World Breastfeeding Week Celebration Giveaway
Posted on 31 July 2016
Vida Leche Amor means Life Love Milk. Breastfeeding is not just about the milk - it's a lifestyle guided by love. To celebrate world breastfeeding week, we are hosting a giveaway on Facebook and Instagram. To enter, share pictures, poems, artwork, quotes, songs, and stories that express your feelings about and experiences with your breastfeeding life with your little love. Use #VidaLecheAmor and tag @vidalecheamor on Instagram or @Vida Leche Amor on Facebook, and we will choose a winner to receive a piece from our collection on August 8th.
Here is a story I wrote on March 3, 2013 about my mixed feelings over my oldest son's last breastfeeding session, and a picture of him nursing from around that time.
Self-weaning has been one of my goals since before I had Onyx. Since he had always been an avid nurser, I thought he would be breastfeeding well into his third year of life. I knew we would have no problem reaching the World Health Organization's recommendation that babies breastfeed until 2 years of age and then for however long it is mutually desired. I even planned my current pregnancy to make sure my second trimester, when my breast milk production would change dramatically, wouldn't occur before Onyx's second birthday. Before deciding to get pregnant, I read up on breastfeeding during pregnancy and tandem nursing in anticipation of nursing both children when my newest baby was born.
Onyx was still nursing regularly. Even before I got a positive pregnancy test, I knew I was pregnant because he started running out of milk on each side more quickly. Luckily, that didn't slow him down! Well into my first trimester, I asked Onyx if my "milkies" tasted different. He told me that they did, but quickly commented "Best milkies!" I hit my second trimester right about the time of Onyx's second birthday. Around this time, nursing began to become very uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful for me, due to the pregnancy hormones. I had read in the book Adventures in Tandem Nursing that many pregnant mothers experience frustration or even anger when they nurse their babies or toddlers. I understood that hormonal changes, not the moms, were to blame, in this kind of situation, but couldn't see myself going down that road. Sure enough, in the second trimester, I was very uncomfortable and even angry when Onyx nursed. When he nursed endlessly before bed and in the middle of the night, I had to take deep breaths to calm myself. Some nights, I completely lost it, got angry, and left the room. I felt terrible, and knew that my emotional reaction, along with the changes in my milk supply, would lead him to wean more quickly. I simultaneously felt guilty and happy when this started to happen.
As my second trimester progressed, Onyx nursed less throughout the day until he was only nursing before nap time and before bed. Soon, he completely night-weaned. This was a dream come true, since he had still been waking quite frequently at night time and needed to nurse to get himself back to sleep. He started learning to go back to sleep on his own, or with a quick book, bite of banana, or back rubs. I started practicing the "Don't offer, don't refuse" method of self-weaning. That is, of course, unless he was completely out of control and refused to take a nap. On those days, I definitely offered "milkies" to try to get him to go to sleep! Soon after that, he would nurse one day before a nap, and then not nurse at all the next day. Then, he started going two days between nursing sessions. Some nights, I cried a little because I felt like my baby was growing up. I wondered if he was actually ready for this, and felt a little guilty for getting pregnant and forcing this on him. (Not that he seemed to mind in the least…) Other nights, I was ecstatic that I didn't have to put myself through the discomfort and annoyance of nursing him throughout my pregnancy.
A few days ago, I noticed that it has been weeks since Onyx has nursed. I'm not even sure when the last nursing session happened, but I remember it very clearly. Onyx had taken an early nap, but was still very tired by the early evening. It was a dreary day outside, and I was quite tired too. I held him on the couch and we rested. He surprised me when he asked for "milkies," and I surprised myself by not being aggravated by his request. I settled into a lying position on the couch, and for the first time in months, I felt comfortable having Onyx lie half on top of me and half to the side of me. I nursed comfortably and peacefully and we both fell asleep for an hour. I quietly woke up before he did, and we continued to lay together on the couch, with him still asleep. I felt grateful for this beautiful and peaceful experience, and knew that I would be happy to be able to look back on this as one of our last nursing sessions together instead of remembering a grumpy and uncomfortable nursing session as our last. As if somehow understanding this, Onyx never asked to nurse again.
Part of me is sad that our breastfeeding journey has come to an end, but I am mostly happy that we were able to meet my goals and have such a great breastfeeding relationship. I'm glad that he is secure enough to wean, and our relationship now includes slightly more cuddling that is not "milkies-based" than it did before. Part of me worries that when the new baby comes, he will want to nurse again but will forget how. Part of me worries that I will be upset if we don't have the tandem nursing relationship that I envisioned when I decided to have another baby. Then, I remind myself that the sweet picture of Onyx "teaching" his new brother how to have milkies most likely would have unraveled into a jealous tantrum, which would have been extremely stressful for me while trying to nurse a brand new baby. I don't know what will happen when the new baby is born or how I will feel about it, but I'm looking forward to finding out and figuring it all out as it happens. And I will always treasure the beautiful memories I have of nursing my Onyx for 26 months and look forward to creating new ones when the new baby arrives.