The End of Breastfeeding (For Now)
If someone told me, during those early newborn months, that I would breastfeed Julia until she was 16 months old, I would have cried. I know the tears would’ve fallen, because hearing that would have felt like a horribly cruel joke. Our journey was so incredibly rough at the beginning that I’m still shocked we made it this far.
I wanted to talk about this earlier, but it would’ve meant saying that I was pregnant, and I wasn’t ready to let that cat out of the bag. It’s actually perfect timing to share this today since it’s World Breastfeeding Week (August 1—7). While I don’t know if me being pregnant was the reason she stopped breastfeeding, I do think it contributed to her weaning. I was 11 weeks along when she didn’t ask to nurse at night for the first time ever, and I knew that was the beginning of the end. She dropped a few feedings during the previous weeks (she would be more interested in playing than nursing; I also offered her a sippy cup with milk during this time), but I knew once she gave up that night nursing session, that would be the end.
She takes a bottle at night (when do I need to stop that, by the way?) and then I’d always offer her “milk” (she uses the sign for it when she wants to nurse) before bed, but once she started to self wean, I stopped offering. She began asking for it, so I’d oblige. But that night, she wanted to read a book instead. So we read a book, and then I waited….and waited, internally begging her to ask for her milk. She never did, so I put her down in the crib, said, “night night,” and hopped on Twitter to share my woes.
Since that night she’s asked for it a few times here and there. I know she’s just comfort nursing at this point, and I’m okay with that. It feels absolutely different and hurts a little, to be honest, so I don’t let her stay on for too long. Once my husband comes home, he’s going to take over all of the night-time duties so that she can get used to him putting her down (since I’ll be tending to the new baby). In the meantime, I’ll still give her “milk,” when she asks, but I know it’s just her reconnecting with me and not actually nursing.
I’m really thankful it ended this way. It was natural and she initiated it, which is exactly what I wanted. I wouldn’t have had any issue tandem nursing once the baby arrived, but I think this will make things much, much easier in the long run. I’m also curious how this next bout with breastfeeding will go. I have a list of things I’d like to do different, and I’ve heard that each baby is different (and that goes for milk production as well), so this should be interesting. All I know is that if I made it this far, I can most certainly do it again!
I will always treasure the breastfeeding relationship we had, even the rocky beginning. I’ll never forget the way her big blue/gray/hazel/brown eyes (they’re still changing) looked up at me while she nursed. Or the way her little body curled up and fit perfectly in my arms and along my body—the stretched-marked body that helped keep her safe for 41 weeks, and then continued to help her grow once she was born. I love that breastfeeding was my magic weapon to help comfort her at a moment’s notice, and sometimes get her to fall asleep. Breastfeeding, as they say, is one of the most natural things a woman can do. While it certainly didn’t feel anywhere near natural at the beginning, I can safely say that it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced and I really can’t wait to do it again.
So proud of you for getting that far! It's pretty amazing. As for the bottles, my pediatrician had me stop cold turkey at 18 months…. and now my kid won't drink milk. Ugh.
I'm so proud of you! When we started breastfeeding I had no idea how much I would love it. I'm really hoping to continue on past a year and for as long as he wants as long as it works for both of us. I never thought I would want that! I want it to be his decision to wean because I think it works out best for everyone if it happens that way. James has always had a nightly bottle for his last feeding and I think I may want to stop that at 1 year so I can stop pumping and just feed him. Like you I have no idea when to drop the bottle even though that's the only one he gets! I'm hoping you have a wonderful second breastfeeding journey!
I loved that Charlotte weaned when she was ready, too. I never wanted to force it on her, even though I really didn't want to tandem nurse when Millie was born. I also think Millie's pregnancy had a hand in Charlotte weaning when she did. But, it was natural and never felt forced so I'm still happy with the way it worked out. Even now, Charlotte will ask for "some" (meaning she wants to nurse), I let her try, but she's forgotten how to actually nurse so she just ends up kissing my nipple, LOL! The nursing bond is a special one, and I know it's hard to let it go! I don't know how I'll feel when Millie weans and I'm not nursing anymore.
I still think it's awesome that you made it through all of your breastfeeding struggles! I hope nursing this new baby will be easier for you. 🙂
That is so sweet. Sounds like what happened with my oldest. He was 17 months old at the time. I just stopped offering and he stopped asking.
I was sad when Munchkin stopped nursing but like you, glad that it was her choice. I think she also stopped due to my pregnancy and honestly, my body was happy too. Being pregnant and nursing at the same time was so hard on it; I felt much better once she stopped. I can't wait to nurse Punkin. Nursing is so special and I'm so thankful that I have the privilege to do it!
And YAY, 16 months! Great job:)
In the beginning, the idea of breastfeeding to a year made me cry. It was so overwhelming because I imagined it would be the same amount of nursing that was happening at 2 weeks. Once time went on and I realized it wasn't as frequent or as long in duration, it was easier to handle!
I stopped breastfeeding when I got pregnant too. I kind of pushed towards weaning gently. I knew I didn't want to tandem nurse and I wanted her to wean early enough that she wouldn't associate weaning with the baby coming.
I'm glad you had a positive breastfeeding journey and hope it's even better the second time around!
Thank you for sharing your story all the way through to the end. What a great accomplishment! As I approach the thought of beginning my own breastfeeding journey in a few months, it helps to read success stories like yours (especially those that include the struggles as well).
So happy to hear that your weaning was easy going, and self – initiated! 16 months is wonderful success!
So happy for you, though! Weaning can be emotional, especially when the baby chooses it, but it's just another step in the journey.
Congratulations on baby #2! How exciting! And what a great breastfeeding story of perseverance and triumph! How wonderful that she self-weaned. I can feel the sadness through your writing, of not having that connection with her anymore, but be assured that you will connect with her on so many different levels moving forward. Good luck on this 2nd pregnancy (yes, things are different!) and hope that breastfeeding is a bit easier the 2nd time around. Though like you said, if you've already done it once (and with challenges), no challenges in #2 will seem that daunting.
Wow that is awesome! I am still torn if I want to try it again, whenever we get pregnant again that is. It was a nightmare of a situation with factors that hopefully wont be in play next time around. I will be interested to know how it compares to nursing your new baby. By the way how adorable is your little girl!!!
This is so sweet. You are so right, Jessica! It is so hard and tough in the beginning (for most of us mommies) to nurse but once you get through that first few weeks/month, its so worth it!! Thanks for sharing, you are a wonderful mama!!:)
This has me all teary – darn postpartum hormones 😉 I remember when little miss weaned at 14 months, how hard it was for me to see her replace me with a pacifier (after having ditched the pacifier at 7 months old). Here's praying nursing goes better at the beginning with the next little one, just know that it can be a difficult transition with each kiddo – I was in tears with baby #3 for the first week of nursing, despite having done it successfully with two others 🙂