A few weeks back, I found myself lamenting (not for the first time) that Finn and I still lacked a nursing schedule. By 5 months, Leni and I had an established routine locked down. Finn just turned 15 months and it’s still a bit of a free-for-all. It’s been on my mind to put some more boundaries in place so long that I’m only addressing it now that I’m ready to wean off the day. On the very odd week the little guy wasn’t struggling with a cold or a new tooth, we nursed four times a day (morning, morning nap, afternoon nap and bedtime). That was a good day. And a routine, I grant you. The rest of the time (aka most of the time), however, I found myself caving. A missed nap? Nurse him. Has a tumble? Nurse him. Might be teething? Nurse him. Runny nose? Nurse him.
Understandably, our lack of schedule was becoming really confusing for the poor lad. And I wasn’t sure it was in his best interest to rely so heavily on my chest for comfort. When I wouldn’t relent, he would get really frustrated (I was so inconsistent!), sometimes screaming and/or tearing at my shirt or he would shove a pudgy arm down my cleavage. I often couldn’t sit still without him pawing at my shirt. It was becoming a battle of wills. And I was proving no match for my toddler’s persistence.
Anyway, as you can tell I was feeling a bit weighed down by the state of our breastfeeding relationship. So one day recently I finally decided then and there to drop one feeding. When I put Finn down for his first nap a few minutes later, I read him a book (as usual) and sang him a song (as usual), but instead of nursing I offered him some water and then put him down in his crib sans milk. He wasn’t pleased, but he only cried a little before settling down. Not much different than a typical day really.
And you know what? He barely complained outside of the occasional attempt to lift my shirt. So I’ve switched to high-necked tops for a few weeks and have distractions at the ready. Snacks and sippy cups are my best friends right now. He’s even started taking a small amount of warm cow’s milk in the afternoon after his second nap.
It’s actually been so nice for our relationship. We can just sit together and read or enjoy a cuddle without nursing. If he’s upset, a simple hug will do.
After a couple of successful weeks, we stopped nursing before his afternoon nap too. Fast forward a few more weeks and it’s going surprisingly well. I’m in no rush to wean him from bedtime and morning just yet, but gone is the all-you-can-eat buffet. Thanks be. I’m just so relieved and grateful it went this well, frankly. When I was trying to figure out how to cut back, it just felt like this impossible insurmountable thing. And then I remembered that sometimes you just have to take a leap and see how it goes.
Our bedtime and morning routine feels even more precious now. Transitions like this are good reminders of just how fleeting these times with my kids really are, even if they feel so all-encompassing in the moment. There’s a good chance Finn will be the last baby I nurse and I feel very grateful that we’ve been able to get this far together.
Thanks little bug.