Monday, March 30, 2009

Resolve The Weakness In Me

There's that old homophone joke, "Seven days without [insert beer, sex, barbecue, etc.] makes one week." (Like weak. Get it? Ha.) Well, from my observation, seven days without nursing makes one weak, tired, unstable, and hurty.

I didn't consciously choose last Sunday as my last official day of nursing Mr. Baby. I always thought it would be easiest to begin the full weaning after he'd been away from me a couple days, but then every time we were reunited, I couldn't stand to refuse his pleas and begin our time together with him crying and distressed. Also, although he's been going to bed at night without nursing for a couple months, I seem to be the only person in Memphis who can't get him to nap without it. So as his naptime approached last Sunday, I lay down with him and nursed for, it turns out, the second to last time ever.

I didn't make particular note of his pre-pre-bedtime nursing, although I do remember that we were sitting in Miss M's bed, doing her book-and-story routine. He didn't latch for long, distracted by a board book that looked both entertaining and delicious. I didn't mark the moment as it happened, because I still hadn't fully formed the plan to stop nursing entirely. After Miss M was bedded down, he went to sleep fairly easily and slept through a decent majority of the night, like he had been recently.

Our Monday morning was its normal flurry of activity, with Mr. Baby maintaining a good mood throughout. He reportedly had a good day as well, so when I got home from work that evening, I decided just to try and see how long I could distract him from nursing. I was fully prepared to cave if the need arose, but since we just had a couple hours before bedtime, I thought I might be able to keep him active (and eating) long enough to get through it. And I was. He asked to nurse numerous times, and began to fuss at me when I refused, but I just kept saying, "Nursie's all gone" and found something else to do (or eat) as quickly as I could.

Going one full day without nursing (while still in the same house) provided some momentum for going the next day. If I went back, it was a much bigger reset of the clock, so even when his requests got more frustrated and my body begged for some relief, I kept gently insisting that the milk was gone. And then taking him outside, or going for a walk, or gathering up a pile of books to read. During those days, there was no sitting and relaxing on the couch, or anywhere that he was used to nursing. The minute he saw me in one of those places, he would clamor to get into position. So I stayed on my feet nearly the entire time we were awake and together.

The times we were asleep and together weren't going so peacefully, either. After a few weeks of decent sleeping, Mr. Baby regressed to his pre-nightweaned, restless self. He'd not only wake up and cry, but he began climbing out of bed and trying to escape the room, making it much less likely that he'd settle himself back down. If he stayed in bed, he'd flop on top of me, inadvertently banging his head and knees against my very tender torso.

Speaking of which, and with the forewarning of TMI, my boobs were hurting like hell. So badly that, as I felt milk leaking for the first night in ages, I expected to look down and see blood seeping through the front of my nightgown. We'd cut down to 1-2 feedings a day the week before, followed by a couple days apart, so I really thought my supply would be dwindling. But the factory refused to shut down, and trying to go as long as possible between pumpings resulted in huge, painful knots that felt like gum balls (the tree kind) trying to poke out from under my skin. Even when Mr. Baby wasn't actively yelling at night, his constant desire to put his weight on my body kept me awake and in tears of my own. This sleeplessness and pain, combined with the hormonal cocktail of weaning-plus-ten-day-period (I warned you about the TMI, people), made me … well, let's just say I wasn't my usual cheerful self.

Still, we both made it through Wednesday and Thursday. He took a lot of walks, ate a lot of yogurt, and went to bed as early as I thought could possibly work. I'm rarely eager to spend extended periods away from him, but last week, the Friday-Saturday break was much needed. Despite my repeated excuse that the milk was all gone, I was still producing a piddling but pain-inducing amount.

I was nervous about our reunion on Sunday afternoon. I knew he'd be getting sleepy, which would make him more sensitive. I also had no idea how I was going to get him to nap. It was a very pleasant surprise when he didn't say "Nursie!" within the first few minutes of seeing me, but it wasn't much longer until his sleepiness stirred up ingrained habits. I tried laying down with him, but after a few minutes of hollering, I decided to try walking him to sleep. As we walked out into the sunny afternoon, I felt grateful for the accidentally good timing of spring weaning and the ability to stroller up in times of crisis. He was asleep within minutes.

His nap was brief, but he played happily the rest of the day. Something went weird around dinnertime, though, and he refused most of his meal. He went straight to his bath and then bed, where he went to sleep easily but then fussed and clung restlessly to me the rest of the night, threatening to wake up for good at 5:40am when I generally sneak out of bed to make Miss M's lunch and get her ready for school. He'd already added 6:45am to his repertoire last week, instead of snoozing until 7:45, throwing off the entire household's morning routine. I lay there desperately using my maternal mind meld to urge him to just stay asleep so I could deal with Miss M two-handed. And this time, it worked. So that, I guess, is progress. A miserable night but a manageable morning.

I wouldn't have endeavored to wean if I didn't think we'd both end up the better for it, but for my own sanity and maybe that of anyone reading this who is in the same place, I wanted to write down the reality. It's the breaking of a powerful connection, and the physical and emotional consequences are hard on both sides. It's only been one week, though, and I'm hoping to get stronger soon.


Sassy Molassy said...

You are strong, and brave. I've never been able to work up the resolve for that kind of weaning, and I know I'm lucky that I've never really needed to. You are doing great and I know it will get less painful soon, physically and emotionally.

jess said...

thinking good thoughts at you.
as said above, that kind of resolve is tough, and you have people cheering you on...

Stacey Greenberg said...

you get up at 5:40am?

Sarah Jane said...

You are one good mom.