Thursday, October 15, 2009

The accidental weaning

Breastfeeding Magdalena has been quite a different experience from Miriam's for many reasons, and I knew from the beginning that I most likely would not be nursing her for as long as I did Miriam. I made a half-hearted goal of 12 months figuring it would be pretty easy, but as it turns out, it was often a challenge to keep going for that long.

Anyway, this post is not a weepy eulogy mourning the passing of an era. It is the story of how Magdalena was weaned, somewhat accidentally.

Breastfeeding was never the same after I got sick back in June, not even after I worked hard to get my milk back. I knew my lactating days were numbered, and that was fine with me. But I was still determined to give it my best effort, and not wean Magdalena against her will, at least not if we could avoid it. It worked out OK. A little after she turned a year old, Magdalena was down to only one nursing session a day. Once you get down to that number, you know it's only a matter of time before you're done altogether.

Then Magdalena got sick. A couple of times, actually. She seems to have the smallest nasal passages on the planet, which means that if she is even a little congested, she can't breathe at all through her nose. That made for some difficult nursing, even when she wanted it so desperately. We worked through the first sickness, but it was stressful and exhausting for both of us. She got upset because she couldn't breathe well enough to latch on, and my milk was slow to let down because she wasn't sucking enough. Each situation was exacerbated by the other.

Somehow, we made it through. A few weeks later, she got sick again. And the fight just went entirely out of her. Instead of being frustrated that she couldn't nurse, she seemed irritated that we were still trying to. So she went a couple of days without nursing because she was too congested to make it work and I wasn't willing to force a 14-month-old to do it. (This couple of days happened to span a certain running relay. The extra discomfort of engorgement was just another lovely factor for my body to deal with during that strenuous experience.)

I gave it another shot the other day after her nose had cleared up a bit, but all the charm was gone. She settled down to nurse as usual but broke off soon after beginning and didn't even make an effort to continue. It was as if she was supremely bored and uninterested by the whole thing.

I guess I got the message.

Happy Weaning, Magdalena!


Liz Johnson said...

Hahahahahaha that picture is so priceless. Happy weaning, Magdalena! And CONGRATS on getting your body back to yourself, Bridget!!

Aimee said...

I have to admit I am a wee bit jealous! My boy has shown no interest in weaning whatsoever. At 19 months old I am beginning to see NO end in sight. How in the heck did you wean Miriam? He never gets grabby in public, but he also doesn't go to sleep without nursing at all. Sometimes I see flickers or not needing the nursing as much, but then he will go and start growing more teeth and its back to nursing with a vengeance. I am ready for baby #2, but am unable because of the prolactin. Did Miriam just stop? Is there hope? What was she like at say...19 months? We are headed back to Vienna in November, and then back to the states in February to Costa Rica for a week, and I am contemplating letting the nursing relationship go that long because its so easy. He will 23 months at that point. I guess I can wait that long, but did you do anything before Miriam's last nursing? Or did you go cold turkey? Sorry this is so long, I don't know many others who nurse the two years, so its nice to talk to someone who has been there.

Fromagette said...

Happy weaning, Magdalena!

Kristen said...

I think that is the perfect way to wean. It seems like the timing was right for you both. (Hope so, anyway!) Very similar to the way Madelyn weaned herself: she just basically lost interest, and I was okay with that at 15 months, as it was her choice.

Bridget said...

Aimee, your baby sounds exactly like Miriam was (no sleeping w/o nursing, etc.). One of the reasons I nursed all the way until 2 years old was for a similar reason you have coming up - international moves. I waited until I knew we'd be in America for a while and then we had a talk about nursing being for babies. I nursed her one last time, and that was it. Previous to that time, she went from 3x/day to 1x/day pretty quickly. The massive time zone change might help with that when you move - I used it to my advantage. Email me if you want more particulars.

Jeanerbee said...

It's so funny how each kid is different about nursing! Yay for you and Magdalena! I'm glad it was a relatively painless experience.... and to your friend Aimee... you are welcome to read my blog post on weaning my oldest... he nursed til 2 1/2 and through my pregnancy with my second...


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