! And I am here to share this genius idea with all of you who are possibly going through a similar weaning journey.
My daughter refuses pacifiers and bottles so that just made weaning a little bit more challenging for me. I reached out to a local lactation service for professional support because I was so petrified to stop breastfeeding. They were so supportive, empathic, and informative. They ensured me that at 19 months, I did not have to be concerned about her refusing milk via bottle/sippy cup/open cup so long that I provide dairy in other forms (i.e. yogurt, cheese) and fatty nutrients (i.e. avocado, olive oil, etc).
My daughter taught me that children are much more resilient than we think they are.
It takes a Village
I couldn’t have done this alone. It truly does take a village. And I love my village.
My loving husband has made this entire weaning process so much smoother for me. I am forever grateful for him. A couple of months back, he weaned Jovi at night for 2 months, which means he was sleep training her in her crib and waking up at night to put her back to sleep. I was still breastfeeding during the day, but limiting it to 3 times a day (in the morning, for nap, and to go to bed at night). This was pretty consistent until it wasn’t, and it was unfair for my husband to struggle to put her back to sleep when I was still letting her nurse during the day. We began co-sleeping again while we were on vacation, and then, we were back to square one.
The truth is… as much as I enjoyed sharing something special with her that no one else was able to experience, I was beginning to feel physically handicapped because of the constant need to “nurse,” which meant I was her human pacifier. And the guilt was breaking my heart.
From one day to the next, I decided that I was done and had to stop breastfeeding cold turkey.
My sister-in-law kindly offered to take her for the day, so that she could be distracted by my niece. And it worked! She was so worn out, that she ended up knocking out at her house since she didn’t nap during the day. A good 12 hours away from me was the perfect amount of time. I felt like although that first day being away from me may have been traumatic for her (since she had never slept out of the house before), it helped her understand that Mommy can still be around me even though she has a boo-boo.
My amazing husband took her to the beach during the day. I was able to put her to sleep without nursing her the following days while my amazing husband would take her to the beach during the day. I had feared that weaning was going to mean having to go a minimum of 3 days without seeing her. But I am glad that I didn’t have to go through that.
I know that everyone has a different weaning experience. But this is MY weaning experience. I am sharing it because IF I CAN FACE MY FEAR… SO CAN YOU!
Did you breastfeed past infancy? You’re in good company! Check out this open letter from another MMC contributor who is extremely proud of her journey.