February 27, 2015

The end of a very sweet era

I officially weaned Claire from nursing this past Sunday.  I've been slowly weaning her since she was 11 months old.  She has always loved to nurse so I was worried it would be a difficult thing for her to let go of.  At 10 months I was nursing her 4 times a day (about every 4 hours).  At 11 months we cut down to nursing only 3 times a day, once in the morning, after lunch, and then before bedtime.  At 11 1/2 months I cut her down to nursing only two times a day, first thing in the morning and before she went to bed.  Claire actually did much better than I expected she would.  She didn't ever want nurse more than I offered and seemed really content with cutting back.  The whole time I was nursing her I always thought I would wean her all the way when she turned a year old.  However, when her first birthday came I was still nursing her twice a day, and I didn't feel like either of us were ready to be done yet.  I decided I would continue nursing her for another month or two and just kind of see how it went.  
     This ended up being such a good decision because Claire was sick almost the whole month of January and part of February.  She got a really bad cold, ear infection, and then was getting really high fevers of 103 for about a week for no apparent reason (but possibly from teething).  She has slept through the night since she was basically 4 months old but when she got sick she started waking up around 3 a.m. when her tylenol would wear off and her fever would spike again.  The only thing that would help her go back to sleep was nursing.  
     A couple of weeks into February she finally started feeling better and started sleeping through the night again so I decided to cut down to nursing her once a day in the morning.  She still loved her morning feeding and it was always the first thing she wanted to do when she woke up.  I woke up Saturday feeling a little sick, but I still nursed her in the morning after she woke up.  A few hours later I got hit full force with a case of the stomach flu.  After throwing up all day Saturday and again Sunday morning I was so sick I had no energy to get up out of bed when she woke up.  I had Bryce get up with her on Sunday and he just took her out to the kitchen and fed her breakfast.  Once she got some food she was fine and didn't even seem to mind that she had missed her morning feeding.  Monday morning came along and I was finally feeling better, but had only eaten crackers and sprite in 48 hours so I wasn't even sure if I would even really be able to nurse her.  I decided not to offer it to her and just take her out to the kitchen and feed her breakfast like Bryce had the morning before.  I was a little sad because I hadn't actually planned on weaning her but the stomach flu just kind of made it happen.  Even if I wasn't ready I felt like Claire was and decided it was time to officially wean her.
  When I was pregnant with Claire I was a little apprehensive about nursing.  I had read a lot about all of the great benefits of nursing and really wanted to nurse, but it still seemed a little weird to me.  I wasn't sure if I would really like it let alone enjoy it.  When Claire was born nursing did not come very easily in the hospital.  Claire was so tired and neither me or the nurses could ever get her to wake up enough to nurse.  I was also experiencing the stress and fear of having paralysis in my legs still, more than 24 hours after delivering Claire.  The doctors were trying to figure out why I couldn't move or feel my legs yet and they had no idea of when or if I would be able to walk again.  I remember a time on the second day in the hospital after trying to nurse Claire I just started crying.  The lactation specialist had been in trying to help me get her to latch properly and stay awake long enough to nurse but Claire had no interest.  The lactation specialist patted my shoulder and said it was okay, that we could let her get some sleep and try again in a half an hour.  I swaddled her up and had my mom who was with me place her in the bassinet.  I was crying from frustration, fear, and I'm sure lack of sleep.  I remembered telling my mom maybe I should just formula feed her.  I didn't know what I was supposed to do if I wasn't able to get out of bed and if I couldn't walk.  I was thinking of how much help I was going to need and thought it might be easier if I just did formula so other people would be able to help feed her.  My mom said to do whatever I felt was best.  After a good cry I recomposed myself and decided not to give up yet.  I had to leave and get an MRI done but decided when I came back I was going to nurse her successfully and keep her awake for the whole feeding.  After my MRI, I came back and had Bryce get me all situated with Claire so I could nurse her.  I successfully got her to latch and was able to keep her awake long enough to nurse on both sides for a full feeding.  I'm sure my determination played a tiny part of it, but I really feel like it was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father.  It was exactly what I needed to give faith that things would be okay during my hospital stay.  After that feeding nursing just kind of clicked for both of us.  Claire started nursing great every two hours and I loved getting to be the comfort and sustenance she needed.  The next morning I was able to feel and move my left leg again so I was fitted with a walker and was able to be discharged that evening.  Even though there was still a lot of uncertainty about my recovery I felt confident in being able to take care of Claire and provide what she needed.
     After that nursing became an incredibly special experience.  I felt like it helped create such a special bond between us.  I loved getting to cuddle her and stare at her perfect little face.  I loved that as her mama I was the only one who could take care of her that way.  I loved everything about it.  I loved that every time I nursed her was reminded that being a mother was the most important work I would ever do.  It gave me the motivation and conviction I needed, especially on the hard days.  Although I hadn't actually planned on Saturday being the last time I would nurse her I do feel like it was time and that she was ready.  We officially reached the end of a very sweet era.

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