The universe has a funny, and sometimes almost cruel sense of humor. Yesterday, I posted about my love/hate relationship with breastfeeding. Today, I woke up and realized that Hailey may have already started the weaning process.
In my ideal world, breastfeeding would end around the 1 year mark as I return to work. I’ve been told that babies don’t wean themselves during the first year. I’ve talked to mothers who have actively weaned their babies and mothers who said not to worry about it, baby would wean herself. Upon further dialogue with the mothers of those self-weaned babies, their babies weaned themselves after 2 plus years. The idea that I may be breastfeeding Hailey until she is 2 or 3 years old is an absolutely TERRIFYING possibility.
For the last month or so I’ve been wondering how to wean my baby in preparation to go back to work. In doing so, I have also been hoping that she would wean herself just in time for me to go back to work making for a smooth transition. That’s still 4 months away. I have plenty of time left to enjoy breastfeeding.
It never occurred to me until today that it could happen much sooner. It never occurred to me that she had already started.
I decided to Google signs that my baby was self-weaning and found several moms who had similar experiences to what I am going through. My eyes immediately welled up and I felt a wave of grief wash through me. Why was I getting so emotional? Isn’t this what I wanted?
There was plenty of other information on Google to suggest that weaning before the 1 year mark is highly unlikely. But the great part is that we get to chose who we listen to. And today I was looking for confirmation that my baby is venturing down the weaning path rather than confirmation that I was being ridiculous even contemplating this possibility. We can always find “evidence” supporting our position. That’s why Google can be a dangerous place if we’re not in the right frame of mind.
Here is what I am experiencing with respect to nursing Hailey.
- She no longer nurses herself to sleep at night. This stopped about a month ago. She now puts herself to sleep. She will do a short feeding before bed. Alternative possibility: she just ate dinner with us and is full from that.
- Mid-day (lunch time-ish) feedings are extremely short. I’m pretty sure she’s just thirsty they are so short. But again, she eats a real lunch.
- The first feeding in the morning is now only a couple of minutes. This used to be our longest nursing of the day. She was starving after sleeping and mama had lots of milk. Alternative possibility: she knows I’m going to feed her some breakfast about a half hour or so after getting up and she’d rather do that. She used to do both.
- When we do nurse, distractions are constant. She seems to want it but only latches for a 20-30 seconds at a time before coming off. When re-directed back she’ll nurse for 20 seconds or so and then she’s off again.
- Our best feedings of the day are mid-afternoon, around 3 or 4pm and if she wakes up during the night.
She is consuming more solids and that is likely the reason she isn’t as hungry for breast milk. It just seems like she is phasing me out. It hurts.
It led me down a negative thought spiral this morning: This isn’t supposed to happen this early. Why is this happening? Is she not getting enough from me? Should I pump and give her a bottle? I’m told this isn’t normal. Should I be worried? Is she getting enough nutrients? Soon she’s not going to need me anymore. I’m not ready for this. I like that she needs me. I like that she relies on me. Will we be as close when the nursing ends? Am I doing something wrong? I feel like I’m losing a part of me. I like breastfeeding. Please need me still. I feel so rejected.
Wow….I was blindsided by this shame spiral this morning. It came out of nowhere.
Now here is my attempt at re-framing this because I don’t want to feel bad.
It hurts. But I don’t want it to hurt. It’s going to happen eventually. It’s a good thing. It’s natural. I feel rejected. This feeling has everything to do with me and nothing to do with Hailey. She is not doing this to hurt me. She is doing it because she no longer needs to nurse as much. She is growing up. She is learning to be independent. Hailey is eating more solids than she used to. She loves trying new foods and meal times are fun. I enjoy our meal times together. I feel close to her when she nurses. I’m still getting to nurse her a bit and I enjoy that. She still needs me. Even when she doesn’t want me for milk she still wants me to hold her. She still loves me. I know that she will still love me when nursing is over for good. I’m proud of her for wanting to be so independent. I love her more for it. It’s a good thing that she doesn’t need me. She is learning to do things on her own. I’m so proud of her. And I know she still wants me in her life. I know she still loves me. It’s not the end of the world.