Bambina and I at around 6 or 7 months :-)
Yesterday my daughter and I were sitting on the couch just hanging out, looking through her books. I was wearing a low-cut, v-neck top that for some reason, on this day, caught her attention. I've worn tops like this before, that same one included, but this time, she stared at my chest for a few seconds, smiled, patted my chest and said, “Mama,” with loving eyes and tone. That is what she used to call breastfeeding when I was still BF her nine months ago. When she wanted to feed she would say “Mama?” (I am getting teary-eyed just thinking about that time in our lives together.) She then proceeded to pull open my top, over my left breast, exposing my black bra. She smiled and again said, “Mama.” I asked her if she wanted “Mama,” just to see what she would say but knowing what her answer would be, and she quickly closed my top and said, “No,” without a second thought at all. “Oh, no, no, no, I am way past that stage, Mama,” is the reaction I got. LOL. It was very cute and it made me wonder, do they ever really forget? She has no interest whatsoever in BF anymore, but she does seem to remember what that time was in her life. And from the look on her little face, it was a dear and loving time for her.
I know I haven’t written about my weaning experience and life after the end of my BF days. But I will say, that I am very proud of myself for reaching my goal of BF for one year…and I did it for 13 months! I think I just needed some time to say goodbye and to move on… and to be able to write about it without crying through the entire damn blog post. The latter is already unsuccessful. Weaning my daughter from BF after she turned 1 year was very hard because I really wanted to keep BF, but I knew it was time to stop at 1 year. My body was exhausted and my milk supply was even lower if that's even possible! I cried a lot during the weaning period, I'm sure you read my post "Remnants of the Golden Years" about that. At first it was tough because she would tap on my chest and cry and get all sad, so I would give in. But I slowly started to not give in and immediately distract her to things she enjoyed or that I knew would divert her attention. (You would know what that is for your own baby). After she turned 1 year, I BF only once or twice during the day and at night if she woke up. Over several days, I eventually stopped all together very gradually. I believe that is the best way to wean, slowly and over time. Do NOT go cold turkey on them! It may take a month or two (or more) and that’s okay. Take your time and think about what an emotional time that is for our babies, too. Up until now, that's all they’ve known. It took me a full month for her to be okay and forget about the breast.
A few weeks after we had officially weaned, something very interesting happened. We were playing in the kitchen and I was down on the floor at her height, on my knees, and as she was standing while holding on to me, she reached over to my body and starting “motor boating” my chest, ha ha ha! (And no, I wasn’t showing cleavage this time, ha ha) Then she stopped, and rested the side of her head on my chest for several seconds going "Mmm…" in a loving way, and then just crawled away (she wasn’t walking yet). It was almost like she said, "I remember this place I loved, but I have now moved on." It made me teary-eyed (this happens a lot since I became a BF mom as you may have noticed!). And on some days, she would tap on my chest (or my boobs when I was showing cleavage… hey, might as well take advantage of the boobies after all my hard work!) when I would be holding her and would say, "Mama." Then nodded but that was it, like she remembered but didn’t necessarily want to BF. And THEN, on another occasion, a couple months after she had completely weaned, she pulled down my shirt like she used to do, to feed, and I thought, let me see what she does… and she started giggling! Like an embarrassed giggle, it was really weird. She was pointing and giggling, as if saying, "No silly, I don't want to BF." I wonder where kids get that? Is that a reaction of embarrassment or intimacy that is just innate to us as human beings? How did it naturally become funny to expose my boobs, you know what I mean? When before it was nurturing, it was food for her. I still need to research that one... And there was just one time after that, where she did that again, so I offered her my breast to see what she did and she quickly nodded "No, no, no!" and pushed it away. So weird how that works. And now, as you can see, she has no interest at all and yesterday was the first time ever that she, again, acknowledged the breast and that it was once “Mama.” That happy place of nurturing.
If you are starting to wean or just about to wean, just know that it will happen gradually. It may be tough especially on the emotions, but if you are ready and your body is ready and tired, it’s the right thing to do. Your baby, and you, will be okay. When I did it, after she turned 1, I wanted to take advantage of that window of opportunity that toddlers have before they turn 2. It’s a good time then to establish new routines, new rules, new schedules, etc. Because after they turn 2, they begin to get set in their ways, and it gets tougher to introduce and establish new rules and routines. Perhaps this is why some parents experience that age as “the terrible twos?” I don’t know, I’ll let you know when I enter that stage with my bambina. But this was a good time for me to transition and wean her away from the breast and any other sleep training I needed, and to establish only drinking from the sippy cups and bottles. And eventually, at around 1-½ years, I weaned her completely from the bottle with much success. That one was also difficult but it worked when I bought her a transitioning sippy cup that had a soft spout. Now she is showing more interest in drinking from a regular cup or with a straw. And also, at 11 months, I started introducing whole, cow’s milk. The brands that don't have added hormones and/or are organic. Very, very slowly so her system could adjust. Whatever milk you will be giving your baby after you stop BF, the month before you start weaning would be a good time to introduce that slowly. I started with 1 oz at a time, and no more than 2 oz a day. The first day, after she had the 2 oz., she blew up her diaper in a major way, LOL! It was a war zone. (I wrote about it in that same blog post from above.) But she quickly adjusted and after she was completely weaned, that's all she started drinking, along with water. I still dilute the milk with water sometimes though, when I feel she has had too much. I think they only need about 12 oz. a day of milk since they are eating full solids now, and my doctor said 2% milk is just fine.
I hope you have enjoyed my woes of weaning and I will share more stories from my BF and weaning days as I remember them. Or, like yesterday, as my bambina reminds me with those little things she does that makes “Mama” cry.