I can’t believe I’m writing about my son’s weaning process, and that it’s been a year since he was born. That may sound like a cliche, but it’s SO true. Time has been soaring by and I’m trying to catch up and fully realize I have a one-year-old!
Our journey started with breastfeeding. Right off the bat, I had an amazing lactation consultant in the hospital who showed us how to get a great latch. And Kai was hooked. Despite the pain in those first three weeks, so was I. I loved that I could provide nutrition for him. I loved cuddling with him (and watching old episodes of Amazing Race at the same time). Right around four months, nursing got tricky. We were nowhere near keeping a schedule, and he’d refuse a lot more than I expected him to. I panicked about whether he had enough milk several times a week. This continued off and on for, oh, FIVE more months! We had our good nursing days and our bad. Right around when Kai turned nine months old, we hit our stride with breastfeeding. We both knew what to expect and when, and it was a huge relief knowing he had enough milk every day.
At ten months we were having four feedings a day, with plenty of solids mixed in. We played around with sippy cups, but he seemed to think of them as a teething toy. When he did get liquid out, it was clear that water was NOT on his preferred menu. With breastfeeding going so well, I decided we’d work on that later since I didn’t want to give him formula in the cup, or cow’s milk, or water with juice. It was water or nada in my book.
I told everyone my plan, just to make sure I’d stick with it: I’m going to work on weaning right around the one-year mark. So here I am, with an eleven-and-a-half-month-old, and I’m still in shock over how much progress he’s made. Our pediatrician advised us to give him cow’s milk in a cup now that he could digest it. The very day I started doing that, my baby was on board with weaning. I had decided to replace one feeding with a cup of milk, but my baby decided to replace TWO feedings right off the bat. What’s more, I never had any let-down, clogged ducts, or pain. I suspect that these past few weeks some of our feedings have been a big deceptive, with him dozing off on my breast while making sucking motions but not really getting milk. Maybe we were both a little bit more ready than I ever thought we were.
We are now down to an afternoon breast milk snack and a nighttime feeding right before bed. The weird thing is he’s still not keen on drinking from a cup. He is frustrated that he can’t do it himself, because he doesn’t have the hang of using any spill-proof cups yet. We let him hold the handles of an open cup and he’ll bring it to his mouth for a few sips, but that’s it so far. I’m trying to have patience, and we mix in milk with his foods in the meantime. (Coming up soon, I’ll review his favorite cup and go into more detail!)
I feel the strangest mix of emotions about weaning. After a year of nursing, it feels odd not to have those key hours together in our day. But when I look at my son, I see a little one who is so smart, and gaining independence, and I just know that it’s for the best. Now that he doesn’t depend on my milk for nutrition, it truly feels like he’s growing up. And I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss his smallness, the little sounds he’d make while nursing, the way he’d stroke my hair, or break a latch just to smile at me. I’m going to miss the special connection we had and the little thrill of oxytocin that came along with it.
I have lots of good nursing memories. Here are a few: nursing in the car on a perfect fall day at the top of a mountain, right before going on a hike; nursing lakeside on a summer day and people-watching, nursing while playing a game with my family, and maybe most of all—nursing him the first few days of his life in the hospital. It felt like a miracle to have him in my arms and to know that I was his mama and that we were succeeding and he was going to be better than ok.
But good things are coming our way. I’m going to have independence, too. I will be able to go out without mentally calculating when and where I’ll need to find a place to nurse him. I’ll be able to wear a GOOD bra! I won’t ever be stuck in some back room at an event because he was too distracted to feed around others. (Those were some lonely times!)
We will have lots of adventures together, me, my husband, and our little toddler.