Weaning Carter is quite a process, in more ways than one. There's a physical process as well as an emotional one. On the physical side, engorgement is a bear. I'm slowly trying to cut down Carter's nursing, but it often means I get a bit full, which can get uncomfortable. Last night I gave him a bottle before bed (since it seems to keep him full longer, which equals more sleep), so I woke up a little engorged (okay, a lot), and then he didn't do a full feeding on the one side so the next time I woke up it was really bad! During the day I do five-minute pumping sessions if things get too full. It takes the edge off without doing much to stimulate milk production. My goal is to switch over to bottles completely by Friday so I can eat what I want by the weekend (sorry, Easter is a great food holiday, so if I have to do it anyway, might as well do it before). I wouldn't want to leave us in limbo for too much longer anyway. If my milk hasn't dried up enough by then, I will just pump in shorter sessions until it's gone. Just typing that makes me a little sad, actually...but I'll get to the emotional process in a bit. In the meantime I'm concerned about avoiding mastitis, which can result from decreasing too much too soon. But I do want to get this done before I go back to work, so we've got a couple weeks to work on it.
On Carter's end of things, I worry about how he will respond to his rapidly decreasing nursing sessions. I don't want to stretch this out too long, because the sooner he's on formula, the sooner the rest of the cow's milk protein can get out of his system and make him better. He does seem to be doing better already, by the way, though he's still spitting up here and there. He seems a lot more comfortable, though. I've avoided dairy for a few days now, and am becoming more confident in the fact that this diet would have driven me nuts. I've done okay, but my options have been very limited so I know I'd get sick of it all very quickly. Just trying to figure out where to eat out with my mom for our day out tomorrow has been challenge enough! Anyway, I don't want to cut Carter off too quickly because I don't want him to feel abandoned. When he's taking a bottle, I try to snuggle him just like when we nurse. It seems to work better that way. I look him in the eye, kiss his head, and talk to him, then cuddle him as much as I can afterward. Doing that seems to make the feedings easier for him. I'm still trying to figure out how much he needs to eat, because sometimes he only seems to need three or four ounces, but sometimes he still seems fussy. With formula this expensive, waste is a bit of a concern, so I'm trying to be conservative. I think bottle feeding in general is a learning process for both of us, and after lots of nursing experience on both our parts, this is a change that will take some adjustment. Overall, I just want him to feel loved and be comfortable enough that his nutritional status doesn't suffer at all.
But the emotional toll is a challenge as well. Jacob and I barely had to deal with any of it last time since we weaned so gradually. This time it was completely unexpected, so it's hard to deal with. There are so many experiences and emotions I didn't expect to deal with for another year. The other day I was looking and Carter and feeling sad because I felt like he was having to mature before his time. Jacob had this connection to me until he was a year old, and now Carter is losing his at six weeks. It feels like I'm sending him out into the big, bad world without protection only a mommy can provide. It breaks my heart. All I've ever known is having a breastfed baby up through their first birthday. Readjusting my expectations of Carter's first year has been a challenge. Willingly letting my milk try up this early is so hard for me mentally and emotionally. Heck, just spilling a little breastmilk in the past was heartbreaking, and now I'm dumping entire pumpings. When I was pumping the other day, I felt like I was cheating on Carter. On one hand I know my milk isn't ideal for him, but on the other it feels like letting my milk dry up is robbing him of months of special nutrition.
On one hand this process seems like such a short one, and on the other it seems like the longest week ever. It needs to be over so quickly, but it's such a step-by-step process that it seems to be taking so long. I'll be very sad when that last planned nursing arrives (planning on Friday morning), but I will be relieved to finally be able to eat what I want again and know he's on the road to a happy body. I just never thought we'd be here. At least not now.