Our Weaning Journey

We returned from our vacation in the wee hours of the morning on November 26th. From the 18th-25th my boobs had been hard at work. Because of how overwhelming the trip was for her, the constant heat and being on the go, and the lack of interest in solids during the trip, some days I felt as though I was breastfeeding around the clock.

As soon as we were back home, I turned to my husband and told him I was done. I couldn’t do this anymore. 14 months of breastfeeding is a long time. I think when we initially sign up for breastfeeding, we don’t really realize how much of ourselves we are giving up. We give up sleep, we give up personal space, we give up comfort, we give up privacy, we give up the whole of our bodies. Read that last one again, for people that don’t fully understand how taxing breastfeeding can be: we give up our whole bodies.

Breastfeeding isn’t solely about your breasts and the milk they provide. It can affect your hormones, and in turn your mental health. It can affect your weight, your energy levels, it can affect your appetite. There are so many other things, and I think for those people on the outside looking in chanting “Breast Is Best!” at women, they don’t fully comprehend just how much of a journey it is. There were so many days where I breastfed so much that my whole body just ached (surprisingly enough, my nipples were the only thing that didn’t). There were a lot of days I would be completely fine and then I would just suddenly start crying and be unable to stop for hours.

Breastfeeding is a lot, and it really opens your eyes to the true strength of a woman.

Long story short, after a week of being a constant buffet to my very picky and emotional child, I told myself that this was it, this was the end of our Breastfeeding journey. For my sanity, it had to be.

When I reached out to other moms about my weaning journey, I was bombarded with an endless stream of questions, rightfully so. When I started weaning I had so many questions and so little answers. I thought this needs to be a blog post. This is information that can be so helpful to other moms out there who have attempted weaning time and time again and failed because they didn’t know where to find the right answers.

How I Weaned My Daughter Off Breastfeeding In 10 Days!

Okay, first things first, buckle up and prepare for the worst. My daughter has always been a little diva. She is sassy, she is stubborn, she is a force to be reckoned with, so of course, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. That being said, never in my wildest dream would I ever imagine it would be so hard!

The first thing you really need to do to be successful at weaning is Come Up With A Set Schedule And Stick To It Come Hell Or High Water!

My daughter was an emotional feeder. What that meant was she would breastfeed when she got scared, when she was overwhelmed, when she hurt herself, any minor inconvenience in her life and she would come over and practically rip off my shirt. This meant a lot of days she was comfort feeding almost every hour or so.

My schedule was pretty simple. In the beginning stages of weaning, I would breastfeed her once when we first woke up, once in the afternoons before her nap, and once before bedtime. Outside of these set times, the shop was closed!

One thing I will suggest before you decide to wean is pump and stock up. If your child is like mine and acts as though you are trying to murder her as you wean her from breastfeeding, in the beginning, she/he will only accept breastmilk out of the bottle. Don’t even try anything else, it will just be way too difficult.

I think it’s also important to note, for other parents who have been introducing whole milk or other beverages to your child before weaning, that I found her being familiar with milk already made absolutely no difference. I had been giving her whole milk in places I couldn’t breastfeed, like in the car, since she was about 7 months and she still refused to take milk (even though she had taken a full whole milk bottle before) while weaning. She was too emotional and it was just a no-go.

What I did was keep a bottle handy with a small amount of breastmilk in it. Typically speaking, breastmilk before refrigerated can last about 4 hours out of the fridge. This is why I would only leave about an ounce out in a bottle because in the beginning, it was such a battle and I didn’t want to be throwing out so much unused milk. If you’ve been breastfeeding steadily, you will need to relieve some of that pressure by pumping outside of those times anyway, so I typically kept freshly pumped milk out in a bottle for her.

On standby, I would have a full 5oz bottle of breastmilk in the fridge. (Keep in mind you can’t microwave breastmilk.)

My days would start with a small breastfeed before she would have her breakfast, and while she was eating or playing I would pump out the excess milk, divide it into the two bottles, put the full one in the fridge and the 1oz bottle I would keep on hand because I knew when she got bored or upset, she would come looking for a feed.

Typically getting her to take the bottle was a battle every single time for the first three days. If your weaning while your child is fully mobile and can reach for you or pull your shirt down, I would suggest wearing a high neck, a fitted t-shirt during the first three days and even go so far as also wearing a sports bra underneath to make sure they are completely inaccessible. If my daughter even caught glimpse of my nipple she would completely lose her mind.

Most of the first three days will, unfortunately, be letting your child emotionally tire themselves out before they take the bottle because they have no more fight left in them (at least that’s how my wonderful weaning journey began).

This is going to take a lot of your strength, I know it did for me. My daughter became a completely amped-up version of herself and got quite violent with her tantrums. Typically a tantrum for her is lying down somewhere on the floor in view of me. She would press her forehead to the ground and cry before rolling onto her back (fake crying, mind you) and she would randomly lift her legs and slowly bring them down. It honestly looks a little bit like hilarious, emotional yoga. When we started weaning, she became obviously frustrated with the whole thing and started lashing out.

She would try and pull at my shirt and when I kept pulling her hands away and offering the bottle her frustration would peak and she would transform into this adorable little monster. Don’t let her cuteness fool you, she would pinch, slap, try and bite me. Honestly, my living room was the octagon and there were no rules in this match.

I personally think (although a lot of moms I have spoken to about this have disagreed) that it’s best to provide comfort during this time to help them with the transition. Comfort was important to my daughter because that was why she breastfed so often. It was a comfort thing to her, much like a soother would be to another child. So to take away breastfeeding and also take away the comfort she needed in that time and let her cry-it-out by herself was something I knew just wouldn’t work emotionally for my daughter.

I needed to get her used to the routine but also let her know the comfort she needed from me was still there. So, I would pick her up with her back against my chest so she couldn’t hit, pinch, or bite me, and I would walk laps around our living room while counting softly, or singing. Usually after about five minutes or so she would calm down and it was time to repeat the process all over again.

Moms, let me tell you, this was a lot on me emotionally. I cried a lot, I lost my patience, I was frustrated and angry. Emotionally and physically, I was completely spent.

The most difficult part of the whole weaning process is feeling like you’re losing that bond with your child that you’ve build breastfeeding. It’s hard to go from being their favourite person to someone they may try and lash out because they don’t understand what is going on and why things are changing.

Emotionally I was a wreck, and my days were a tornado of tears, milk, and exhaustion.

The guilt was weighing really heavy on me during this whole thing and I found myself doubting my capabilities as a mom and whether or not I was fully up for the task.

After the third day, I eliminated the morning feed and kept her busy in the morning. If your child likes something else (mine loves water), I would fill their favourite cup with this and let them have that while they eat breakfast and play and you can pump. Typically I kept my daughter busy with Super Simple Learn videos because she loves to count along or watch the ABCs. (This company is super great and I absolutely love their videos. You can watch them for free on YouTube and they teach everything from animals, numbers, to days of the year, even sign language!) While she was busy, I would go into the kitchen where I could still see her but she couldn’t see me and I would pump.

The fourth day was still difficult, but substantially easier than the first three days. For any parent going through this, I would say once you get over the third-day hump, it’s pretty much downhill from there.

My biggest challenge was naptime and bedtime because my daughter was so used to nursing to sleep. Usually, when she started to get tired and her naptime was getting close I would put her in the stroller and take the bottle along knowing she wouldn’t give me any trouble taking the bottle in the stroller if she was busy looking around on the walk. Normally she would get just about through the bottle and would pass out.

On the fourth day, I also started to do 1/2 and 1/2 bottles. 

It’s important to start switching to whole milk, or whatever milk you decide is best for your baby gradually. The walks made that transition a lot easier, so will car rides and any other place your child will take a bottle from you without much fuss.

My daughter is also very curious, so I found if I took her into the kitchen with me to make a bottle and she could watch, she would take it from me right away just to see what was what.

When I started adding whole milk to her bottle she did give me a tiny bit of resistance. At that point, I also started adding a scoop of Ovaltine to her bottle which was something I would do when she started to get sick before we started the weaning process. It is chocolate flavour so of course, that made the world of difference to her.

By the sixth day, I eliminated any daytime feedings and we were strictly down to bedtime feedings. Having the few test days where I would give her a bottle for walks really helped with the transition and honestly, it was the easiest feed to completely cut out if I kept her busy.

Things to note, my daughter’s appetite completely changed while weaning but I expected that because when she is overly emotional she refused to eat any solid meals and will only snack. I had to get a little creative with snacks to make sure she was getting enough to eat. Anything your kids can pick up and eat themselves is always great because while they’re mad at you, getting them to sit and eat will be really difficult.

My daughter also got diarrhea while we were transitioning her from breastmilk. Now, a few people told me this wasn’t normal and that she may be lactose intolerant, however, she had been on milk since 7 months and had never had an incident. That being said, it is also possible to develop an intolerance. So when she started getting diarrhea, I switched to infant formula to see if that was what it was. The switch was awful, she hated the formula, it made her gassy and even made her spit up a bit, and she still had diarrhea.

I think you just have to know your child. My daughter is, as I’ve stated before, very dramatic. When she tends to be overemotional or resisting a big change in her life she often gets diarrhea. I decided to wait it out and see if it went away when she got used to this new routine.

Day eight was when I switched to 1/2 breastmilk and 3/4 whole milk. 

This was a fairly easy switch but I was also adding a scoop of Ovaltine to her first bottle and her bottle before her nap. Outside of those two 5oz bottles, she usually had a third around the time she woke up which was plain.

By the tenth day, we were exclusively bottle feeding. 

If you have a child who likes to feed to sleep as mine does, I find it helpful if you offer them the bottle before they actually get to bed. By the time we had gotten to the point where she was drinking from a bottle at bedtime, she was on 100% milk. I found it was better if I offered her the bottle while we were still reading stories because she didn’t associate that with bedtime and feeding to sleep. She would typically finish about 3/4 of her 10oz bottle before we were done reading. Most nights she would not want to finish it and she would roll around the bed a little bit until she felt settled enough to pass out.

So that’s it. That is how I weaned my daughter from breastfeeding in 10 days.

Now again, this is just my journey. My child is not your child. Maybe your child will be an angel while your transition and you will look back at this post wondering what in the hell was going on in my home during all of this, but maybe your child won’t be and maybe the things that worked for me may not help with your child. But honestly, sometimes just reading about someone else’s journey and realizing you’re not alone in your struggle is enough.

I am not an expert on anything, especially not parenting. All I can do is tell you what it was like for me and hope that somewhere in this blog entry there is something that will make your day even the tiniest bit easier.

As always, it’s been a pleasure pretending to know what I’m talking about!

Until next time.

The Wonders Of Breastfeeding, The Terrors Of Weaning

From the moment I got pregnant, I found myself hoping that I had a good milk supply. I knew more than anything that I wanted to breastfeed and I wanted to do it as long as I possibly could. My sister was a veteran, she had been brave and determined enough to breastfeed for two years and for some reason, I couldn’t remember it being something she struggled with. Knowing that my goal was to breastfeed just as long.

The benefits of breastfeeding just seemed right to me, not to mention the savings. I wouldn’t have to spend as much on bottles, I wouldn’t have to keep up with the whole sterilization process, I wouldn’t need to get up and make formula bottles in the dead of the night when she woke up fussy… there was no question. Not to mention the bond breastfeeding created, it was just everything I wanted.

Something I’ve mentioned a lot in my blog thus far is the lack of candid blogs when it comes to the whole pregnancy and parenting process. For whatever reason, a lot of motherhood is wrapped up in a pretty bow, sprinkled in glitter and presented to us women as this glorious thing. In many ways, it absolutely is, however, I wish I had been better informed of the struggles that went along with breastfeeding.

I’m not saying, had I known, I would have made a different decision. There is just something about walking into a battle informed that makes things easier. You knew the hardships that would be ahead, and that makes it all the more easy to shrug off the constant feeling of being exhausted and drained, the way your body gives up when you have been breastfeeding for hours and hours when your child is going through a growth spurt, sickness, developmental leaps (the changes in your baby are constant and not as broken up as they lead us to believe), the aches and pains, the sore nipples and irritability. A lot of things go hand in hand with breastfeeding.

Hair loss.

Yes… hair loss.

After 14 months of breastfeeding, I am just about ready to throw in the towel. I miss having my body to myself. It’s been 14 months of breastfeeding, 9 months of being an apartment to my baby as she grew and flourished. That’s almost 2 whole years of sharing my body 24/7 with someone else.

This means it’s been almost two years of no (minimal) caffeine, no alcohol, the inability to take medications for certain things that pop up, a careful eye on my diet, prenatal vitamins… the list is endless.

Breastfeeding is taxing, and I really have to throw my hands up to any woman who has done it time and time again, pregnancy after pregnancy. Good on you, you’re a Queen because I keep telling my husband he couldn’t pay me to do it again.

At this point, it seems to be more for comfort than anything else, but that also means that every slip and fall, every bump, every bruise, every fussy moment means she is climbing up and pulling my shirt down, getting a single moment to myself without a baby attached to me by the nipple is a rarity.

I can’t tell you the amount of jealousy I feel when I see videos of pictures of a baby just chilling with a bottle. Lying in their crib, casually sipping on a bottle while mom snaps a photo. With social media, the stream of content is constant, and it is so easy for a photo or video to have you questioning every parenting decision you’ve made.

I’ve found myself thinking that bottle-fed babies seem less fussy, they seem to have less separation anxiety, better capable to self soothe… the list of things were endless in my mind and at times, when I am extremely tired and at my breaking point, in those moments it makes me question whether I made the right decision for my baby as mother and wondering what I’ve possibly done to her with the decisions I’ve made.

I’ll have an order of parenting with a huge side of guilt please… yes, just keep the guilt coming.

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a hundred more times, being a parent is hard. It’s especially hard for mothers. Add breastfeeding to the mix, and most days just functioning is such a task for me.

As the weening process begins, I had found my already somewhat difficult girl to become an actual terror. There is hitting, there is screaming, there is scratching and pulling. There is a lot of time with her spent on the floor, crying hysterically as she lays sprawled out as I try to offer her a bottle.

If I thought breastfeeding was hard, weening is a battle I don’t think I will either win or survive.

A 10-15 minute tantrum is honestly enough to make me want to crawl into bed, pull the covers up over my head, and just hope tomorrow comes and is a better day than today. It is rough.

When she cries the way she does, it honestly strips me bare. It exposes every single nerve and emotion in me and leaves me completely vulnerable. At the core of it, I feel like a terrible mother. Cradling her against me, singing to her, trying to both soothe her and let her know that I mean business breaks me down. Every moment I am smiling through it, but inside I am fighting back tears because if I am being completely honest, I never imagined it would be this hard. I never imagined that she would swipe at me, that she would act so primal and desperate.

It’s honestly heartbreaking and something that wasn’t mentioned in any parenting blog, forum, social media post. That lack of information is so damaging to moms. We already do emotionally and mentally fragile after giving birth, some of us never really get back that armour we wore before. To look for answers and reassurances from other mothers and to find none just leaves us feeling like failures.

Not every moment in parenting is picture-perfect. There is a lot more screaming, crying, yelling, and lashing out than any Instagram mom will ever dare to tell you. There are a lot of days spent in track pants and a sports bra/nursing bra, with your hair greasy and unkempt, streaks of tears down your face as you wonder about yourself, about your baby, about parenting, and everything else.

Parenting is hard.

Babies are little people who can’t fully communicate and often lash out because they don’t know what else to do. Their behaviour is especially bad with mom because you are their safe space and they trust you so completely that they know they can be their absolute worst with you (lucky us).

I honestly wish I could use this post to give you some helpful tips that are sure to get you through the weening process, but at this point, I am just taking it day by day. Instead, I will use this post to tell you to hang in there, remind you that you are an amazing mom and you will get through this!

We are all stronger than we know, and we will survive the weening process.

Until then, we will have a little cry and pretend we know what the heck we are doing.

Breast Pump Review: Medela vs. Evenflo

This afternoon I am running on empty since getting very little sleep last night. My daughter has caught a virus, doctor tells me nothing more serious than a cold. She has been extremely fussy the past few days, very clingy and giving me very little time to myself. I have been doing everything with her attached to my chest. Have you ever tried wiping yourself with a baby attached to your chest? It’s no easy task.

Exhaustion is setting in but I don’t want to fall back into the bad habit of going days, even weeks without a post. So here goes it, please try not to judge my poor grammar usage. I’m a new mom on the grind.

Here we go…

Since I was pregnant I knew without a doubt in my mind that I wanted to breastfeed. I wanted to do it to bond with my baby, and for all the benefits they say goes hand-in-hand with breastfeeding but if I am being completely honest, the main reason I wanted to breastfeed was to save money. 

As soon as my breastmilk came in, I realized my daughter wouldn’t feed enough to completely relieve the pressure and fullness of my breasts. I was leaking through those breast-pads insanely quickly, I was waking up with the bed soaked underneath me. It didn’t take me too long to realize that pumping was going to be a must. 

Off to Babies R Us we went to choose one out. 

I chose my breast pump based on two things. Number one thing was price. I wasn’t sure if pumping was going to be for me. I had read that a lot of women tried breastfeeding and pumping and it didn’t work for them so I didn’t want to purchase an expensive pump and end up abandoning breastfeeding altogether. 

The second thing I had in mind when purchasing was ease of use. 

I knew there were going to be nights when I got almost no sleep, was groggy and would have engorged breasts and all I would be looking for was quick relief. I didn’t want to have to assemble all these pieces, I didn’t want to fuss with it. I just wanted it to be simple and electric. 

Manual pumps just seemed like added torture, so I nixed the idea of those right away (even though the prices seemed enticing). 

Evenflo Advanced Single Electric Pump

I bought this pump at Babies R Us for $69.99 CAD. 

I had been reading about mommies who had been pumping for hours and only ended up fora few ounces of precious breast milk. I was nervous about my breast milk supply and whether or not I would have enough breast milk to succeed at my goal of breastfeeding throughout the first year of my daughter’s life. 

The pump is extremely easy to put together, and take apart to clean. I love that everything is in a single piece which makes it so easy to walk around with and shift positions without worrying about where the pieces are. 

There is a silicone rubber cover that goes over the nipple cover thingy (I know, super technical terms being used today) which I think is what makes it stand apart from the Medela Swing Single Breast Pump. It just gives the pump more suction. 

Sitting for about half an hour on each breast fills the little bottle the pump comes with every morning. It had me wondering whether or not there was a problem with women’s milk production or just the pump they were using. 

The pump only requires AA batteries or can be plugged in. I use the batteries so I can move around freely, and my couch is annoyingly not by an outlet. To clean it you simply pull the frosted plastic pieces away from the large white and teal piece and everything can be rinsed/cleaned in the sink (aside from the large piece with the battery pack attached. 

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. 

Medela Swing Single Electric Breast Pump

The Medela Swing Breast Pump can be purchased at a number of locations here in Canada, but it is available at Babies R Us for $199.99 CAD.

So you are probably wondering, ‘Well, if you liked the Evenflo pump so much, why did you even try the Medela?’ Excellent question. Long story short, I have constant baby brain and would forget my first name if you asked it to me and forgot to pack my breast pump when I went to visit my in-laws for two weeks. 

One of my husband’s cousins lent me her pump while I was there so I could get some kind of relief and because I had hoped to go out one or two nights while there with my husband and leaving my daughter without food, even for a few hours, is a recipe for disaster. 

I was thrilled with how easy it was to find someone to lend me a pump. As soon as I got it, I sterilized all the pieces I would be using and once everything was dry, I put all the pieces together and gave it a go. 

First things first, I didn’t see the point in that long tube. After using the Evenflo pump, that piece seemed kind of pointless. Also, I found that after sterilization it was pretty much impossible to get all the condensation out of that tube. I don’t know if that makes any difference in terms of how well the pump works since I was just borrowing the pump I didn’t have all the manuals and information.

I also didn’t like that it felt like a lot of separate pieces. You have the cone that you cover your breast with that connects to the bottle. The top of that cone piece connects to the tube which then connects to the circular control piece. 

Typically my pumping routine at home is first thing in the morning when my breasts are the most engorged. I will feed my daughter who usually drifts back off to sleep, then I will pump the remainder of my breastmilk out. As I mentioned earlier this is typically between 4-6 oz. I then pour the breastmilk from my pumping bottle into my Tommee Tippee Pump and Go Pouches

I LOVE these bags. The tops on them make them perfect to pour into the bottle of your choice without spilling, and they also make it extremely easy to pour breastmilk into without losing a single, precious drop. 

This has been my routine since I bought my Evenflo pump and I have gotten used to it. So you can imagine my surprise when I was using the Medela Swing pump, 45 minutes on one breast and I had barely gotten an ounce out of it. My breast was still engorged slightly and I could see the milk spraying out into the pump, so where in the world was all my darn milk going?

I am sure there will be women out there who say they love the Medela breast pumps and they worked perfectly for them. To those women, I say power to you, and keep at it. I think it is important for each and every woman to do what feels right and is best for them. I am merely hoping that for women starting out with breastfeeding that are unsure, the do opt to try the cheaper Evenflo pump to see how it works before breaking the bank on a Medela. If they don’t like it, it’s only $70 gone as opposed to $200. When you are a parent, every penny should count. 

Anyway, off to pumping.