How I’m Weaning my One-Year-Old From Breastfeeding, With Mixed Emotions
Most moms have a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding; what's unique from mom-to-mom is the exact measure of the emotions involved.
No one loves the pain of getting started, with all the glamour of cracked nipples, leakage and balloonage. Balloonage is not a word, in case you're wondering, but anyone who has breastfed or is allergic to beestings knows what "balloonage" means.
Your baby might start crying because Uncle Francis is wearing too much Aqua Velva. Even though your own eyes are burning and you can taste his cologne in the air, instinctually, a baby's tears, heck -- any baby's tears, plus probably when dogs bark -- and you suddenly feel like your baby is hungry and you're not making enough breast milk.
Then there's that first taste of post-natal freedom where you skip out of the house to make a grocery store run. You've never been so exhilarated by a solo car ride since you were handed your driver's license. Then you wind up behind an extreme couponer at checkout, which makes you hyperventilate because you're going to be late for the next feed.
In short, breastfeeding can be stressful.
On the other hand, we have the lovey-dovey emotions that come from breastfeeding. We get a hit of the love hormone, oxytocin, which makes us feel relaxed and even more goo-goo-gah-gah than usual for our bundles of joy.
We also get a high from knowing we alone can perfectly nourish this awe-inspiring creature that sprang from our loins. Well, mine did less springing than some loin fruits. I would have offered her a compass and a spelunker's helmet if it would have sped up her descent, but I'm told compasses are not age-appropriate toys for the pre-birth set.
But I digress.
I'm Going to Have My Body Back
The weaning stories I've heard from other moms involve more of the "can't wait to have myself back" feel to them, mostly because if you can't wait to have your body back, you're more likely to express that opinion.
It's kind of uncool and sad to say out loud that weaning makes you want to cry. Voicing that kind of sentiment could also lead to the Breastfeeding Enforcement Squad to leap out of the bushes to encourage you to keep going! Why stop then? You should breastfeed forever!
But it's not that simple, is it? We can't breastfeed forever, nor do most sane people want to. Our job as parents is to encourage independence, liberty, freedom, justice for all ... sorry, I got carried away. What I'm trying to say is that a huge part of our job is to teach our children how to survive without us.
First we cut the cord, then we wean our children, then we teach them to ride a bike, and then we teach them how to drive. Those steps should really happen in that order, because you don't want to teach someone how to drive and then cut the cord. That would be painful.
In correct order, cord-cutting, weaning, bike-riding and driving are the Four Stages of Autonomy in childrearing. You can look it up. Wait, no, don't. I just made that up. But they make sense, right? I should create a Wikipedia entry for that.
Get Out of the Way, Kid, My Oxygen Mask Comes First
It's high time I put on my oxygen mask. I was lucky that I got laid off from my job when I did, so that I was able to stay home and effortlessly breastfeed for what feels like forever now. But I'm feeling slightly short of air these days.
I have the opportunity to begin working out of the home again a few days a week so that I can start making doughnuts and bringing home bacon. There are a few out-of-town trips I would like to take.
The longer I breastfeed, the longer it's just plain easier to keep my wings folded up and put away. My wings need stretching, frankly.
Our Gradual Plan
I have been preparing for this for a long time. We started the slow wean at nine months, where we began to drop one daily feed per month. It seems to be going well for Alex that way - she didn't even notice the absence the omitted daytime feeds.
We only do one feed a day now, first thing in the morning. We ditched the bedtime feed about a week ago, and how sad that made me was a little bit shocking to me. Since then, Alex is having a hard time falling asleep at night and last night she really cranked up the drama, which isn't helping.
One more feed to go by the wayside until we're completely done, which will happen in about two week's time. I'm excited for the liberty and freedom this big step will give to me as well as my baby, who is quickly becoming a little girl. I realized it was high time we got this show over and done with when she began shoving my head to the side so I wouldn't watch her eat.
How to Mark the Occasion? A Bra Party, of Course
I decided that I need to have a celebration of sorts, so that this end can symbolize a new beginning. For Alex, the celebration will be her first birthday party, where she will receive plenty of loud, batteries-required, parental-crazy-making toys for her ultimate satisfaction.
For myself, I get to have a bra party. Sorry, there's only one person on the guest list. Well, three, if you count the girls. These boobies have been working hard for a year now, with no vacations and no new outfits. They've been stuffed into the same ratty old ill-fitting bras, because who wants to buy a new bra for boobs that are going to change, yet again.
For their retirement party, I'm taking the girls out to Vicky's (Victoria's Secret) to get them fitted and dressed up in a new wardrobe as a reward for their tireless year of service. They might have to come out of retirement again at some point, but for now, I'm going to let them enjoy their much needed vacation in style.
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