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Riding the hormonal rollercoaster to weaning

Suzanne Barker Augustyn

This week marked a major milestone for my toddler and I as our breastfeeding relationship came to an end.

It was a long time in the making and was a gradual, mutual process, but it’s still taking a toll on me. Not physically, but emotionally. Basically, I’ve been a weepy mess since the weekend.

I’m guessing it’s a mix of the usual pregnancy hormones, with a dash of weaning roller coaster, and an exhausting overactive toddler all rolled together. But whatever it is, I can’t wait for it to stop as I’m not sure how many more nights I can cry myself to sleep without my husband thinking I’ve gone off the deep end.

Sometimes people will ask a new mom, “When/why did you decide to breastfeed?” For me, it was never a conscious decision that had to be made. It just… was. And once we’d started, the question changed from “Why?” into “How long do you plan to keep it up?"

I usually told people that my initial goal was just to get it to work. Period. And when we succeeded with that, I set my sights on 6 months. At 6 months, we set our sights on a year, and at a year, I stopped setting goals and decided instead to take it one day at a time. As long as it continued to work for the both of us, I saw no reason to set an arbitrary stop date. And while we’d met the minimum 1-year the AAP recommends, we still had the WHO recommendations of “at least 2 years” off in the distant future. And, then of course, the Tina Fey reminder that, Mothering magazine suggests you nurse the child until just before his rehearsal dinner.” (har har har)

Eight months after Poppy’s first birthday, we were still a happy nursing pair when I found out I was pregnant. I immediately surfed over to KellyMom for advice and ordered a copy of the only book I know on the topic – La Leche League’s Adventures in Tandem Nursing – and read it cover to cover. And although 2+ years seemed like a laudable goal before I got pregnant, the idea of a toddler still doing her nursing acrobatics in between nonstop newborn feeds sounded daunting. And exhausting. And downright terrifying.

So here we are.  6 weeks shy of Poppy’s 2nd birthday and marking a big transition in our mom/babe dynamic.

As much as I’m sad over the change (OMG! My baby is growing up!), I can’t say I’m not also simultaneously thrilled. After all, after nearly two years of being physically attached to my kiddo in some capacity, I am officially untethered. Of course, I’ve now got this new being attached to me via umbilical cord, but at least this one sleeps through the night and doesn’t dirty diapers. Yet.

With this next babe, I think I’ll approach the new breastfeeding relationship in much the same way I did the first time. I’ll prepare as much as I can, hope for that little bit of needed luck, and take it all one day at a time. When Boo arrives in February, we’ll be back to square one, starting small again with the simple goal to Get This Started and see where it goes from there. After all, although Ms. Fey and I had starkly different early mothering experiences, we do agree on one important point – “You must find what works for you.”

How did you make the decision on how to feed your newborn? Was it a conscious decision on your part? If you chose to breastfeed, were you and your babe able to meet your personal goals? If so, what or who do you credit with your success? If not, what do you think could’ve helped?

Follow Jo on Twitter at @outtajo or visit her personal blog, Outta Jo, Onto You.