Breastfeeding, the End: Weaning

As promised, my post about weaning Littlest for anyone who’s interested (informational link at the end of this post).

A few things are worth clearing up before talking about this at all:

  • Littlest hasn’t needed to nurse to fall asleep for a very, very long time. I think he stopped nursing to sleep several weeks before I went back to work when he was 14 weeks old. Nursing during the night has almost always (=98% of the time) calmed him down but he has always unlatched and fallen asleep on his own in his crib.
  • He’s also been sleeping in his crib in his room pretty much since his fourth night home. During those first weeks he often ended up next to me in the guest room for some part of the night, but essentially he’s been a crib-sleeping baby and he can’t even fall asleep if we are in the same room as him.

So why wean? To be honest I would definitely rather have let Littlest come to the point where he wanted to stop on his own. I’ve wondered about weaning for about the past year, thinking maybe it would be okay to stop, but essentially I decided every time that it made our lives easier than not, and also that most of my questioning was due to cultural expectations that I didn’t find valid.

We essentially started down the path to weaning when we got back from vacation last summer and decided to limit him to two or three nursing sessions per day: wake-up in the morning, wake-up from his nap (or whenever he saw me next), and any night wakings. I had gotten a little tired of the on-demand aspect of nursing— and let’s be honest, the French aren’t particularly well-informed or open-minded about nursing (though there are judgy people everywhere), so I was more and more reluctant to nurse him around anyone other than his dad. But at the time this decision was very difficult for me—I had never said no to him for nursing before and I did shed a few tears over it.

So we cut back and I believe (here’s the biological part) this is what set me to ovulating again, or at least getting my period, in late October/early November. By then I think my milk supply had also decreased since his nursing sessions, especially at night, had climbed up into the 30-minute range. Soon after that nursing became painful. (This is all hormone-related.) We tried night weaning but it was a disaster so we made the decision to wait till Christmas vacation when we’d be able to recover from any bad nights. By the time we made that decision, we had already eliminated another nursing session—if he nursed in the night, he didn’t get to nurse in the morning. In that case J would get him up in the morning rather than me to avoid extra tears.

For the past few weeks I’ve been telling Littlest that “nummies” was going to end soon, not yet, but soon, because it hurt too much for Mama. (I also told him that I had loved “nummies” with him up till now.) The word “hurt” seemed to mean nothing to him but once I said “booboo,” he got it. He occasionally points to my chest and says “booboo” and if he sees me getting undressed he says it too, so I can tell he’s made the connection and also that it’s on his mind.

In practical terms weaning meant that the first week of vacation we just night weaned him. He would wake, ask to nurse, cry, be sad in our bed with us, and typically accept some (sometimes lots of) milk from a cup, before eventually going back to bed. I would tell him I knew it was hard and that I was sorry but it was over and he was going to be okay. It lasted about an hour and a half the first couple nights (though J typically didn’t wake me right away and tried to handle it himself before calling for reinforcement). Given the nights at his Mamie’s (Christmas, plus one other night), it took about a week for it to sink in and he’s sleeping through the night now (fingers crossed).

Then a couple days before ending the last nursing session, I reminded him it was coming and explained to him again about the “booboos” but also that he could have all the extra cuddles he needed. He nursed for the last time after his nap three days ago. So far he’s asked for it a couple times but seems to be more or less distractable. I’ve told him I’m proud of him without saying exactly why in order to avoid bringing up a potentially painful subject for him. He has been a little more watchful of me—not letting me out of his sight sometimes and needing more cuddles than usual. But otherwise he is handling it like a champ considering it was not at all his decision. (And as for me, for now I am pumping just a little before bed to avoid creating any blocked ducts. This shouldn’t have to go on for very long but for now I still have milk.) I feel less torn about it than I expected, but no huge sense of relief either.

One thing is sure though, I never tired of the actual act of nursing him. When it was painful it was obviously not fun but the times when it didn’t hurt, it was still fulfilling for both of us.

If a lot of this is foreign to you and you’d like to know more, here is a good article with some basics about the history of breastfeeding in western and traditional societies, and more relevant, weaning—scroll down to “The Process of Weaning.”

The Past Weeks

Small decorated Christmas tree and three stockings hung on a coat rack above it

Well it’s been two weeks which was quite unintentional, but I guess we’ve been busy.

We put up our Christmas tree and decorations. We had a tree for Littlest’s first Christmas when he was 9 weeks old but of course he has no memory of that. He’s been a little funny about the tree, knocking the balls together (they’re plastic, don’t worry) and refusing to let us put the ornament he made with his Mamie on the tree. I have a small gift for his stocking. I’m having some trouble pretending Santa Claus is real but I think I’ll get there.

All of our gifts are done (though now I realize there’s nothing for J’s stocking…) and even my overseas gifts managed to arrive. Just two more days of class and we’ll be on vacation—which also means weaning Littlest. So though I’m not looking forward to that, I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas with him as a two-year-old.

J and I also bought our tickets for a quarter-final match of the women’s Soccer World Cup in Paris next summer. We bet that the US and French teams would finish first in their groups and make it through the round of 16 which means they would meet at this match. Even if they don’t (which tbh would be surprising) we didn’t have much choice given that not many matches will be happening on the weekend. If you’re interested, the tickets are not expensive, and they’re for sale now to anyone who can pay with a Visa card. There are matches all around France.

Other reading:

Independence, Kansas: Une étape pour Laura Ingalls

The Instagram of Sisyphus

The Past Week

My parents left yesterday after a little over a week with us, taking care of Littlest during the day and hanging out with us some nights. At this stage of toddlerhood it’s pretty fun to see Littlest grow in his interactions with them. My mom is teaching him “I love you” in sign language which he’s pretty into and he’s getting better at saying everyone’s names.

We took advantage of their free babysitting to go see Grand Corps Malade who was performing in town which was wonderful. He is a performer who I’d never really listened to until I heard Au Feu rouge from his latest album a few months ago.

My parents gave us a new fold-out chair-bed thing for our guest room for Christmas, and it should arrive in the next few days. I combed the web to find something bigger than a single bed but small enough to not take up the whole guest bedroom and chose this one from Maisons du Monde… I hope we like it once it actually arrives. It will be broken in when my mom comes in January which I’m really excited about. J will be in Paris for two weeks of training and I was not excited about handling that alone (not to mention he won’t be here much the weekend in between those two weeks) even with the offer of help from my mother-in-law. 

The other sort of exciting thing that happened is that I celebrated Thanksgiving (ten days late) with the same group I’ve been celebrating with for the past 7 years. This year Lidl had turkeys in stock so I bought one and was in charge of roasting it and it was a success if I do say so myself—which wasn’t all that sure of a thing given that the oven we were cooking it in has no temperature markers or even number markers of any kind.

My beautiful turkey

No links list this week other than this NYTimes article about George H W Bush’s relationship with the town where I grew up and where he’ll be buried. I have indeed been to his library/museum (like everyone who lives there) and it is worth a visit if for some reason you’re ever already in the area.

The Past Weeks

Okay it’s been a little while. I’ve had a lot of evening meetings at work, found a gym class to go to on a weeknight after Littlest is in bed, dealt with a lot of routine medical care (dentist! podiatrist! etc. it’s boring), and found some cool stuff to take Littlest to on our Wednesdays together. 

My parents arrived last Friday and so we are having as much grandparent time as possible. They’ll be taking care of Littlest this week.

Without going into details (because they’re very biological) it looks like we’ll be weaning Littlest over this coming Christmas break. We’re waiting for vacation in order to be able to recover from what I anticipate to be difficult nights. I am impatient for it but also have no desire to go to work after dealing with a crying toddler for hours. I may write about this on its own once we’ve done it (if we do it as planned, you never know, there could be some surprises).

In other news we are also looking forward to some more or less certain trips in 2019. The first one would be a potential trip to Ireland with my family next summer and the second, more certain one, would be a trip to Texas with Littlest, J, and J’s parents next October. Both would/will be really exciting.

How Spies Use Disguises (Wired): This was fascinating.

The Fleeting Magic of Scholastic Book Fairs (Atlantic)


A Week in Rainy Pamplona

J’s favorite cliff site is ten minutes outside Pamplona in Spain, and he used to go every Christmas vacation (the climbing season there is October to March). He also used to sleep in a tent in the village playground (so, not Pamplona) or on country roads near the cliff. But it was always very, very cold in the evening so at some point he gave that up. This year we packed up Littlest and his aunt and rented an apartment on an AirB&B-type site a 15-minute walk from downtown Pamplona.

Unfortunately the weather was pretty terrible but the two days that Littlest and I stayed in the city without J and his sister, we still managed to have some satisfying walks around the historic city center.

Pamplona is really very pretty and walkable. We took the elevator/funicular to get up to the city center from the exterior, which is something I was unaware of before. I think we had always driven in and parked right near the main square. J and I managed to get pintxos and beer one afternoon with Littlest in tow.

Otherwise Littlest and I made the most of all the amazing Spanish playgrounds. They really are better and more numerous, at least than in Poitiers. There was even this one with an area for very small children:

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We spent two days at the cliffside with J and his sister who tried to make the best of the terrible weather.

 

The Past Week

Okay so I’m not actually going to write about the past week because we were in Spain and I plan to write about that on its own.

The first week of vacation though was a little rough since Littlest seemed to think that turning two meant NO MORE NAPPING. So on the days he refused to nap I had to give up on the things I had planned to get done and spontaneously take him somewhere. One day we went to the Vallée des Singes which was really fun for both of us and I hope to go back to spend a little more time there. I also managed to get Littlest a haircut so he’s even cuter than usual, and went to see A Star is Born so for once I feel like I’m in on a cultural phenomenon. I have to admit though it disturbed me and I did lose a little sleep over it.

The coming weeks are going to be fairly packed with evening meetings up until my parents come at the end of the month. We are also looking for a toddler-friendly destination less than a three hour drive from here (ideally no more than 2 hours) for next summer, so if anyone has any ideas…

Speaking of ideas: 10 Must-Have Books for 2-Year-Olds

The Past Week

We’re now on our two-week fall vacation, though it didn’t feel much like fall till this morning when I realized I needed to turn the heat on in the house (62°F in Littlest’s room which is often the coldest, though ours seemed to be giving it a run for its money). Things started off Sunday with his birthday party where he got many, many exciting things. We have nothing planned this week since there are really no activities for the under-threes during the vacation, so we’ve been mostly taking walks. Especially yesterday when Littlest didn’t want to nap (see, possibly, the aforesaid many new toys).

Saturday J took Littlest to the rock climbing gym for the day so I got a day to myself to go to the osteopath (hmm, ouch) and the hair dresser. I also stopped in at Jardiland and discovered that ALL the cute decorating things are at Jardiland. For instance: I’d been thinking of trying out this simple sink scrub on our kitchen sink nightly, but didn’t know where to get a jar for it.

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Here’s my new sink scrub. I straightened and brightened this picture on my phone but somehow my computer didn’t pick up on it.

Turns out Jardiland has all the jars, as well as fridge dry-erase boards which is something we spent weeks looking for last year before buying online. They also have essential oils which is practical. And it’s a fun place to walk your toddler around on a Sunday morning. (Btw we live right down the street.)

And here is a glimpse of our walk, which consists of a few very charming little houses and alleys and a few dreadful buildings right next door.