Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Weaning Zoe

I think I'm finally ready to talk about this, though there is no guarantee I won't melt into a puddle of tears in the middle. Good thing this is a blog post and not a public speech.

It has been a little over a month since I had to wean Zoe. Had to are the key words there.
As mentioned before, I was having pre-term contractions and it was highly "recommended" that I wean her ASAP. Midwives are a gentle people. They never tell you that you HAVE to do anything. So when a midwife says, "I would stop breastfeeding as quickly as possible if I were you." You listen.

Or, you try really hard to listen.

To be honest, I nursed her three times after I was told to stop. We were testing out some things to see if we could get the contractions to stop without weaning first two times (shortened nursing duration and herbal remedies). But, the 3rd time was out of complete desperation.

She hadn't napped in days due to the whole crib debacle and she was running around screaming for an hour tearing apart her room. NOTHING I tried calmed her down, so I finally offered, "Zoe, do you want to nurse?"

Hurricane Zoe stopped immediately. She climbed into my lap, nursed, and fell asleep. I cried for 20 minutes about how I was taking the only thing that really calmed her down away from her. I convinced myself in that moment that I didn't really need to stop. That people were over-reacting. That there was no real evidence that my pre-term contractions were dangerous.

But then I had horrible contractions the rest of the day, and I knew it was time to move on.

I nursed her for 2 years, 1 month, 3 weeks, and 6 days.

I never imagined in a million years that I would nurse a child for that long. As I said in my 18-month update, I planned on nursing her for as long as it was a positive experience for both of us. For a while I felt like that plan had been unfairly and abruptly taken from me.

It was not until recently I saw we did reach that milestone. I thought the fact that I didn't want to stop should have been enough for me to not have to, but nursing was no longer a positive experience for both of us.

The other problem was, Zoe and I were not the only two in the equation. I had to make my first of many decisions about how to balance caring for more than one child.

This concept is new and mysterious to me. I am an only child to a single parent. I seriously do not understand family dynamics in any way because I've never experienced them firsthand. Once I could see I was not weaning her for my comfort, but to decrease the potential risk to the baby inside of me, it seemed absurd that I was ever so resistant.

Nevertheless, I was pretty surprised over how heartbroken I was during the whole process. Zoe seemed mostly content with the change. She asks to nurse occasionally and when I offer to read/sing/cuddle instead she gets a big pouty face and stares off into space, careful not to make eye contact with me.

Zoe actually seemed to be trying really hard to wean herself starting right before she turned 2. She would often say that she wanted to go straight to bed without nursing, but then she would panic and change her mind. She didn't seem to care if I couldn't nurse her for some reason and she wasn't even phased when I was gone for multiple days in June.

When we were at the beach this year, I sat down on the bed to nurse her, but it was horribly uncomfortable with my 28 week belly and having no way to sit upright. I asked her to sit differently than she normally does to nurse, and this happened...

That's right. She turned to me and said, "I can't nurse like this."

Is that ridiculous or what?

Then she got up, walked away from me and asked Yannos to put her in bed. It was maybe the hardest we've ever laughed.

If anyone wanted to make an argument about what makes a child too old to nurse, this would be a pretty good one.

The point is, she was slowly getting there on her own. That made the whole process a million times easier and it was still pretty distressing for me.

A lot of people ask me what my plan is now for her and the new baby.

Originally, I thought we would just pick it back up at 37 weeks, but that seems silly now that she did so well with the transition. I like the new routine she has, but I'm not sure I'm interested in telling her she can't nurse if she wanted to try after baby brother gets here.

Basically...I have no idea and that's OK.

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