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This post is going to be very personal and very cathartic for me, and to be honest, probably a little dramatic too.  I definitely have more feelings on the subject of breastfeeding than I can articulate into words but I’m going to do my best to recap things, for myself so I can look back on this in years to come, and for those of you with interest in breastfeeding and weaning.

First, some notes.  (And a catch-up for anyone new-ish to DH, hello!)

All photos taken this week by The Scottish.

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Timeline of Pain

I’m doing this all from memory without my calendar because the actual days and weeks don’t matter.  This is how I remember it.

The Wee One latched right away as a newborn but would stay on for 45 minutes or more.  The Mother was getting a little upset that the nurses basically forced (a very fatigued and confused) me to let him nurse for so long each time but I know they were just trying to help us establish a good relationship.

I noticed The Wee One had a small tongue tie while still in the hospital and we end up getting it cut along with his circumcision on day two of life.  It might sound cruel but The Scottish and I know that babies heal amazingly fast and it’s best to do those things while they are still sleepy newborns.

Pain while nursing set in after a week or so.  It was mind-numbing, excruciating, scream out in frustration kind of pain.  It burned after I nursed.  It felt worse than labor because labor eventually ended.  This pain did not.

I diagnosed myself with thrush with the help of Google and online friends.  A pediatrician confirmed it and both The Wee One and I were put on meds.  They didn’t work.  We got another medicine for him that did get rid of the yeast in his mouth but nothing they prescribed eased my pain.  Lactation consultants were no help either (unfortunately).

I looked into alternative medicine and that’s when I begin using Gentian Violet (G.V.) and we were both covered in purple.  I used it off and on for weeks.

I remember being in pain for the first 3 months of nursing.

I remember one day the pain was gone, it was very gradual though.  I’m certain it was the G.V. that eventually helped.

Month 4 was a turning point.  Things got better.

Months 5-7 were good and felt… normal.  It was wonderful.

8 months postpartum we got thrush again.  I got the good stuff for The Wee One right away but skipped the doctor for myself and used G.V. exclusively.

I felt better by month 9.

Sometimes I would get random pain but for the most part month 10 was good.

I became pregnant in month 11 and that meant more sensitivity, more pain.

Which brings us to today, currently it hurts when he latches but it subsides and it’s very tolerable.

Timeline of Nursing Sessions

Newborn to two months: ALL THE TIME (or that’s what it felt like anyway)

3 to 6 months: Every 2-3 hours

6 to 10 months: five times a day, on a set schedule

10 to 12 months: 4 times a day, morning, before each nap, and bedtime

12 to 14 months: Twice a day, morning and bedtime

I love his eyes in this photo.  “Umm, Dad, what are you doing??”  🙂

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This week I am officially weaning him.  The Wee One turned 14 months old on September 22nd.  I’m weaning for two reasons, my breast sensitivity is increasing and I want, no, I need a few months break before I start up again with 24 hour nursing in early March.

That said, I am 100% NOT emotionally ready to wean.  I’m a wreck.  On Sunday night I had this terrible ominous feeling as I went to bed.  I confided in The Scottish about my fear of weaning starting this week and I was in tears about how fast my son has grown up.  It seems so definitive, stopping nursing means he’s a big boy, more so than walking.  I don’t know why.

The next morning, as if he knew, The Wee One slept until 7 AM.  7 AM!!!  The Scottish and I both woke up feeling like new people.  I made the decision to start eliminating the morning session.  It seemed like great timing since I was feeling awake and usually nursing in bed lets me relax for an extra 15-20 minutes.  We started our day with an energetic good morning and some cow’s milk.  He seemed OK, only pulling on my shirt once before getting easily distracted.

I nursed Monday night and continued to skip the morning sessions.  Tonight I have plans at my parent’s church so I won’t be home for bedtime.  That will be the end of the bedtime session.   Although I might try nursing once a day for the rest of the week to slow my production down gradually and because I often get shooting pains in my breasts when he doesn’t nurse.

Weaning this particular week is proving even harder than a normal week because my poor little man has diarrhea and nursing is supposed to help with that by keeping him extra hydrated.  ARGH, what doesn’t nursing help with??  It’s amazing stuff!

Hmm, how can I describe that this feels like a loss when I don’t understand it myself?  I’m going to try.

At the beginning when you start nursing your newborn, it can be very stressful.  You literally feel like a milk machine, your soul purpose being to help another human being survive.  Everything rests on your shoulders and I don’t know any mom who takes that responsibility lightly.  The constant physical contact is both exhilarating and suffocating.  But you quickly fall into a rhythm and a routine, and soon you look forward to nursing your child and it becomes effortless and a part of your existence.

That is why weaning can be so difficult. For months and months, your purpose is to feed your child and then one day you’re not needed anymore.  Or so it feels. Of course a mother is always needed, but it’s different.  All that time I spent embracing my new role as a milk machine bonded me to the whole idea of breastfeeding.

I cherish those moments with The Wee One so close to me and it’s become a special part of our relationship.  Now that it is ending, I’m left feeling a bit empty (literally and figuratively, haha).  Little breastfeeding humor for ya.  😉

My relationship with my child is changing.  It is probably changing for the better, but I can’t see that yet.  I only see him growing up too fast.  Weaning is another hormonal-driven tailspin that comes along with being a mother.  Intellectually I get that.  Emotionally, I can’t see through the fog.  But I will.

I hope I never forget my last nursing session with him.  I can still remember the first one, at the hospital, mere minutes after he was born.  For the time being, I’m letting myself be sad, but soon I will embrace the future and all the wonderful moments to come instead of mourning the past.  Cheers to the future of all our wee ones.

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Thanks for reading this.

In case you are interested, here are a few old posts on my breastfeeding journey and our battle with thrush.

In the beginning.

Dislike.

Moving past it.

Another appearance.

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4 Responses to “My Year+ of Breastfeeding”

  1. Jenn

    Thanks for writing this, it was nice to read. My daughter is 4 weeks old and no one ever told me how painful nursing can be. Like you said excruciating, mind numbing pain. Unfortunately I couldn’t get past it or handle the pain and we switched to pumping and bottle feeding. She’s still getting my milk which is most important and I don’t feel any less bonded to her. I wish I could of gotten through the pain, I assume it would of eventually gotten better. It just hurt so much!

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      I’m sorry you were in pain. Sometimes the best thing for baby is what is best for mama! I know moms who exclusively pump and get into a great routine with that, hugs to you!

      Reply
  2. Erin

    I feel your pain, Stephanie! I breastfed my daughter for 12 months. It hurt so bad in the beginning I wanted to quit multiple times, but am so happy I stuck with it through the pain. I was pretty much ready to wean her (we’d been cutting down slowly for months, usually just following her lead). She turned one in May and I was planning on weaning after mothers’ day, but she had other ideas. She weaned herself the day after her birthday 🙁 I do still remember the last time. I didn’t think I’d feel so sad, since I was planning on doing it anyway, but hormones are amazing things! About a week later I just wasn’t myself and didn’t put the two together until 2 weeks later when I was finally out of my funk. This article helped me a lot http://cupofjo.com/2012/02/motherhood-mondays-the-hardest-two-months-of-my-life/ I hope you have a smooth journey through weaning – be kind to yourself.

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Thank you for sharing your story! I’m glad you remember that last nursing session with your daughter. And I’m glad I’m not alone in the sadness and hormone crashing that comes along with weaning. I love Cup of Jo but I hadn’t read that blog post. It’s so interesting to me! It makes so much sense. Thanks for that!

      Reply

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