I'm officially calling it. After 17 months of breastfeeding, Agatha is weaned. Whew! I have not nursed her for two full weeks as of today. Aw, that actually makes me a little sad.
My original breastfeeding plan was to make it six weeks and see if I wanted to continue. When I made it to six weeks, I set a new goal of 12 weeks. Then six months. Then a year. Then I thought I would let her wean herself or wean her at two years.
However, I am now 15 weeks pregnant with Baby Number Two (yay!) and I was feeling very anxious about possibly breastfeeding for FOUR years straight (two with Agatha and two with the new baby). I decided for my own sanity, I needed to work on weaning Agatha. I had also heard that some pregnant women who are nursing an older child start having nursing aversions during the middle of pregnancy, and I did not want to experience that. Nursing aversions can be anything from feeling itchy or uncomfortable while your child is nursing, to feeling actual anger at them while they are nursing. It is not a reflection of how you feel about your child or anything like that, just another weird thing the human body does.
At the time I got pregnant, Agatha was only nursing 3 times a day. In the morning when she woke up, when I got home from work in the afternoon and before bed. After doing some research, I decided I did not want to cut off all nursing sessions at once, but wanted to take it gradually. I chose to eliminate the afternoon nursing session first.
The first few days were tough. I wasn't even able to sit down, because she would come up and sit on my lap and immediately ask to nurse. And by "ask to nurse" I mean paw at my shirt and cry. I would tell her, "No, we aren't doing that now." I learned to have a snack ready for her as soon as we walked in the door and to have plenty of other distractions readily available (such as books to read together or toys to play with on the floor). After about a week, she showed no interest in nursing when we got home.
I wanted to give Agatha plenty of time before eliminating the next session and I wasn't sure which I wanted to tackle next. I thought the night one would be easiest, since sometimes she only nursed for a minute or two, but I really wanted to get rid of her long, leisurely morning session, which usually took place while she laid on top of me in my bed. I knew the morning one would be the hardest for her to give up, so I decided to stop offering the night session next.
Eliminating the night session was extremely easy, I don't think Agatha even noticed. She may have turned to me the first night and asked to nurse, but after that she never tried again. We just read extra books and went on with our bedtime routine.
The morning session has been the hardest to stop. She would not nurse for a few days and then nurse for three days straight, then skip a day. She seemed extremely crabby the days she didn't nurse and I just wanted the mornings to go smoothly. Agatha has also been an early riser, and Chris and I have kind of let her be our alarm clock. Chris would normally start his day while I laid in bed nursing Agatha for however long she decided to that day. I wanted to start a more regular morning routine (and hopefully get her to sleep longer) but I didn't want to make the rest of the day harder.
A few weeks ago my parents came to stay with us for the weekend and Chris and I slept on an air mattress in our living room. In the morning, Chris brought Agatha out to me and I nursed her for a few minutes and then laid her between us and gave her a pacifier. Agatha stopped using pacifiers (except for car trips) about 4 or 5 months ago, but I thought it might give her some comfort.
That was the last time I breastfed her. Our routine now is to bring her in our room and let her cuddle with me (usually laying on top of me (and usually with her hand down my shirt, to be honest)) while she sucks on a pacifier. After about five minutes of cuddling, I roll her over between us, where she usually sleeps for another hour or so. She doesn't get the pacifier at any other time of the day. I have tried to not give her the pacifier in the morning, and after about 60 seconds, she goes for the breast. So we are not at the stage where I can cut out the pacifier yet.
I do think in another few weeks, she will outgrow the need to cuddle in the morning and will sleep longer in her room, but for now, I am happy.
With that said, I am a little sad that our breastfeeding relationship is over and I do feel a bit guilty that it was my decision instead of letting her self-wean or waiting until she was two. I know plenty of people will say that I breastfed her for an incredibly long time, but I did think I would do it a little longer. However, I did need a break and needed to have my body back to myself for a while. Or at least, as much to myself as I can, since I am currently growing another human inside me.
So....Yay, me! Yay, Agatha! Yay, boobies!