Monday, October 19, 2009

Weaned

Well, I turned 30 last week. The big 3-0. It was hands down the best birthday I've ever had. My family, friends, and co-workers spoiled me to no end. My husband truly outdid himself and surprised me with a really fun gift and then threw me a little bowling party with some friends. It was a blast. I was not really bothered by entering this decade because most of my friends are already there and I keep thinking it's better to feel like the baby of the thirties than the old lady of the twenties. Turning 29 was probably weirder for me.

Anyway, the birthday has only been half of the drama in my life lately. Two weeks ago I started weaning Annabeth. Here's the whole story if you care about this kind of thing.

Annabeth had gotten good at taking an occasional formula bottle late in the summer, but by the time we got home from our Wyoming trip she refused it. Jackson had done the same thing at the same age and didn't take a bottle again until I weaned him at a year. I was really bummed to be repeating that scenario. I craved the flexibility of being able to give her a bottle if I needed to.

Annabeth had not been gaining weight properly and had fallen in her percentiles at her 6 month appointment. The doctor didn't tell me to start supplementing, but she did say to watch for certain signs that she might need it. So I watched and hoped that everything would be fine. What I knew was that Annabeth had never been a super enthusiastic nurser and was very easily distracted by everything going on around her. She wouldn't put in the time she needed to get her fill. In my mind, I had always sort of thought she would be weaned in October, but once she refused the bottle I put it out of my mind. At the Aggie football game she slurped down a bottle of water and I realized she might be open to the formula, too. I didn't rush into it though.

Our drive home from Irving two weeks ago was hard. Annabeth whined much of the time and I kept thinking that my baby girl was losing some of her sweetness. She had been a lot harder to please and was grumpy much of the time. I began to worry that she was too hungry. Plus, she'd just been to the doctor over those hives and I knew she'd hardly gained anything. As soon as we walked in the door, I gave her a bottle. She sucked it down and then was in the best mood I'd seen her in in a while. On one hand I was thrilled to have my happy baby back, but on the other hand I felt horrible that she had been so hungry.

The next day I supplemented her feedings with bottles and her mood continued to improve. That was twice as much work and I quickly decided we were only going to do one or the other. Nursing was obviously not working anymore, so that meant it was just time to wean her. Over the next week and a half we started dropping feedings until we were down to just one. I learned a couple of things during that time. One, bottle feeding is really sweet too. We were still snuggling a lot. Two, you can't really multi-task because it takes two hands. Three, bottle feeding gives you a lot more freedom, but there's a trade off because now I'm doing a lot more dishes.

One thing I discovered when Jackson was a baby is that you seldom know when something is "the last time." On the first day that I only nursed Annabeth once, I knew we were getting very close to the end. But I had no idea how long my milk would last. So that night I nursed her in the dark in our big pink chair and completely took it in for the last time. It was a very sweet moment as we said farewell to that aspect of our relationship. Not only that, but since we are not planning to have any more babies, I was saying goodbye to what has been a very big part of motherhood for me. I didn't cry or anything. It was just one last, sweet time for us.

I'm so glad we had that time, because for the next few days she fought me when she nursed. She'd do it for a few minutes and then cry and push me away. I was really only doing it so I wouldn't have to pump. (I haven't touched my pump since May. I hate that thing.) The last time I ended up nursing her was Thursday night. So I guess she's been weaned for four days now.

I weaned Jackson when he turned one and I remember being very emotional and tearful because of his birthday. This time would be a breeze, I thought, because I wouldn't be emoting over the birthday. I took everything in, but I was not going to let myself go overboard emotionally. I took my thoughts captive and didn't go there.

Nevertheless, last Tuesday I absolutely crashed. It started off with a crying meltdown when I had to clean the kitchen that morning for the third time. Then I couldn't stop it. I kept crying all day long. I left emotional messages on two of my friends' voicemails. I consciously said to myself that I felt like a teenager. That is NOT a good feeling. It was like Super PMS. Then I started suspecting that it was tied to weaning. So I looked it up online and found that when your body suddenly stops getting prolactin from nursing (which gives you warm and fuzzy love feelings), it freaks out. The symptoms are like major PMS. I even found two testimonials of women who said they felt like teenagers again. Ha!

I didn't have another day like that until yesterday. I felt like a nutcase. Then I discovered that I was experiencing the post-weaning hormonal craze with actual pre-menstrual syndrome. FUN TIMES, Y'ALL! But I lived to see today and my husband still loves me.

Weaning is done and now I just get to enjoy having more freedom and seeing my petite baby girl gain some weight. I am not taking that for granted. Nine-month-olds are supposed to be in that adorable, roly poly phase. We have two weeks to catch up! I'll probably have to talk about this at least two more times before the week is over, so consider yourself warned.

63 comments:

VanderbiltWife said...

I'm kind of glad to know that it's normal to have weaning meltdowns. I knew it must be something. I am in a very high-stress situation anyway right now, and I weaned my daughter about 3 weeks ago. I have been a MENTAL CASE for two weeks. I think it's finally starting to wind down. Hallelujah!

Thanks for sharing your story. It's always helpful to hear.

Marc and Charity said...

I'm really glad you wrote this. One, because I'm having a horrible, hormonal, freaking-out day and I don't really know why...well maybe I kind of do. Second, I am considering weaning Addison early and was feeling sad and like a loser. She does not need to gain weight, but she is only nursing 4 times a day and I think my supply is way down and she is so distracted too, I feel like she is not getting anything. I'm thinking she will be weaned by the time we get home in December...which means I'm one step closer to that weekend in Houston. I'm really sorry this is a super long comment.

Jennifer said...

Nursing is one of my favorite things about a baby and I am hoping that I will be able to do it longer with this one. With the first one I was so desperate to bottle feed after her not eating well and sleeping well that I did not even savor the last nursing feeding. I, like you, will make sure and do it this time.

RN and OSHP said...

I know exactly how you feel! My 3rd baby is 7 months old. Around the 5 month mark he wasn't gaining weight and was so grumpy. The doctor suggested supplementing and we did. He was so much happier. He graually decreased nursing until, like you described he would cry and push away etc. I never got that "last" time because it all just happened over time and eventually he was just weaned. I felt sort of sad and a little guilty but it is so nice to have a happy baby!!

Kelli said...

Oh Amanda it makes me feel so much better to read this. I was a BASKET case when I weaned Caroline. So glad to know that I wasn't reverting to my crazy teen years!

So sorry that you had to go through the roller coaster of emotions, but glad to hear that Annabeth did a-ok!

Terri said...

My baby is 6.5 and has been weaned for over 4.5 years. Nursing is one of my most favorite parts of having babies. I miss it. Moving on to a new stage is always bitter sweet... and even more "exciting" when hormones are involved. Blessings!

Charlow Family said...

Thank you for posting this! I have not started weaning yet, and I had never heard of the post-weaning emotional freak out phase. Now I know what to expect, and can warn my husband. ha! And, you gave me the idea of writing about our last nursing session in her baby book, so I can remember the sweet time we had together. I'm sure she'll be grossed out by it when she reads it though :)

gillian said...

I am so gld you shared what you've been going through! My daughter will be 10 months old this week and I've been pumping twice a day at work, only to produce 2, 4 oz bottles which just isn't enough. So I've introduced formula to her for the two feedings she's away from me and I'm afraid she's going to wean herself from nursing when we're together. So now I know what to expect, better yet I can prepare my husband (if that's even possible) for what's to come.

Jesse and Lacey said...

It was so good to read this post and hear that you are still getting some good snuggle time with Annabeth. My baby girl is almost 6 months, and I am going back to work in 1 1/2 weeks. My supply seems very low right now and I am dreading pumping at work. I have seriously been considering going to the bottle. It is just a hard thing to decide - just mama guilt, I guess! Thanks for sharing your situation - it always helps to know you aren't the only one!

jenmom said...

I kinda get where you are at this point in time. Although I haven't nursed JennaBeth since she was 8 weeks old (she's 8 months now), I have "mourned" to a certain degree each "last" thing. It's actually been really hard. She is our third and our last baby and I guess it just makes me sad some days.
So, I totally understand! I'm soaking every moment up too, because they pass way too fast.
Jennifer

Cheri-Beri said...

After I had my daughter, my hormones went nuts. I never had an ounce of pms. Now it's so bad I find myself praying for menopause. 40 isn't too young for that, is it??

Team Shirey said...

I can SO relate. My (now 13 month old) son, who was a great nurser, weaned himself overnight when he was 10 months old. I was a hormonal mess. I'm glad weaning went smoothly for you. I stop by Baby Bangs often, but have never commented. Thanks for your blogging! It's often an encouragement to me.

Megan & Corbin said...

I read your blog regularly and this is my first time commenting. I almost broke down reading your post! My almost 10 month old is not gaining weight like he should (though my pediatrician is not concerned) and I have been considering weaning him so I can have peace of mind that he is getting enough and so feeding time is a happy time (he also fights it like Annabeth). We go in for a weight check tomorrow, but I think supplementing is probably the best step for now! Thanks for sharing!

MEGAN said...

Happy 30th Birthday! Were you sad that you had your last set 'baby bangs' too? It's nice hair from here on out girl!

Leslie said...

We've been supplementing with formula since Michael was a month old and he wouldn't stop crying at his portrait session. The photographer suggested formula in a roundabout way. I, too, felt guilty that I'd insisted on nursing only to have my baby go hungry. He's such a happier baby now. Michael isn't even 4 months old yet, but I know from pumping at work that my milk supply is low. So this is a good reminder to savor those feedings because I don't know when a nursing session will be the last.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I'm laughing as I leave this comment, because hor-moh-neys are the WEIRDEST things, aren't they?

I always weaned my babies so late, I didn't experience the emotional fall-out. (Teyla still nurses to sleep at 21 months, and until I get through the first trimester, this is how it has to be.) But I know the kick of the adjusting-back-to-"normal" horomones.

We women are unique creatures.

tiggerdaisy said...

I had NO IDEA!!! I stopped nursing with both of my babies at 6-7 weeks. Since I had to work, and said work wasn't conducive to pumping, I switched to formula. Both transitioned well, but for the longest time they kept nuzzling my breast (or the breast of any other male or female who was holding them) in search of the sweet milk that just can't be replaced by formula! :)

I'm glad you posted this--I'm really not sure that anyone knows about the hormonal effects that can occur during the weaning stage.

Prayers and blessings,
Rebecca

Holly said...

I understand....4X and now never again. It makes me sad and glad and then thankful--for the doctors told me I could never have children! God is so good!

Praying for you, over the next days, Amanda.

ev102007 said...

Amanda- thank you so much for posting this! I am in the process of sorta starting to wean my 10 month old and I am feeling some of the same things- so glad to know I am not alone and it is not all in my head. My daughter is still in 3 and 6 month clothes, so I know what you mean about looking forward to them getting a little more chunky! What a precious gift to give our little ones but so bittersweet to see them grow and change! Good luck and thank you again for posting this- I needed it!
P.S. I hate my pump too- I'm a working mom though, so take your hate and multiply it by 10! :-)

Marla Taviano said...

I weaned Nina at 8.5 months. Very, very similar story to yours. You are not alone, friend!!

Tabaitha Kaye said...

I felt like crying for you, actually to be honest, I had tears running down my face as I read about your last time nursing Annabeth. With my first child, Mason only nursed until 6 weeks because I had mastitis and it was too painful for me to push thru and continue nursing. I beat myself up about it in the beginning but then I saw how hungry he was and how happy he would be after a bottle. This time around, I have been nursing Taylor for a little over 7 months. She is gaining weight fine, but gets to distracted during her feedings and it seems the only time she really pays attention is her first feeding in the morning and her last feeding at night. Still don't know if I should try weaning her or not, but I'll wait until her next doctors appointment to ask her peditracian.

Anyway, I'll be praying for you this week and I appreciate your honesty in sharing the good times and the struggles.

The Oakes said...

I know the feeling. Love that you took the extra time to enjoy it one night.
When I read that last word of this post I read "weaned" instead of "warned." It was so funny I laughed out loud, how appropriate!

lavonda said...

Amanda, your words brought back such strong emotions inside me... I too had a son, then almost 4 yrs later, a baby girl. When I started weaning her, I knew it was going to be emotional because she was my last baby. It was in Feb, so I planned it that Valentintes' night would be our last one. I sat and rocked her for the longest time and cherished the blessing of that time together all those months.

So glad you've come out the other end of that hormonal/emotional release... I just love how transparent you are. :)

much love,
lavonda

carolinapeach said...

Though it may not help your feelings right now, I can totally relate, and you have helped me see that I am not a lone nutcase! My boy was not happy or full until I switched to the bottle. We have our challenges, don't we? I thank my Lord for a patient husband!

Brittney said...

Congratulations and it makes me want to cry for you. This is my first round of breastfeeding and it is so taxing both physically and time-wise. Soph has not taken a bottle up to this point, though we have offered it to her. She is 7 1/2 months old and still wakes in the night to feed. I am looking forward to much greater flexibility for her and I, but dreading the emotions and more bodily changes. The goal is a year.... Enjoy your new season! She is precious.

The Barfuss Family said...

Thanks for putting this all into words. You're an amazing mom!

Misty M. said...

I weaned both my son and my daughter at one year, but with my daughter I was beginning to think she was just not getting enough to eat. She was a little bit low in the weight department. She eats like a horse now, but is still a little thing, so maybe it is just that she will be petite.
I am glad you said that about the hormones of weaning. I didn't notice it both times, but I probably was emotional and just chalked it up to sentimentality.
I had so much milk for my son (enough for two babies probably!), and then seemed to not produce enough for my daughter, but never had to supplement. I sometimes worry that with this next one (due in Jan.) that I just won't produce enough and we will not get anywhere near my 1 year goal. I hope it isn't too bad.

Happy Birthday!

Sarah said...

Amanda, I'm sorry nursing didn't end the way you'd hoped for! When Addie was 13 months old, she went on a full-on nursing strike, and I couldn't get her to start again. She was only 13 pounds then, and after she gained almost 2 pounds in 2 weeks on whole milk, I realized she'd quit nursing because my milk had pretty much dried up. Poor baby was hungry! Now she's 3 1/2, still only weighs 25 pounds, and it still the pickiest eater ever. So I feel better--it wasn't me, it was her :)

I'm glad you got in one last sweet nursing, and I hope those hormones straighten themselves out soon--feeling like a teenager again is possibly worse than the stomach virus!

Teri~Facedown said...

Awwww! This post brought back such warm and happy memories. I was reading a journal from when I weaned my first child, thirteen years ago, when he was a year old. It was bittersweet. While I was a little sad that that phase of life was over for me and him, I was very excited for his new found independence. He let me know when he was done nursing and I just went with it. It seems like Annabeth did the same thing! :) She is so precious, by the way!

Amber Cessac said...

Between reading yours and Kristy's blogs by the time I have kids I will be a breastfeeding expert.

Lauren said...

I didn't have an experience like yours, but I can so relate to feeling like everything was a roller coaster until Noah was about one. Just the pure unpredictability and the difficulty of it all is hard! God bless all moms!

Also, just for the sake of transparency, Nathan and I had a horrible, huge fight the other day--OVER THE PHONE since he's in Houston--and my pregnant hormonal state just might have had a tiny bit to do with it....

connorcolesmom said...

Bless your heart
I remember those days
Girl I am proud of you
You made it to 9 months nursing
Annabeth that is wonderful
You are a great mom!!
PMS and all :)
Much love
Kim

McSwain said...

Love your post and everyone else's comments. I had the same experience as a previous commenter, my son self-weaned at 10 months. I was a wreck for one solid day and then just kind of on and off. It was so sad and then I felt this big burst of freedom. He also started letting me rock him on my shoulder at night after we weaned. This was a blessing to my hurt little mama soul.
My daughter is now 7 months and so distracted when nursing too. I hope we can go on to a year. She's waking at night too - these are her best feedings! Oh well, it's wonderful to know we're not alone in these things. We are so blessed to experience the joys and struggles of having sweet little babies.

Lisa @ The Preacher's Wife said...

Same experience here. I'd almost forgotten what a raving lunatic I was since I weaned my last 6 years ago. And now, oh I can't believe I'm typing the words, I really believe I'm drying up as a woman at the ripe age of 38. Not that there won't be some benefits to that but I'm not seeing them yet.

Makes me appreciate Eve all over again.

Sarah said...

I don't think I've commented often on your blog, but I really enjoy reading it. My girls are 5.5, 3.5, and 10 months, so the two youngest are similar ages to yours, and I turn 30 pretty soon.

I'm so glad you posted this! I went through this exact same thing last week with my almost 10-month old. I thought she was on a nursing strike, though, and couldn't get her to nurse for several days, so I completely missed out on savoring the "one last time." So sad:(

Anyway, I was a hormonal MESS! I didn't realize that there was so much tied up with nursing. My baby's weaning was combined with pms symptoms too. I wish I realized at the time what had happened. Strange the things I didn't remember from weaning my other babies.

Spicy Magnolia said...

Oh. My. Goodness. Oh. My. Goodness!! Seriously!? There are SO many things I didn't know about the birth process. So many things I didn't know about the hormonal fluctuations after giving birth. And now you're telling me that there are more to come!? *freakin' out!* I'm still pumping for Brennan right now and I'm already starting to get emotional about stopping around the one year mark, if not earlier. But goodness, I'm gonna start praying about the major PMSing when I stop completely! Bless your heart!

FaceforGrace said...

Amanda,

My 5 month old and I have had a rough time nursing since the word go. She was born with little to no suck strength. Which, I'm sure you can imagine, has made nursing next to impossible. It was taking her an hour to get about 2 ounces! Of course, I didn't realize how severe things were or I would have given up long ago. But we kept plugging along- my basically starving her all along. It was horrible. She has been borderline failure to thrive, at 3 months she had gained less than 3 pounds. We have done, and are still doing, occupational and physical therapy to increase her muscle tone. We have done a barium swallow test and that is when I realized how difficult sucking actually is for her. She couldn't even suck from a bottle- It was so sad...she just couldn't figure it out! Luckily, after much hard work, she has finally figured out how to take Dr. Brown's nipple and now has gone from 2 ounce, hour long feedings to 6 ounce, 15 minute feedings!

Anyway, she still nurses some (probably only an ounce or two) because her Pediatrician says its good exercise for her. But I have taken the approach that nursing is now the supplement and the bottle is the feeding. As emotionally draining as all of this has been, I finally realized that my need to nurse fails in comparison to her need for nutrition. And- she has gained 4 pounds in 1 month- finally! As much as I miss exclusively nursing her, seeing her full and happy makes up for it all!

annalee said...

wow, what a week! so glad you share the ups and downs. you sure are a great mom to jackson and annabeth!

Kendra said...

Thanks for sharing your experience Amanda. I've just started solids w/ my little girl and it seems she's growing less enthusiastic about nursing. It was good to read your experience to know that there is no right 'formula' for all of this. And it's good to have a head's up about the hormones...I feel like I haven't cried in a long time but it's probably just the happy nursing hormone :) Squeeze those Annabeth thighs for me!

Geezees Geezees Custom Canvas Art said...

Thank you so much for posting this....this brought me back great memories!

Erin said...

Although I have obviously never weaned a baby, I can totally relate to the hormonal meltdowns. My nerve pain medication for my back/leg messes with my hormones. The first month I was on that medicine was not a good time for anyone!

Lexi said...

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www.sugarandspice4baby.blogspot.com

Bling for the King said...

Although I am older and my kids are as well, (I have one in college, high school, jr. high, and my baby in elementary) I share your pain. I found a book I purchase for all my friends when their kids graduate high school. It is by Karen Kingsbury "Let Me Hold You Longer" is the title. The 'last time' feeling is something that applies to every stage in a moms life as they grow.
Read this book and you will be blessed as you bawl through it it gratefulness.

Michelle and Jenn said...

My son is 14 months, and I weaned at one year. I was a Hormonal Mess! My hubbie didn't know what to do with me. Thanks for making me feel better. Praying for you

Nesha said...

((hugs)) That is what I would give you if I could! Tell Curtis to give you one for me.

I didn't think #2 boy would be it for me, but it is. I still remember having to stop 'trying' to nurse him at 3 months old and go to bottles. I was wrong to think that some connection was lost then. He is still the most lovable thing with all my snuggles at night and hugs and kisses, even in front of his friends at 8 yrs old.

Haley Frederick said...

I'm sad for you... I just got all teary-eyed. I'll be a basket case the day I nurse my last baby.

Kristen said...

E was the same way with nursing - so distracted and way more interested in the bottle by nine months. As hard as it is to wean, it sure does free you up some!

The Johnsons said...

I wasn't able to nurse Liz very long (not a story/comment for your post - you can thank me later), but no one warned me about the hormones. That explains so much! Now I know it's normal when I go through it again with Bladen. Thanks for your post.

Lulu SQ said...

I am soooo right here, right now. I just weaned my 4 month old and as I was reading this I was like "yep...yep...yep, that too...yep" I feel you girl.

Ashley said...

So glad to hear that others had emotional experiences with weaning too; I SO remember that with both of mine when they were little... I felt the happy, guilty, happy, guilty cycle for a while and then just HAPPY because of the freedom and seeing they were smiley and healthy babies! :) B.t.w., loved all the Dewberry pics; ya'll are just too cute!

Laura said...

I agree that 29 was much harder than 30...congrats!

Melissa Sue said...

I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one with weaning hormonal meltdowns! Thanks for sharing your story and encouraging me with it.

My 13 month old son, Lucas, weaned at 10 and a half months totally on his own and switched (with M.D. approval) to cow's milk. I was really glad to have the "freedom," but I was not prepared for the hormonal insanity that would follow. Thankfully, it's mostly gone now and I "only" have to deal with regular female hormonal swings. :)

Lindsee Lou said...

I'm not even close to motherhood, however, I am going to be so much wiser because of your and other mommy blogs. :)

Melissa Stover said...

i'm so ready to wean but i'm having so much trouble getting my baby to take a bottle at all. i never had this kind of trouble with any of the others.

Little Mama said...

I've never commented on your blog, but really appreciated this post! (And your blog, too :) ). Both of my girls had similar weight/nursing issues at about the same age as your sweet girl. It was hard to hear the doctor recommend weaning for me, but I'm glad to hear that others had a similar experience. Thanks again for posting this! Happy Birthday, BTW. The 30's rock :)

Little Mama said...

I've never commented on your blog, but really appreciated this post! (And your blog, too :) ). Both of my girls had similar weight/nursing issues at about the same age as your sweet girl. It was hard to hear the doctor recommend weaning for me, but I'm glad to hear that others had a similar experience. Thanks again for posting this! Happy Birthday, BTW. The 30's rock :)

melanie said...

i loved reading the whole story, since i think we're getting pretty close to doing the same thing soon. it was fun being with y'all tonight. brian & i agreed it was a good thing and we want to keep doing it. it helps when you get to eat with the pastor! ha! anyway, we love y'all and will miss y'all when you leave but hopefully can keep up at midlink.

Lori at The Davidson Den said...

Hang in there.

R said...

you are SO RIGHT! it's so hard to be a mom and not know when those "last times" are going to be. i learned that with my three babies, too.

and i have to say thank you! i bottle-fed all three of my children, and i was so pleased to read the positive things you said about it. i have to admit that i was bracing myself because i mostly hear hatin' on bottle-feeding. i'm glad you're having a positive experience with it!

but you're right--the dishes and inability to multi-task aren't cool. :0)

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

I had post-partum depression kick in when I weaned Maggie, which I discovered is also real common. If you keep feeling like a psycho, start taking lots of fish oil, like 4 capsules a day. It works wonders for the DHA plummet you experience when you wean.

Aside from that, congrats on having your boobies back. :)

Kristi said...

Oh, I so understand! Our baby girl weaned herself at six months...I was so sad only because I know she is our last and it was over so quickly! She had actually been my best nurser, so I thought she might make it all the way to one year. I did survive and she did get much happier (she had started getting a little lean as well). I wish I had had your explanation during that time, though, as that would have explained a couple of days where I felt crazy :).

katiegfromtennessee said...

I'm glad you shared, Amanda:) I am going to try nursing with my little girl, and see how it goes. I've heard too much about how good it is for them. Also, out of all my sisters, I was nursed probably the most, and haven't had many allergies. It's good to be warned about the hormonal changes-need to know about those things. Thanks for warning a girl, esp. one who is emotional anyway:)

katiegfromtennessee

Rachael said...

Hi Amanda! I just read this post after I read what Kelly had written about weaning Haper. I am about to be going through the same thing but not wanting to give it up. My little boy just turned one and I know I need to stop soon. I just don't know what soon means yet. We both still enjoy it and its working for us. Its also sad for me because I think this may be our last baby. I'm not there yet but I hope its a natural process for both of us!