I should preface this by saying: my kids have both refused bottles. The most AM ever took by bottle while I was at work was about 2 oz, and she was over 9 months old at the time!
My breastfeeding goal was 18 months. With my oldest, my goal was 12 months, and we made it to just shy of 14 months before weaning with no fuss. This time around, I decided to split the diI fference between AAP’s recommended minimum and WHO’s recommended minimum. We decided that 18 months was a reasonable goal and set out to achieve only that amount of time.
Shortly after this decision, I felt very strong that I needed to donate milk. I worked to bring my supply back up… and up it stayed. Even after AM turned a year old and I stopped donating, I continued to have full and leaky breasts for months.
Between feeling touched out and my struggles with a postpartum mood disorder, I was counting down to that 18 month mark. It came and went without even a small change in nursing. Whereas I had been down to two breastfeeds a day with NJ shortly before she weaned, AM was still content to latch on around 10 pm when I got home from work and stay attached all night.
I started experiencing nursing aversions. I hated breastfeeding. It was an icky, angry feeling that often made me feel tremendous guilt. I knew that breast milk was still good for her, still biologically normal. I’d donated my milk for months and never felt as irritated with my pump as I was getting with my toddler. It was bringing back flashes of rage, which was my major symptom of postpartum depression.
I had to be done. So, about a month after I had intended to wean, I sent DH up camping with both the kids and I stayed home. I weaned cold turkey. I iced my breasts every few hours at work the next day, wore cabbage in my bra when I got home, took a decongestant to help dry me up, and got terribly engorged. I tried not to touch my breasts, but I did massage out clots, hoping to avoid mastitis.
I made it through the 3 days they were gone, my breasts finally softening and drying. AM pulled at my clothes daily, signing please and asking for “bobbies”. I gently refused her, snuggled her, and gave her water or cow milk.
Then the teething started. She cried and cried and wouldn’t calm down. She wouldn’t eat or drink and just kept begging for her bobbies. In desperation, I gave in. She dry-nursed for 45 minutes and finally fell asleep.
I thought we were weaned. But a few days later, I gave in again. And again. Her molars really gave me the run around.
I also thought she was still “dry-nursing“, until my husband got a surprise one night while we took some adult time.
My milk was back.
My rage returned, although not as severely. I swore her off the breast again. Right when she learned to ask for “mewkies”.
Great. Just what I need. She’s even cuter about it now.
-my internal dialogue
I gave in again. She’s now 22 months old and still breastfeeding (occasionally). My feelings of nursing aversion have mostly dissipated and we’re in a happy place. I don’t know when she’ll finally decide to be done, but I do know that sometimes life surprises us.
And milkies have served her well.
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