They've weaned, I guess: the twins are weaned. It happened gradually, and it snuck up on me.
With my first two children, the weaning was cold turkey. This wasn't a good way to do things, for me. Afterward, I had all these unhappy feelings, thinking I'd made the worst mistake of my life by weaning and that I should go back to nursing. I know that must have been hormonal: I don't even enjoy breastfeeding. I do it because it's cheap, it's easy, it burns calories, it lets me sit there reading a book many times a day without anyone being able to say boo about it, and it lets me feel like I'm making at least one right decision out of all the millions of things I feel like I'm screwing up.
But that doesn't mean I enjoy it. I feel trapped and restless in the chair, waiting for the baby to be finished. I hate the cracked nipples in the beginning days: La Leche League says that won't happen if you do it right, but that's just to make you feel like it's your fault if you're not sitting in a sunbeam-ensconced rocking chair feeling the sweet joy of beautiful breastfeeding. It makes total sense that if a baby is sucking the hell out of a nipple many times a day, and if that nipple has previously entertained only brief, gentle visitors, there will be an adjustment period during which some women will experience "discomfort"--by which I mean the kind of pain that makes your baby's sweet rosebud mouth look like a pirahna's maw. I hate the leaking milk, which makes me feel like a damp cow. I hate the lumpy breasts that get increasingly uncomfortable as I wait for the baby to wake the hell up and nurse already. I hate the way nursing makes my breasts feel off-limits to my husband. I hate the way I have to nurse furtively in public, worrying that someone will come up and say something to me about it. I hate the way I'm the only one who can feed the baby.
As the twins' first birthday approached, I started looking into ways to alleviate the bad feelings I got when I weaned before. I found lots of advice about tucking cabbage leaves in my bra, taking Tylenol, expressing little bits of milk, using ice packs. Mostly the advice about lessening the emotional (and also the physical) side effects was "Don't go cold turkey," which I already knew.
Fear and uncertainty kept me nursing them beyond their first birthdays. I cut down to four nursings a day, then three, then two: one in the late afternoon when they were fussy, and one in the middle of the night when they woke up crying. The next nursing to go was the afternoon one; I gave them graham crackers and sippee cups of milk instead.
This left the middle-of-the-night feeding. I worried: what would I do when they woke, if I couldn't nurse them? I'm so tired in the middle of the night, I can't think reasonably about strategies for dealing with crying babies. Nursing always works.
Then Elizabeth stopped waking up most nights. And one night when Edward woke, I felt like I didn't want to nurse him, and I felt awake enough to try other things. I offered him his sippee cup of milk instead, and he took several long drinks from it, and when I put him back to bed he went back to sleep just as if I'd nursed him.
Since then, I've offered the sippee cup to anyone who wakes. Edward is fine with that, as long as it's accompanied by a snuggle. Elizabeth hardly ever wakes.
I feel some hormonal effects, but hardly any. I'll notice that I'm feeling low and sad, but that's all. No feeling as if I've made the worst mistake of my life. No wondering if I should go back to nursing. No leaking milk all over the bed during the night. Really, a vast improvement.
For those of you who breastfed babies, how old were they when you stopped? Do you have any excellent weaning advice to impart? Has anyone tried the cabbage leaves in the bra? Because that sounds interesting, but no way.
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