Weaning Eloise at Age One

>> Friday, June 2, 2017

Well, here we are. Just 13 days shy of Eloise's first birthday. We made it. And what a year it has been! I still very vividly remember going to pick up Ada from one of her last days of preschool. I had taken a long, hilly walk with my mother-in-law that morning -- so, standing in the sun watching the kids play in inflatable pools was quite comfortable. Labor felt eons away. Still, we returned home for lunch . . . and not an hour later, my water broke. 38 weeks and one day.

You guys know that nursing has never been my love language. (Does that term even apply here? I don't know. I just like typing love language.) Breastfeeding is complicated for me. It was when I was feeding Ada, but it was new back then. Fresh. I was trying very hard to succeed at mom-ing. The novelty helped me trudge through to 17 months. Not a drop of formula hit that angel-baby's lips. This time around, though, I almost instantly couldn't take the cluster-feeding. I'd feel the guilt rise from within.

(E passed out after nursing in public)

Even through intense pangs of nursing aversion, my internal dialogue was all about comparison. "Don't you love this baby as much as you loved Ada? Give her 'the BEST'!" Breastfeeding is what you are supposed to do if you value the more crunchy things I supposedly value. I had a LLL leader once tell me upon meeting her that it was a shame I weaned Ada at such a "young" age. After all, her healing from brain surgery would have been much better had I not been selfish. I digress.

OK. So, long story short -- I did a feed of formula -- combination feeding -- once a day with Eloise when she was like 4 to 5 months old. My supply never wavered. It wasn't the easiest arrangement. Stephen didn't love using the strangely slanted Doidy cup, but it was the only way she'd guzzle the chemical sludge, er, formula. Somewhere around 6 months, she cut out that feed and I just resumed breastfeeding for all milk feeds. Like a champ. Oh, we also started solids a bit after 4 months this time around despite numerous recommendations I've read. Here's the thing -- Eloise was much happier when she started eating solids. The reflux got better. It just seemed like a natural progression.

Let's see. So, she was feeding like 5-6 times a day . . . and then it dropped to a steady 5 times a day for quite some time. She'd eating upon waking at 8, then at 11, 3, 7, and sometime in the night or early morning. This schedule continued till Eloise was around 10 months old when I decided to night wean. I was tired from waking up and she had stopped eating much at that overnight hour anyway. Guess what? There wasn't a single night of protest. Life sailed on. Since 10.5 months or so, Eloise has been sleeping from 7:30 till around 7:30 pretty much every night. Including now, when she is currently getting six teeth at once. Holy moly.

A week ago, I decided that a year of nursing is going to be our journey. I got my cycle back last month. I swear that ever since, Eloise has just been nursing differently. She's eating far less, she's far more distracted, she'd biting more than ever (yay teething!). She's also becoming a toddler, and that's a whole new world of nursing frustrations. With all the trouble I had getting into my groove . . . I'm proud to say I made it this far. We did. Together. I really do need to thank the patient nursling baby for putting up with my craziness with not loving what should be the most natural thing in the world.

OK. So, a week ago I replaced one of the daytime feeds with a cup of cow's milk. We're at 11.5 months, so I figure that's close enough to the magic 12-month mark when you can start offering milk. She is doing really well with these awesome Boon silicone cup-toppers (that are several dollars cheaper on Amazon than at Target where I got mine -- boo!). She drinks around 4 ounces pretty reliably. I'd like it to be 6, but we'll take it. Wasn't super easy at first, but within a week, she is now drinking without much trouble.

Today, I've decided I'm going to see if we can get another feed weaned. And I plan to go at the rate of a feed dropped every one or two weeks until we're done. Should be by 13 months, give or take.

I feel like saying that I'm doing mother-led weaning isn't going to sit well with some breastfeeding advocates. I love my children tremendously, but I also recognize that to be a good mom, I need to feel good myself. I also want to be another voice in the nursing world. I am a member of a Facebook group on the subject, for example, and there's so much mommy shaming and fear mongering that goes on there.

Like, "how dare you give your sweet baby that evil formula when there's donor milk from total strangers that you can get on Craigslist?"

Or "You say fed is best? That's like saying not killing your child is best!" (No, really. That comment was on there!)

It goes on and on. I did the best I could. And I have come to a place after a lot of anguish and questioning of myself where I feel like I really did do well for my child. I want to say again that I experienced no breastfeeding issues by doing the whole breast-and-bottle are best thing. We did it temporarily and then resumed regularly scheduled programming. Eloise is gaining weight better now than she had been, too. Thank goodness for reflux meds (yet another thing the breastfeeding group says are evil).

There's a lot more to say, but I may lump that in a proper happy birthday post in a couple weeks. I am a true believer that fed is best. No matter what you're doing, you're doing a good job if you are caring enough to, well, care about what goes into your baby's system. Keep on keeping on. Don't let peer pressure make you miserable on either side of the spectrum. I have several dear friends who have nursed three-year-olds, more power to these ladies. I, myself, have never ingested breastmilk . . . and I've lived nearly 34 years to bring you these ever-entertaining musings.

Happy Friday, friends!

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