Sunday, January 13, 2013

Weaning is not the end of the world

Walt's first day home, stoned on milk
Walter is weaned! Since January 4, actually.  That morning we nursed for the last time.  Knowing it was the last time was not as sad as I imagined it would be.  Good latch, good kangaroo time, good hearty burp when he was done (accompanied by equally hearty giggles.)

After Walt's first birthday, I stopped pumping.  As soon as the frozen reserves were gone, he stopped getting bottles at day care.  We'd still nurse as soon as he got home from day care, right before bed, immediately after waking up and right before daycare (more when we traveled and on the weekends.) One day after daycare he asked for a cracker instead of asking to nurse, and that's when we knew it was time.

Even though Walter was technically weaned the last day he nursed, I feel like the weaning process just ended for me yesterday.  Yesterday is when all the lingering pain subsided, and also when the depression lifted.  We weaned so gradually, I thought I would be spared some of the worst physical and psychological effects.  And maybe it could have been worse.  But I was very much reminded of how hard it was when we first started nursing.  In fact, the last days felt very similar to the first days.  And I was amazed, once again, at how something so natural and wonderful could also be so painful and difficult.

And, ultimately, so worthwhile. All of it. Even the weaning. I used to worry about losing our snuggle time, but Walter is more snuggly and affectionate now than ever, and with Sean and me both.  I worried that he would be sad, especially at night. But he loves his new bedtime routine and I can tell he looks forward to each step: brushing his teeth, reading books in the glider, getting a drink of water, turning out the light, being held during the lullaby, lying down in his crib with his pillow, blanket and lamb.  He goes to bed more happily and sleeps better, now.  And every night there are moments almost too sweet to write down.

Almost.  But I have to try to capture it, because I know I'll want to remember, just like I want to remember what it was like when Walter would fall asleep in my arms after nursing, so totally relaxed.  Tonight, while I sang him his lullaby, Walter put his arm around my neck and held me close, just as close as I hold him.  When I put him down in his crib he stood up for another hug, and then another, along with a kiss.  "Mwah!" He was clearly stalling. But then he laid down on his own and snuggled up under his blanket.  "Goodnight, Walter!  I love you! Goodnight!"  A little cry after I left his room, but not very heartfelt.  Within minutes, fast asleep.

He'll probably wake up around 5:30 in the morning, driving us absolutely crazy and demanding crackers. =)


Arden Ashley said...

This made me cry so hard. I'm here in bed, clutching my snoogle and drenching it with tears. I've definitely heard that weaning can be surprisingly hard on the mom. A friend of mine nursed until her daughter was 3 (so definitely a gradual process) and was shocked at the emotional toll it took on her. I'm happy that Walt handled the transition so well and that you're coping as well. These darn hormones are making it so tough to read sweet posts like these.

Casey Kettle said...

Thank you for posting this. I'm trying to mentally and emotionally prepare for weening and it's nice to hear about a smooth transition for mom and baby! Thank you!

Pastor Annie said...

Hi, Casey! Thanks for your comment! I'm glad this post was helpful ... a few months after weaning, I still find myself grateful for this new stage in our family relationship. Walt and his dad are much closer now, and Walt is still sleeping better and heartily enjoying snuggle time with Mama. Weaning was rough on me (it HURT! and the depression was pretty deep at times ... no more constant influx of happy nursing hormones) but it was definitely the right move at the right time for our family. Blessings on this transition and all the hard/wonderful transitions to come! (I checked out your blog, btw ... it's beautiful! And what a sweet kiddo you have. I love reading stories from other moms and finding all these points in common ... and finding another James Taylor fan is nice, too. =).)