When we last left off, I had made the decision to stop nursing K. We were down to two nursing sessions daily, and she had started to think it was hilarious to bite me over and over again while nursing. My self-imposed deadline for weaning was Christmas, and as Christmas came and went, I began to mentally prepare myself for the inevitable.
Here were the facts:
- K was 16.5 months old, and had been nursing once or twice daily for the last 4 months
- She was getting all of her nutrition elsewhere; she’s a great eater
- She loves to drink water, and was having plenty of wet diapers even without nursing
- I couldn’t take her biting me anymore – she thought it was a game, and it was extremely painful.
With that being said, on December 29, we had our last nursing session. She bit me and laughed, which confirmed my decision. Later that night, when she asked for milk before bed, I said, “No, the milk’s all gone,” and redirected her. She yelled, and tugged at my shirt, but ultimately got distracted by her Sleep Sheep, and snuggled up to fall asleep. If the entire weaning process was going to be this easy, I had nothing to worry about.
That night, K woke up screaming. I made sure to pull on a heavy sweatshirt before going into her room (out of sight, out of mind?), but still she pulled and tugged at my shirt, chanting, “Mama, milk, mama, milk,” over and over. I sat with her in her rocking chair, told her that the milk was all gone, and that it was time to go to sleep. She whimpered a bit, but fell asleep after some singing and back-patting.
I woke up in the morning slightly engorged, but nothing really painful. (Full disclosure: K favors the right side, and had only been nursing on the right for the last few weeks. As of ‘Weaning Day,’ the left side was almost entirely dried up, so I was dealing with one-sided weaning). When I got K out of her crib, I knew we were in for more of a fight than the previous night. When I told her the milk was all gone, she launched into full-on temper tantrum. She threw herself on the floor and screamed, kicking and pounding her little fists. She tore at my shirt, stuck her hands into my bra, and demanded milk. Thankfully, since we started this whole process over Christmas break, J was around to serve as distraction. I ran to get in the shower, while he distracted her with toys and breakfast. For the time being, the fight was over.
For the rest of the day, we played the game of distraction. I layered on the clothes to make sure she couldn’t see (or reach) my chest, and we opened all sorts of her new Christmas toys. We had her favourite snacks on hand, plenty of water, and even got some chocolate almond milk as a special treat. And though we had a few meltdowns (as she realized that chocolate almond milk, while delicious, wasn’t nursing), it went fairly well. I wasn’t as painfully engorged as I expected to be; I was definitely full, and my boob(s) felt bruised, but a little time with a heating pad seemed to do the trick. I was careful just to hand-express a little bit when I got uncomfortable; I didn’t want to prolong the drying-up process. I took decongestants and drank peppermint tea; two remedies recommended for drying up milk a little faster.
The following day was New Years’ Eve. For the first time in three years, I wasn’t pregnant or nursing full time, so I looked forward to a few drinks. It helped that I was at work on New Years’; being away from me all day certainly helped K forget about nursing. She went to bed easily, not even asking for milk. And when she woke up in the middle of the night, a little singing did the trick; she didn’t even ask to nurse. I continued with the decongestants and peppermint tea, and was still sure to keep my sweatshirt zipped all the way up. Though still tender, my chest wasn’t as hard or painful as before, and I knew that we were getting close to the end. Everyone I talked to reassured me that it would take about a week or so to dry up completely.
We’re not out of the woods yet (as of this writing), but I can report that I’m only feeling a little discomfort. K has only asked for milk once in the last 24 hours, and was completely content with my ‘no’ and her water bottle instead. That might have been the worst part for me, to be honest. When she asked for milk, but was content with her plastic sippy cup instead of her Mama…that was the definitive ending point. 16 months ago, when we were nursing around the clock, I couldn’t imagine a day where she wouldn’t need to nurse. And now that its here, I’m feeling a little sad. Incredibly proud of our journey, but sad that my little girl is grown up enough that nursing isn’t a part of her life anymore. Soon enough, when she’s forgotten about milk, I’ll be able to steal those snuggles back; and I’m sure that will make up for it.