Nursing to weaning, and everything in between.

As I start to gather my thoughts for this post, we are just 5 days away from Grace's 6th birthday.  Almost 6 years ago my breastfeeding journey began.  And I am now 24 hours into the end of this chapter of my life.

The last 6 plus years I have been pregnant or nursing.  Early summer 2013, I got pregnant with Grace.  She was born in January of 2014 and nursed until she was 22 months old.  I was almost 5 months pregnant with Brooklyn when I weaned Grace.  In March of 2016, Brooklyn was born and she nursed until she was 17 months old.  I was 2 months pregnant (and extremely nauseous!) with Emily when I had no choice but to wean Brooke.  Emily was born in March of 2018 and will be about a week shy of 22 months old when we put the final period on this chapter.

I talk a lot about chapters on this blog.  There was the life before kids chapter, the military chapter, the Maryland chapter, the Georgia chapter, and so on and so forth. Writing the end of this chapter feels so much more significant than any of the ones prior.

I'm sad.  I am so very ready.  But I am so very sad.

I will never be pregnant or nurse another baby, again.  This is really the end.

This body has given me three healthy pregnancies, three healthy babies and over five years of nursing.  I'm proud as hell.  The bond my babies and I have can not be duplicated or replaced.  I grew them, I exclusively fed them, I held them in the middle of the night, I sacrificed so much of me for my babies.

I knew going into this year I wanted to have Emily weaned before I turn 30 at the end of February.  So much so that I put it on my list as a goal for the year.  Two weeks ago we started this process.  We cut out the nap time feeding, the morning feeding, the middle of the night feeding and now the bedtime feeding.  I expected this great fight from Emily, but she has honestly taken it in strides.  She has always been much more attached than her sisters ever were.  Almost possessive.  But here we are.

So what have I learned?

--To breastfeed or not to breastfeed was never an option for me.  My plan was to breastfeed.  I am SO lucky that my body produced enough milk to help me put thigh rolls on my girls.  Not everyone is as fortunate, and I know this now.  It it not something I take for granted.

--A Haakaa was the best $20 investment, EVER.  With my first two babies I wasted so much milk that naturally let down while I was nursing.  I was able to have a supply in my freezer with Emily that I never had with the others and it was just from catching my let down in this little silicone cup.

--YOU know your body.  Both Grace and Brooklyn nursed with the assistance of a nipple shield the whole time.  It was a pain in the rear, but it allowed us to be able to nurse.  One experience that will forever be in my memory... after delivering Brooke, I had an overnight nurse that tried to get her to latch without the use of a shield.  I was in the hospital by myself (Rob was with Grace) and she had me in tears as she refused to listen to me.  I just wanted her to bring me a shield.  The minute she finally gave in, Brooke latched and we were on our way.  FIGHT FOR YOURSELF.  You know what does or doesn't, or is or isn't working.

--Likewise... when it comes time to wean...  Listen to yourself.  If it has been a few months and you are more miserable than anything else, move on.  You tried and you should be proud of that.  If you have been nursing for an extended amount of time but you are ready to move on, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  It is YOUR choice when, where and how you nurse.  I knew our journey was coming to an end when I stopped enjoying it.  Emily was possessive and pushy and I had started to come to hate nursing.  I knew we needed to wrap things up.

--There will be emotions.  I cried for almost two straight days after our last nursing session.  I knew I was ready and I knew she was ready, but dang.  Part of it was hormones and part of it was the end of a significant chapter in my life.  But I wasn't prepared for feeling like I was going to cry at every mention of it.  It doesn't help that you are walking around with a chest full, just waiting to nurse.  It's like a constant reminder that the chapter is ending.

--Let your people in.  For me, I shared this journey on Instagram with all my followers... but let your mama know, your significant other, your best friends.  I had a whole group of people checking in on me as we cut things off.  For them, I am SO thankful.

--Go slowly.  We went from nursing in the morning, before nap time, before bedtime and in the middle of the night to not nursing at all.  But we did it slowly.  We cut out the nap time nursing session first.  A week later, I cut out the morning nursing session.  We went from cuddling and nursing to start the day to just getting up and going.  Then we cut out the middle of the night nursing, by just rocking her back to sleep.  The bedtime one was the one I dreaded the most.  But by that point, she had adjusted to the idea and eventually went from crying for an hour plus after laying her down to just a few minutes before falling asleep.  Slow and steady was best for both me AND her.  It took us about three weeks from start to finish.

--When you decide to completely wean, make sure it is during a time where you don't have a lot going on.  You'll be miserable and emotional.  Take a few days.  Let your body adjust and get it done.

Most importantly, remember how many mamas went through this exact stage in your life.  It is HARD... but we all make it to the other side, one way or another.  My child is still clingy as ever and has adjusted beautifully to life without nursing.  I am excited for this next chapter in our life.  Proud as hell to get to celebrate the last six years, but ready to move on.

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