Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weaning Heartbreak

Poor Sick Boy
I'm up late tonight pumping for the first time in almost three years. We've been quite sick around here and poor Leo has been hit the hardest. He hasn't been sleeping well and has barely been eating - today he even refused ice-cream. I think he's on the mend, but it's still rough going.

Tonight as I was putting him and Zoe to sleep, I was trying to nurse Zoe and she just wasn't interested. As I snapped my nursing tank shut, Leo said, "Can you give me some nurse?" He was laughing as he said it, but not like he was kidding - more like he knew that the answer was no.

He hasn't nursed since August. I haven't written much (ok, anything) about his weaning here because I'm not really thrilled with how it went down. You may have read about some of the challenges I had the first year of Breastfeeding after a reduction (BFAR). Then when he was 17 months old I got pregnant. We nursed throughout the entire pregnancy - through some very uncomfortable soreness and some really frustrating dry spells. It was challenging, but it was important to me to nurse him as long as possible - and I thought it would be helpful to be able to connect with him through Breastfeeding during the transition of welcoming a new baby. I had these very lovely visions of tandem nursing dancing through my head.

When Zoe was born things didn't pan out the way I'd anticipated. I was overwhelmed. Leo was overwhelmed. Nursing turned into a point of contention. He wanted to nurse constantly. He would scream and hit when I tried to end a nursing session. It didn't seem to be a nice thing for either of us anymore - so I made the difficult decision to wean him.

It was heartbreaking. We both cried. A lot. I'm still not at peace with it. Would you like to feel a touch of my heartbreak?  Here is sound clip I recorded from a bedtime in late August.

So tonight, when he sheepishly asked to nurse my heart broke all over again. I asked him if he was being silly or if he really wanted to nurse. He said, "When I was a baby I loved nursing so much."

"Yes, you did," I answered him. "You know, if you want I could make you a cup of nurse." (Nurse is what he calls the action of Breastfeeding, the milk it produces and my breasts - as in, "Why do you wear a bra over your nurse?")  I know nursing is so much more than the milk - but he seemed interested.

He perked up and said, "You can use the pumpers to make me some nurse?" I had pulled out the pump during my pregnancy thinking I would use it - and Leo asked many, many questions about it. I had used the pump A LOT while establishing my supply for Leo, but blessedly haven't needed it this round. Yes, Breastfeeding after a reduction (BFAR) the second time around has been MUCH easier.

I kissed his forehead and promised him I would use the "pumpers" for him. Then he fell asleep with the comfort measure that took the place of nursing to sleep all those months ago - a foot massage. "With your nails, mama," as he requests it. And I take his foot in my hand and I press my nails into the ball of his foot rhythmically until his body relaxes and he falls off to sleep.

So here I sit at midnight by the light of my computer screen with the familiar but almost forgotten mechanical sucking soundtrack of this wretched pump. I hope he enjoys his cup of nurse with his breakfast tomorrow. I hope it helps him fight off this miserable sickness he's battling. I hope he knows how much I love him. And I hope it gives us both a little closure to our nursing and weaning journey.

This BFAR mama is very proud
of pumping four ounces in 20 minutes
after nursing a hungry 9 month
old to sleep


  1. Yep, definitely cried with this one..

  2. So proud of you all.

  3. This post is so thrilling and wonderful.