Or, as the case may be…un-wean. To eventually re-wean again.
This week Teddy has been ill. Unhappy, sleepy but unable to sleep through…not eating because his throat hurts. I suggested to the doctor and she wholeheartedly agreed, that I should start offering breastfeeds throughout the day again as Teddy needed it to settle him & provide nourishment as he was off his food. This has now increased to include during the night as well.
I just wanted to jot down my thoughts on our experience thus far, as partially weaning Teddy is something that I had struggled with (he has always had - I was going to continue - a feed first thing in the morning & last thing at night). I have thoroughly adored nursing our little son as he has grown over the last year. Not yet a toddler but oh-so-close. Still my baby.
It wasn't plain sailing from the get-go. We struggled with tongue-tie (snipped very early on, about 10 days I think) and saw the lactation consultant twice in the first two weeks as latching problems meant agony for me at each of those long, early feeds. Luckily, we did not have any ongoing problems and once we hit the 8 week mark we were well and truly on our way to breastfeeding success. I loved the freedom and ease of it. I loved the quiet snuggle time with my baby boy. I loved that it was our special relationship and I'll admit (quite the control freak here) - I loved the control it gave me over what I was putting into our baby.
Of course, we had low points. Those growth spurts that meant non-stop cluster feeding from lunch until bedtime. I have been dairy free since he was about 14 weeks old. The odd slip has meant days of explosive nappies and mother-guilt galore. As my favourite foods - every type of cheese - are made solely of dairy, it has been tough. Oh-so worth it.
Once we reached about 8 months and Teddy was still not making it through the night without feeding, we night-weaned. Well, from bedtime until about 4 or 5am. We went to Scotland and we un-night-weaned. We returned and just before his first birthday we were only feeding during the day…rarely deviating from our 5 feed routine.
Friends and family began asking how much longer I intended to nurse. I would smile and be noncommittal. He doesn't seem keen to stop, I would say. So I think it will have to be gently done over time…
Teddy turned one and we hired a nanny for a few mornings a week as I returned to study. I slowly dropped the after-morning-nap feed over a week or so, with no dramas. He started daycare some weeks later, for two days a week. Over the next week we dropped the post-afternoon-nap feed. This was the tricky one. I was still feeling reluctant about weaning in general (I saw it as a necessary evil as I was no longer his primary carer 4 days a week) and Teddy would ask for his afternoon nurse. He'd crawl over to my lap and pull at my top a little. No, not yet - later, I would say gently. You are a big boy now. You can have lo-lo later. Off he would go, play for another 10 minutes then try again. After a week he stopped trying. I was happy and sad and undecided all at once.
For about a month we have been blissfully snuggled against the cooling air first thing in the morning and calmly settling before bedtime at night. Our new routine is lovely, I feel it was time to cut back a little. Teddy doesn't miss it.
Until this week. Now we are feeding more than ever and my awe at being able to sustain my little one through his illness increases every feed. He is recovering and I am beginning to feel apprehensive about starting the weaning process again. First the night, then the morning, then the afternoon. Of course, when he is not with me he doesn't miss it - so our wonderful nanny and daycare won't have to put up with a sad or grumpy or hungry baby. It is during our afternoons and days and nights together where I will summon up resolve I am still unresolved about having in the first place...and say a gentle no.
It has been a wonderfully amazing and spectacular journey over the last 13 months. The next month or so poses a new re-weaning challenge. In the meantime, I will look forward to morning snuggles and nighttime cuddles as the days cool and the nights have me wanting a little body on my lap before bedtime.