Wednesday, June 11, 2008


With G's first birthday in the past, and the boobs still on the loose, the inevitable question has come up - when will I stop breastfeeding?

I have remarkably mixed feelings about the whole business. I think I need to post this largely to help me sort things out. Sometimes writing down my thoughts helps me to make sense of what I'm thinking. Sometimes not, but we'll hope for the best here.

I don't think I'm game for the whole "child-led weaning" scenario, in the sense that I'd be happy to keep breastfeeding G for as long as he wants and let him control when we wean. I don't think that would happen soon enough for me. I don't exactly have a cut off of when I'd like to be finished, but I also know I don't want it to go on for a lot longer. Does that make any sense? Like I don't particularly want to be nursing when he's 2, but what about 14 months? 15 months? 18 months? I don't know.

Having said that, there is that tiny bit of guilt at the thought of me leading the weaning process because I want to be done, not because he seems ready to be done. I know, I know - breastfeeding is great as long as it's working for BOTH mom and baby. When it applies to other people, I totally believe that. But there's this little part of me that can't quite get over the notion that I should let him nurse as long as he wants - because, you know, so many health organizations throughout the world advocate breastfeeding until at least age 2, yadda, yadda.

The thing is, I'd really like to have my body back for a little while before I go and get knocked up again. I don't even know if I could get pregnant at the weight I'm at right now, and I don't know if it's going to be possible to lose a lick of weight until I'm done nursing. I'd hoped that when he cut down some it might get easier, but I'm still not losing. In fact, I've gained back about 5lbs (which sucks royally, but is entirely my own fault) and I'm fighting just to get back to where I was a few months ago. It would be really nice to have some time to focus on getting my body in the best shape possible to have another successful, and hopefuly fairly comfortable, pregnancy.

My other thought regarding weight is that I can't help but wonder if the birth control I'm on (as in, the mini-pill) is contributing to my lack of weight loss. Is my weight being so stubborn because of nursing, or because of the birth control I have to take while nursing? Does it really matter? I can't take any other type of BCP while nursing, it would be ridiculous to get something like an IUD since we'll be trying again sooner rather than later, I don't want to leave it up to chance (or barrier methods, since I KNOW we'd be super lazy about using anything else), so I'm pretty much stuck. As long as I'm nursing and preventing, the weight thing sort of is what it is.

And the more I think about it, the more I realize that a lot of my desire to wean is stemming from how I feel about my body. I'm not loving how I look right now. Yes, it could be (and has been) worse. But as summer approaches, warm weather brings out things like capris, tank tops and (gasp!) shorts. At least when the weather sucks I can layer and wear long sleeves. It isn't that I hide under huge, baggy clothes all the time, but you know how much less forgiving summer clothing can be.

I caught a glimpse of my reflection this afternoon in our sliding glass door and I wasn't exactly thrilled. I'm 20lbs too heavy, my tummy still looks like it did when I was about 15 weeks pregnant (at least) and my boobs are too big and saggy. It's hard not to think about how, if I weaned soon, my breasts would (hopefully) go back to a semi-normal size, I could ditch the nursing bras and go back to wearing good bras that actually put the girls up to where they need to be, and I might have a shot at losing the rest of this weight and feeling better about how I look.

But then, what on earth will weaning actually be like? I nursed my first, but he solved the problem for me by abruptly stopping nursing at 10 months. That wasn't at all how I'd wanted things to go, but it's how it happened, so I never had to actively wean. This time around I'm so unsure of what to do, how to proceed, and perhaps most importantly, when to start doing something about it.

I want it to be as smooth and painless for both of us as possible. I'd like to slowly decrease the number of regular nursings until we just stop altogether and it's no big deal. I'd love to be able to tell people later that it was easy and he seemed ready - no trauma at all.

However, right now I feel completely incapable of making any moves towards doing that. He is nursing less than he used to, but that's all him. I nurse him whenever he seems to want it. It's usually only 4, maybe 5 times a day, but still. There are certainly days (like today) when it's more and the thought of even just keeping him to the 4 or 5 is hard. When I pick him up and he's fussing and tugging on my shirt and I've tried everything else - he clearly wants to nurse. I'm not ready to deny him that, to limit nursings - let alone try to cut any of the regular ones out.

But if it's going to take a while to accomplish, I have to start sometime, right? I just don't have any idea of when that will be.

I'm a planner. I like having things at least loosely planned out. I'm flexible enough to change my plans when necessary - but that just means having a new plan. With nursing, I have no plan. I don't have a time in mind when I feel like I should start limiting nursings, then start cutting down on them. I couldn't tell you if that will start happening next month, or the month after or six months from now. And that makes me uncomfortable. I wish I could just be content with how things are now; be happy that he nursed this long and be comfortable to just go with the flow. But I'm too much of an overthinking planner to be content with that. I want to be able to tell myself that in X months I'll cut down to three nursings, then in X months down to 2, etc. But that would require an end date, and I don't have that. It would require admitting that I want to actively wean, and committing to a course of action that will make it happen - and risking that I'll feel guilty and sad when it's over.

I'm just not sure what to do. So often I wish I could just temporarily shut down the part of my brain that insists on having things planned out; that I could enjoy today for what it is and stop focusing so much on the future. The times I'm really able to do that are when I have a plan. Because once I have an idea of how things will go, I can (somewhat) let it go and wait for said plan to take place.

It's a good thing my husband doesn't read my blog; he'd really realize how insane I am.

(who am I kidding - he knows.)


Jessica (squawky) said...

((HUGS)) I'm a lot like you, in that I like to plan, too. I'm nearing the end of weaning DS, and I did pretty much the same type of weaning with DD. If you want to know what I did and what the experience was like for me and my babies, just let me know. It's been a relatively painless transition for all involved. :)

Jessica (squawky)- again ;) said...

I wanted to add: in no way am I trying to rush you to wean anytime soon, or before you're ready. Just wanted to offer some experience/support in the area.

Claire said...

Thanks Jessica! Actually, I'd LOVE to hear about your weaning experience and how it has gone - shoot me a PM on the message board when you have a second. Thank you!!

Mandy said...

There are times a crystal ball would really come in handy. In my experience, not knowing when the end would be was hard for many of the reasons you mentioned. In fact, you might remember that Em was actually down to a nursing session a day before that flu bug came and knocked us all for a loop. To get to that point I had basically done some experimentation which other ways to comfort her and really paying attention to hunger vs comfort, etc. That helped me determine which sessions made sense to examine closer to see if they can be eliminated. She wasn't going to look at me and say "you know, I think this one could go" but looking closer helped me see which ones were still important to her...the rest we gradually let go. When the time came for weaning once and for all, it was a similar approach and generally (other than maybe one or two upsets) it was pretty painless physically and emotionally...for both of us.

I read a lot on different approaches and then went with my gut. I think that's all we really can do, and it never hurts to ask around.

No matter what, I'm here to support you.