Our Nursing Journey

I have two big pieces of news to share with you guys today: one is happy news, and the other comes with much sadness for me. I’ll start by sharing the happy news, then I’ll get into the sad news later.

So, first things first, I am pregnant! As I write this, I am 11 weeks pregnant with our second child, and our due date is November 6. We are so excited for our little family to grow, and I know Ellis will make a sweet big brother.

Now for the sad news. This is hard for me to write, and I don’t feel like I have many people I can talk to about it either, as not everyone will understand. I think our nursing journey has come to an end. My big goal for nursing Ellis was to make it to two years, per World Health Organization recommendations, and Ellis turns 2 in about two more weeks. I know that making it this far is good, and I’m not kicking myself too much over not quite making it to the two-year mark.

The hardest part about all of this is how this is ending. I had thought Ellis would start asking to nurse less and less, we’d let him self-wean, and that’s how this would end. But unfortunately, that’s not the case. Being pregnant, my body and my hormones have changed, and the last week or so I could tell my supply was going away quick. I would normally nurse Ellis down for his nap and to get him to sleep at bedtime as well as throughout the night.

But lately he would nurse, and instead of falling asleep, he would finish and seem aggravated, then he’d be tired, and we didn’t know how else to get him to sleep, and he’d end up staying up late. When he’d wake up at night, same thing, he’d nurse, but it wouldn’t work to get him back to sleep. He seemed upset, then he’s ask for water or a banana (he’s never asked for either during the night before).

While I know I could continue to dry nurse him, it didn’t seem like it was helping him, and it seemed to be frustrating him more than anything. We decided that maybe it was just time for me to stop breastfeeding, and that would be best for all of us in the long run.

From the last time Ellis nursed. He loves to play with my hair.

So we began the process this past week of weaning, and it has been a rough week on all of us, (although it has gotten better this weekend). It has been so hard for me, when Ellis is sad and frantically signing “milk milk milk,” then having to explain to him that “mama doesn’t have any more milk” then offering fridge milk and snuggles instead. Well, he doesn’t like that answer. He then would start hitting himself and crying more, and contorting his body like something out of the Exorcist. Not being able to give him what he asks for has been so hard for me. I am fighting back the tears having to tell him that I’m sorry, I don’t have any more milk, I wish I could.

To be honest, it makes me feel like a failure, like I’m letting him down, and I feel selfish that we are stopping. It has been a hard week on all of us, and I have cried lots over this, as has Ellis.

It has been a challenge to figure out how to get him to sleep, but my husband had a long weekend off for Easter, so he’s been able to help with bedtime, and it’s taking less and less time and struggle to lay down with him and get him to sleep, thankfully.

The trickier part seems to be naptime. We have yet to master our transition for naptime, so naps have been crap or non-existent this last week. Normally he would nap around 2 hours, or at least an hour and a half, but this week it’s been only 40-45 min even with nursing, and without, it’s either no nap at all, or if we happen to be going somewhere, he got a little nap in the car seat. We’ve tried to give him a good meal and play outside before naptime, trying the same thing we do at night, by laying down with him, and try and get it as dark as we can in the bedroom (which is harder in the afternoon than it is at night, of course). So far we’re not having much luck, but I’m hoping we’ll get it to work this week.

Those sweet brown eyes looking up at me…

And the other really hard part about this is how much I miss our nursing snuggles. I would run my fingers through his hair, and it’d calm both of us down. I miss him looking up at me under his long eyelashes, and the way he’d always reach up and grab my hair. I miss the closeness, and falling asleep with him as he’d nurse, and the way his hair would get sweaty when he’d nurse at naptime. He was easily distracted, so I’d always lay down in bed with him to nurse. I’ll miss those quite, peaceful times we had together.

It’s been two days since Ellis nursed last, and I still can’t believe it’s over. I knew when I got pregnant that my milk supply might dry up, but I didn’t think it’d be this soon.

My little boy is growing up, and I hope that he still needs my snuggles and kisses and doesn’t stop being the sweet mama’s boy that he is now that our nursing journey is drawing to a close. I never thought it would be this hard, but all I can seem to do right now is cry buckets about it.

To those still nursing, soak in all those sweet breastfeeding snuggles while it lasts, mamas.

With love and tears,
Sharon