Thursday, April 22, 2010

Working Mother: Weaning

So, we're sort of weaning.

I say "sort of" because there's no plan as such, we're not going cold turkey and we're trying to fit it into our lives, which sometimes means feeding when perhaps we don't need to.

For a while now I've been meaning to follow the La Leche League advice of "Don't offer, don't refuse" but on work day mornings this always seems too hard. I just want to feed her and then get on with getting ready otherwise there's a chance she'll decide she wants to feed when I'm sitting in the car and about to drive off. Technically, it shouldn't really matter as by then I'm out of there and it's someone else's problem. But there's nothing worse than leaving your child crying in someone else's arms.

There have been a few mornings when she's had breakfast and then either asked for a breastfeed (using her milky sign) or I've just given her one out of habit and to avoid the aforementioned situation. Which, incidentally, has never actually happened other than in my head.

Yesterday, however, I decided to risk being late and just see what would happen if I didn't offer her a feed. We were sitting having breakfast and Toby's mum was putting Phoebe's lunch bag together. Phoebe saw her get her milk ready and indicated that she'd like some. She drank about 1/3 of a cup! And then she didn't ask for a feed. So I went to work without giving her one.

When I picked her up she'd just woken up from a nap and was quite refreshed. I gave her a rusk to chomp on and she was quite happy until shortly after we got home and she started to fret. She has a funny cry that she makes that's a cross between her excited laugh-noise (she also makes this when we're hunting for Diggedy, her favourite toy, or when she's just about to brush her teeth) and the milky cry she had as a newborn. She just kept making this noise, and, trying to follow the LLL advice I kept saying "Use your signs, Phoebe. Tell Mammy what you want." She was obviously getting frustrated so in the end, knowing darn well what it was that she wanted, I fed her.

Still, I was proud of the fact that we'd missed our morning feed. She didn't have a bedtime feed that night either, which is quite normal for Wednesdays as I go to Zumba and Toby gets her ready for bed.

Then last night, she woke at 1.30am and asked for milk, using her sign this time. I fed her and she still played up a bit but I went back to bed and she settled after a minute or so.

This morning she asked for milk again so I fed her before work. I'd already slept in and ended up being almost an hour late. This work thing is really starting to become hard but I'm scared to resign because we'll be poor.

Anyway, the weaning thing will obviously be a bit up and down - on Monday she asked for milk at lunchtime and had three feeds! There are clearly going to be times that she wants a bit extra and there'll be times when she's tired and frustrated and won't ask for it properly so I'll have to effectively offer it to her. And there'll be times when I'm tired and not thinking straight and I feed her when I probably don't need to. For example, this morning I could have offered her milk from a cup before breastfeeding her.

But yesterday was the first time she'd ever had just one feed in a day. If you can really count it as only being one, given that she woke in the night. And, if it makes me late for work or tired, well, they're just going to have to deal with that then, aren't they?

I'll miss our breastfeeding relationship. As I've said before, it's so special and intimate and is unique to a mother and her child. It's one aspect where a mother can't be replaced even if she's at work and other people are looking after her child. But I think it's about time for us to let it go. We're settling into our work-daycare routine (even if some days are harder than others), she's 14 months, which is a great length of time to have been breastfed, especially as it'll probably be another few months before we've fully stopped. Plus, some days she just mucks around and I think she just has the feed out of habit. I suspect by the time we actually stop I'll be more than ready. And hopefully, so will she.

No comments: