Monday, March 14, 2011


Smush's first birthday is in 10 short days. Does that thought trip you out, too?

This morning, my baby weaned himself. As if on cue. I'm experiencing a wide range of bittersweet emotions over this milestone, but mostly, I'm feeling accomplishment. We did it.

Before Smush was born, I had a goal to breastfeed him for a whole year. I hardly nursed Bubby due to reflux and dairy intolerance, but I hoped this go-round would be different. There were a few hurdles along the way, but it ended up being easier than I anticipated.

Hurdle #1: The early days

When babies are brand new, they love to nurse. All day, all night. Then, they go through a growth spurt and their feeding rate doubles. It's emotionally and physically draining. Not to mention, it can be painful in the beginning while you figure out the best positions and baby figures out how to latch on correctly. There's also that whole issue of what to wear to make nursing easiest, and a solution only comes through trial and error.

Lanolin saved my life. Every new mom needs it. To reduce the risk of drawing total pervs to my blog, I won't elaborate further -- just click on this link if you want to learn more. Also, a good rocking chair and a soft lamp in the nursery is a must. And nursing covers were awesome for me. I found mine especially helpful during the early days when the Smush seemed to be constantly eating and I seemed to be constantly engorged. It helped me be comfortable nursing around friends and family; I didn't miss out on hours of face time by hiding in another room to feed the baby. And good conversation = essential to a new mom. Nothing worse than feeling abnormal during the post-partum phase -- you just want to get back into the regular swing of things as soon as possible.

Hurdle #2: Lactose intolerance

Around 3 months of age, Smush suddenly developed awful, constant, green diarrhea. Sorry for the visual; it is what it is. I could not figure out what was going on. Finally, I relied on my instinct, which told me I needed to go off dairy products for a while and see if that was the culprit. Of course, it was. So, I actually quit dairy completely for about 5 months. That was one hurdle I didn't think I could clear. I *almost* gave up and put him on formula. But this time, I decided to give it a try. How hard could it be to stop eating dairy?

It wasn't exactly easy, but it's doable. There are a lot of great alternative milks out there -- soy, almond, rice and even coconut. I tried them all and thought Silk's PureAlmond, vanilla-flavored, was the best. It tasted especially yummy over granola cereal. I also thought Stonyfield Farms' O' Soy yogurt was delicious, very thick and creamy. As for cheese and ice cream, I just went without as much as I could. Instead of indulging in ice cream, I bought fruit pops for myself to enjoy. And abstaining from dairy forced me to fill up on wholesome fruits and veggies -- never a bad thing!

Once Smush hit 8 months or so, he outgrew this intolerance and I went back to eating dairy, but only limited amounts. I found out it kind of messes me up, too. Who knew?

Hurdle #3: Biting

When Smush started getting his first teeth around 4 months, he wanted to try them out on everything, including ME. Boy, that was un-fun. I learned that as a mother, you cannot allow your children to abuse you. Even babies are not too young to learn biting is unacceptable. When Smush bit me, I'd quickly unlatch him and would not put him back on for a little while. He'd usually cry, probably feeling betrayed that I'd taken away his precious food. Quickly, he figured out biting me meant no more milk and that behavior stopped.

Once we crossed these hurdles, nursing became very easy and convenient. I especially enjoyed it when it was no longer Smush's sole source of nutrition. He demanded less during the day and our nursing sessions became more special. Quiet time for the two of us. We bonded a lot over feeding times. For me, it was forced relaxation -- I had to stop doing whatever I was doing to hold him and feed him. And even when Smush got to the age where snuggling with me became less of a priority for him, he had to cuddle with me to eat. I savored those precious times and I am sure I'll look back on them with fondness.

Over the past month, our bodies have been systematically anticipating this day. He began slowly demanding less and I (consequently) produced less milk -- down to only one early morning feeding per day. Yesterday, he bit me. Hard. He hadn't done that in a long time, so it shocked me. He seemed disinterested and was glad to go back to bed. I got the message loud and clear.

This morning, instead of waking up before dawn to nurse and then going back to sleep until 7:30 or 8, he slept straight until 7. I took it as a sign that he doesn't need it anymore. He's done, so I'm done. We skipped straight to breakfast and went on with life as usual.

It's now noon, and he hasn't expressed any interest in nursing at all today.

So, we made it. Ten days short of a year, but who's counting? Overall, breastfeeding has been a positive experience for me. I definitely plan to nurse my future children as it has been beneficial in so many different (and even unimaginable) ways. I'm glad the hurdles didn't hinder us this time around.

It's been good, Smush. Thank you.


  1. You have such great insights and advice. I will have to remember all these great posts when I get preggo'd!

  2. YAY! Congrats!! it is so amazing to make it to the first year. Oh, and I totally agree...and good comfy rocking chair is a MUST. I didn't have one until baby #5.

  3. This post made me tear up. I am so glad that nursing worked for you this go round and you were so committed to it, what a sweet mama you are.
    Weaning my babies is so tough on me, physically and emotionally. I weaned both of mine at a year. I am so grateful for those special times I had with them, I will treasure those memories forever. There is just nothing like it in the world.
    Good luck! Buy cabbage leaves and sage tea, it really works to dry you up!

  4. I've heard about that cream! I need to get some!

  5. Wow, reading this post made me get letdown twice. Yes I had a baby five days ago, why do you ask? ha. Congrats on making it to one year! Natalie bit me at the end of her nursing and that was the last time I nursed her too. :-)

  6. Aww, congrats! It's not easy nursing, especially for a whole year! Big accomplishment!

  7. You did it!!!! Amazing!!! Only 4 more months for me! I hope we can keep going. I'll be sad I think when she weans though. Weird huh?

    Loved this! :)

  8. Great post. Last month Owen started weaning himself and we are down to just one morning feeding when he wakes up. The first time he refused to nurse at night I cried. I was sad thinking it was over already. I'm glad he's still got one feeding and I'm hoping to get to a year (about 6 more weeks). We'll see. Nursing is hard, but so worth it. I'm so glad I stuck it out in the beginning.

  9. Btw, Owen had green poop for a while starting around 3 mo. I wondered if it was dairy related. The doctor said it could be, but not to worry about it. I didn't go off milk, but I wonder if I had if it would have gone away sooner and he would have been a little less fussy.


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