Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pregnancy Led Weaning: My Experience Nursing Through Pregnancy

At the one year mark, Baby Boy was nursing four times a day: wake-up, before or after 2 naps, and before bed. Right after his first birthday, we found out that I was pregnant again. Almost immediately nursing became a lot more painful for me and by 6 weeks I had developed severe breastfeeding agitation. Basically every time I nursed Baby Boy, I got really annoyed and was praying for him to be done. It also coincided with the onset of nausea and lasted for about a month. I did not make any effort to wean Baby Boy though because we were on our many trips and in my mind he was still so young.

When we got back home, and just as Baby Boy was turning 14 months, I decided that as we dropped his morning nap we would also drop that nursing session. It was definitely accompanied by some guilt on my part but went well. For about a week after we dropped that session, Baby Boy would ask to nurse right around his old nap time, but I just offered him a snack instead and after a while he stopped asking. Luckily, by this point the agitation on my part had stopped and it was not that uncomfortable to nurse.

I had always assumed that by the second trimester of pregnancy my supply would dwindle and that Baby Boy would naturally wean, but I was thrown for a loop! By 16 weeks my milk had changed into colostrum (or some transitional milk) with no intermediary supply loss. The result was very loose stools on the part of Baby Boy, and bowel movements going from a regular once a day, to 5-6 times a day! This alone was reason enough to motivate me to drop our last middle of the day session.

Since nap time was usually around 1:30 p.m. Baby Boy had just had lunch, so a nursing session was really just a matter of habit and not a dietary need. One day, I just laid down with him and cuddled before his nap and he easily started falling asleep. The next day we did the same thing and within a few days, that nursing session was all but forgotten. Our loose stool situation stabilized at 3 times a day, still more than I liked dealing with, but much more manageable. At this point, nursing became completely comfortable again, and I was prepared to let Baby Boy nurse morning and evening as long as he still wanted to.

But then around weeks 18/19 my supply took a major dip! It really frustrated Baby Boy, and I felt so sad when he would cry after a feeding because he wanted more milk but there was really nothing there. We continued until 21 weeks with our morning/evening sessions. Baby Boy then got sick and just wanted to be cuddled all the time. He wasn't necessarily asking for feedings though and so I decided to move on to the No Offer/No Refuse method; if he asked for it I would feed him, otherwise I wouldn't be offering it.

We continued at twice a day until week 23 or so (16.5 months). M was usually getting Baby Boy from the crib in the morning, and while he was always really thirsty for water, if he didn't come to our bedroom, he didn't ask for a feeding. We were down to one evening session and it was just a matter of time. About a month later when Baby Boy was 17.5 months and I was entering my third trimester, M started intermittently taking over the bedtime routine.

All in all, it was about a 4 month process to get down to that one last feeding. I definitely have some guilt about taking the lead on the process, because I think the kiddo probably would have continued for several more months if the situation had been different. But with a baby on the way, and all the other changes that were coming up in the following months, I just couldn't fathom tandem nursing. In retrospect, all the initial struggles were SO SO worth it, for a nursing relationship that could not be replicated or replaced in any way. The bonding, comforting, and ease, that seemed like bonus features to me when we first started (over the nutritional benefits) are something that I came to cherish, and they will be on my mind as I embark on the journey with Baby Brother. 

*When I first wrote this post, I thought it was the end and that by 18 months Little Boy would be weaned. That's sort of laughable now, and hopefully I can come back with another post on the next part of our journey. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Long Time No Blog...and this is why

This is probably one of the longest blogging breaks I've taken in a few years. No, I'm not pregnant. Yes, I am busy. Life with two is just a lot right now. Not too much, but a lot.

Our schedule looks something like this:
7- Baby wakes up, try to coax back to sleep, fail, get up
8/9- Toddler wakes up, dress, feed, try to eat myself
10-1 Do stuff: errands or housework or playing in the house, hopefully Baby takes a nap at some point which is quality time activities with toddler, maybe eat lunch depending on how late/how big breakfast ended up being
1/2- Put down toddler and baby for naps, Baby wakes up after an hour then have quality time reading and playing, in my "free time" I eat lunch and start prepping dinner or making other food staples
3/4- Toddler gets up, go for walk to park or just play outside in common areas, sometimes one more Baby nap
5:30/6- M gets home, hand off kids, make dinner, eat
7- M takes Baby to bath, I finish dinner with toddler, M takes toddler to bath, I put baby to bed, I put toddler to bed
9- Chores: usually cleaning up dinner, doing dishes, folding laundry
10- Time to unwind even though I should really go to bed because Baby still has several night-wakings, generally spend at least 20 minutes figuring out food for the next day, then answering emails, anything else I need to do...
Midnight- bed, finally

It's World Breastfeeding Week- so a happy week to all the lactating mothers out there! It's a wild ride but one so very worth it. I'm going to try to post a little more about this since I have been nursing now for over 25 months, yeah.

Related to the above- I am making everything from scratch, or almost everything. This is a) because Baby Brother still has MSPI so for practical reasons there's just a lot I can't buy, b) I've been reading a lot about environmental/ecological toxins, GMOs, epigenetics and how all those relate to food allergies, c) As a result of the first two, I've decided that even though for years now I have leaned towards green products and clean eating, now is the time to complete the transformation; I'm giving myself a year to figure it all out and turn us into an organic household.

boys enthralled by getting our couches cleaned

So close yet so far away- next summer we are moving! I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited. I also know that it will not be an easy move with the little ones and that my schedule will probably be just as difficult after we move. But it is something to look forward to, and I'm starting a little project to clean up our house- aiming to sell or donate at least one item or group of items per week until we have to leave. We still have to figure out logistically how much we want to sell vs. take with us but we've accumulated so much over the past 3+ years (and nesting through 2 pregnancies, and having two kids) that I need to start sooner than later.

School- We're thinking about sending Little Boy to preschool. I've visited several schools and we have a frontrunner. That said, Little Boy has been showing mixed emotions about actually going. He wants to play with the kids but he also wants to stay home, and he still very much needs his nap. I think we are leaning towards doing it, but I can't say I'm totally ready either.

So that's where we're at. Just a lot going on. I'm going to try to make an effort to catch up on some posts I have pending but even this one took me 3 days to actually finish, so no promises over here.