(note, I know that I spelled "weaning" wrong in the title, but if I change it all my links will break. I just have to live knowing that I have a promoted typo...*twitch*)
Yesterday, I nursed once. At 10AM.
The day before I nursed 5 or so times.
I woke up yesterday, and I was done nursing. D to the O to the N E - DONE! I was no longer emotionally attached to the action. I no longer felt that was my connection with my babygirl.
Just to backtrack a bit...from day one, I had been nursing and pumping and bottle feeding because I new that when she was 2 months old, I was going to be gone overnight (2 nights!) for work. The goal was to nurse as long as I could stand it, but to share feeding duties with the hubster as much as possible. This worked out well, and allowed me the freedom of girls nights out, a drink or two, pump and dump. We were set. Bottle and breast baby. Until she was three months old - to the day. Then she gave up the bottle. No way no how no bottle.
At first, I treated it like, "oh, she doesn't want a bottle today...here's a boob." Then it was several days. Then I didn't try the bottle because I didn't want to waste the frozen stock of milk. Then I stopped pumping. And then I woke up one day to a baby who can't let me out of her sight for more than 2 hours at a time.
Granted, I was at home and she was at home. It was easy (for the most part), and we just rolled with it.
My goal was to try to breastfeed until she was 3 months old. I figured that was as long as I could stand it. The long shot was to make it until 6 months. When I hit the 6 month mark, and she wouldn't even entertain the idea of a bottle - I began to feel trapped. I felt relegated to breastfeed until she was a teenager...."Mom, I'm headed to prom, how about a nib before I go?"
I know that's exaggerating, but I felt that it wasn't ever going to end. I felt that when I did stay out for a dinner without her, I was being selfish. She would scream and cry, my husband would try to serve a bottle. Rejection, rejection, rejection.
I would come home to a sobbing baby and a frazzled husband. I didn't enjoy my evenings out because I knew what I would return to.
I stayed home. And nursed.
Eventually, I started spreading out the feedings. I had to. I had to get help caring for her, and since I couldn't leave a boob with her, she had to go without. She would nurse in the morning and then not again until noon. Even on days when she wasn't at the sitters or later when she was going to daycare in the mornings. It was working out well.
But the day ahead was looming. The day that we were going to be breaking our bank in order to pay for full-time daycare for a kid that could only go 4 hours at a time. I was offered the opportunity to come to the daycare to nurse, but that just was not a fit for our situation.
She needed to take a bottle.
I had so abandoned the bottle concept that I had returned the breast pump I had been using to my cousin 2,000 miles away. She'd soon need the pump herself, so I left it with her during our vacation last month.
I borrowed a pump. Turned her on. Nothing.
Not a thing.
10 minutes, 20 minutes.
What the hell? I was a pump queen mere months ago. 5 minutes, and I could have 6 ounces! Now this??
I had depleted my stock of frozen milk over the months with failed attempts at tempting babygirl to eat.
So much wasted milk.
At 9.5 months, she's too young to take cow's milk, so my only option was formula. Or nursing until her wedding day.
Formula it is. I purchased the gentle blend in hope that she would take to that better than the regular mix. She gags. A lot. When she eats formula. Awful long, fur ball-type gags. It's terrible.
I'd tried big bottles, little bottles, sippy cups, straw cups, sitting in my lap, sitting in her high chair, me holding the bottle, she holding the bottle. Dr. Seuss could not come up with more combinations of trial and error. and error. and error. and gag.
Then I woke up yesterday, done. I quit. The easing out of nursing wasn't working for us. My sweet babygirl had turned into the boob groping creature that I'd feared when considering the breast/formula options during pregnancy. She had even so much equated "ma ma" with milk. Moo. That was my identity, milk. Yes, comfort and safety, but mostly milk. She's taken to sucking on her blankets (yes, eww, I know) for comfort. She has so equated me with milk that since I've been trying to feed her formula and skip feedings, she hasn't said "ma ma" in over a week. I guess this is good...but it kills me.
She woke up after a long night at 10 AM. She nursed, and then ate breakfast as usual. Then snack. Then lunch. Then snack. Then dinner. All the while, I offered her bottles and bottles of formula. Gag, gag, gag. I reassured her with uber snuggles, much playtime, and full attention for most of the day. I didn't want her feeling like I was abandoning her in any way...although I sort of am.
After fussing trying to go to rock to sleep, I asked my husband to mix one final bottle.
SHE TOOK IT!
As she lay curled in my lap, holding the bottle on her own, curling and flexing her toes like she did for so many nursing sessions. It was everything I could do to hold my sobs of joy and pride and freedom and excitement and a little sadness from shaking her out of her zone.
She drank 2 ounces.
A lovely, wholesome two ounces.
She fought sleep last night. Partly because of a day of off-schedule sleep, partly because of hunger. I struggled with being a hardass and leaving her it cry it out - knowing that she was probably feeling hungry...and abandoned. I have 3 bottles of formula mixed and ready in the fridge (that, apparently, is how I spend nervous energy while she sobs in her crib between rocking sessions).
After 2 solid hours of rocking, and blanket sucking, and uncomfortable breast pawing she was in her crib.
Now, it is 6 AM. Day 2. My breasts are ROCK HARD and sore. I couldn't squeeze them into a normal bra if my life depended on it. I weighed myself last night - and have over 3 lbs of milk sitting, waiting. Ugh.
She goes to day care in a couple hours. I hope to get a bottle in her before we go. Hope.
She's going to be 10 months next week. I don't at all feel like a failure. We've had a great go of it, but now it is time for us to enter into the next phase of our relationship.
And for her to relearn my name.