Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cutting the cord

Oh man. Weaning is hard.

Even though I was totally ready to wean Ellie, had thought everything through and really knew deep it my heart it was time - the actual day when you stop nursing your baby is a heart breaker.

The plan was for Saturday morning to be our last nursing session. Ellie woke that morning and we nursed in my bed and then we had to jump out of bed, pull our pre-made green smoothies out of the fridge, throw our bags in the car and head to the airport for Denver and grandma and grandpa's house. I think - for my family - having this trip planned was exactly the right thing to do. Ian and I tend to over think things and I think if we had been home this week we probably would have doubted the decision to wean and maybe even changed our minds. But being in a house buzzing with family has been great - it's distracted Ellie from wanting to nurse and it's helped me get over the hurt of losing that tie with my baby.

I should say that weaning on a trip made things easier than they could have been, but it wasn't easy. We had talked with Ellie about how Saturday was our last day nursing and I think because we drew attention to it, she became quite focused on nursing for the first couple of days after we weaned. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't said anything. Every time she asked, I reminded Ellie that we were all done with "nummies," that she was a big girl now and that we could always cuddle and hug. I asked her once last week what her favorite part of nursing was and she told me it was "squeezing the nummies." So after we weaned I offered that as an option and she did a couple of times just want to be close to my breasts and squeeze them. But now - just five days after weaning - she already seems to be past needing that.

The hardest moment came the other day when I went to visit an old friend who had her second baby a month ago. Ellie loved the baby and gave her a million kisses and even got to "hold" the baby in her lap for a few moments. When the time came for the baby to nurse, Ellie got upset and wanted my friend to give the baby back to me, so I could nurse her. When she realized that wasn't going to happen, she asked to nurse herself. I let her hold a breast and when she tried to nurse I pulled away. Ellie was very upset and I felt terrible. I had never refused her like that and I didn't like the separation I felt from her. Later that night was the last time she felt the need to hold my breasts and kiss them. Now she seems to have moved on. I am so proud of her. I'm also really grieving the loss of such a special part of our relationship. It's hard to put into words this pride/sadness. I imagine I'm experiencing a small taste of what it will be like when she leaves home 16 years from now.

One of the most unexpected difficulties with weaning has been figuring out how to understand and manage two diets instead of one.

First, I have to admit there is one very big pro. When Ellie takes a turn for the worse - like she suddenly has an attack of reflux - I only have to think about what she ate that day. It is a huge relief to not have to mentally go over ever morsel both she and I ate. That is huge.

But it has been a big challenge for me to even conceive of myself as separate from her. I still hold onto that hypervigalance where I want to grill a server about every ingredient in a dish or wonder whether something was sauteed in olive oil or butter. It's hard for me to get it in my head that it's OK. My body is not key to managing Ellie's health anymore. It's a hard thing to let go.

I have expanded my diet in tiny increments. The first night I had a steak. Oh, it was so good. Then I had a glass of amazing Pinot Noir. Then a raw cacao truffle (or three). Last night I had potatoes. This morning I ate eggs.

For four days I was allowing myself to eat things that wouldn't kill Ellie if we decided weaning wasn't going well and she needed to start nursing again. I had been hesitant to add eggs because that felt like I would really be cutting the cord, since she is allergic to eggs. Last night I was contemplating eating a piece of orange (Ellie is sensitive to citrus) and I said to Ian, "It's over, isn't it?" He said, "Yep, I think it's over."

So I ate that piece of orange, and then an omelet and somehow that was the final step in weaning. I don't feel quite free yet, but I do know it's over. Which is a wonderfulandsad thing.


  1. Ah bless, makes me want to cry. I remember it well when I was nursing Oscar and managing all of his allergies too.

    It is so emotionally hard to give up but the physical and diet benefits are a small bonus.

    Thanks for replying to my first post. I will get back to you soon.

    Savour that glass of wine Annie! Every cloud......

  2. Oh wow... that has to be tough. I'm still nursing my 21 month old (and he's quite adamant about it!!) but fortunately I'm not dealing with allergies. Kudos to you for handling the situation so well!! Big hugs,