Sunday, March 16, 2014

Allergies, Obsessions and the Big Decision to Wean

As I thought about writing this I doubted whether I should over and over again.  I'm sure there are plenty of people way tougher than me that would have made the decision to tough it out...  But after weeks of thought, this is where I am...

I've spent the last three days obsessing over breastfeeding and weaning and... dairy.  And I think I've finally made a decision...

It's gone something like this.  I've nursed well into the second trimester before and that's what I planned on doing this time too.  I'd planned on weaning the boy at 21 months, just like his sisters, two months before the new baby arrives.

I imagined weaning as being easy like it was with the girls, since usually my milk is basically gone by the end of the second trimester and it would all work out like the perfect little picture I have in my head from the last two experiences.

Then the obsessing started.  Dairy.  Milk and cheese and sour cream.  Cream cheese and butter.  I haven't been able to think of anything else for weeks.

I started taking calcium supplements in addition to the crazy amount of vitamins that I already take (since I usually have to take the same vitamins that Mae takes in order to convince her to take them) and waited for the cravings to subside (on a side note I already take 6000 mg of vitamin D a day after reading a study about that amount of vitamin D actually boosting vitamin D in milk enough that the baby wouldn't need supplements, since Patrick kept getting sick from the drops when he was tiny, and it boosts my energy level so, so much).

But even with all the supplements and my otherwise normal healthy diet I couldn't get all things dairy out of my head.  It probably doesn't help that during my pregnancies most meat is totally repulsive to me... so getting enough protein can be a challenge.

Now to be clear, this obsessing over a certain food  is weird for me.  I went on the crazy elimination diet where I basically ate nothing but meat and veggies 15 months ago.  We discovered that dairy was the culprit 11 months ago.  We did GAPS for months before realizing that it really is just dairy and gluten Mae needs to avoid and now our family meals are basically gluten and dairy free and have been for six months.  So usually giving up certain foods, even foods I really really love (look at my old recipes on this blog and there's cheese in almost every single one) isn't that big a deal.

Until it was.  I suddenly understood why women sometimes eat crazy things when they're pregnant if their bodies are deficient in a certain nutrient.  I imagine that like my new dairy-obsession, they can't think of anything else.

And it doesn't help that his eczema is flaring right now and his shoulders are bloody and I can't help but wonder if he's developing a new allergy or if it's just the impossibly dry air overcoming the ointments I slather on him multiple times a day.

So yesterday I began the weaning process.  I think that there must be a nutrient that my body isn't getting right now that it needs.  If I really believe that our bodies are amazing at knowing what they need when they're cooperating in building a new little life, than I need to make sure I'm getting what the baby and I both need, and I think that's going to involve something that Patrick can't have.

Patch woke at 3 and Paul tried to walk him back to sleep and then I finally held him and rubbed his back for an hour while he tried to convince me that he was desperate for milk, before I put him down in his crib awake where he thankfully didn't make a single sound and went easily back to sleep without eating.

He's 16 months old and I do wish we could have made it a few (or five) months longer... but this time it's not to be.  I'm hoping that the next few days fly by for our little guy and that he gets used to this new change really, really soon.


  1. Good luck with the weaning. I hope it goes well for you! If you don't already know how to do it, there is a good video out from Stanford Univeristy that teaches hand expression. Not sure how much milk you have, but it might be useful if you get engorged or uncomfortable at all. The last thing you need is to get mastitis.

    And, I'm a huge fan of extended breastfeeding, but in your case, I definitely think you are making the right decision. You've had a lot of pregnancies, really close together with breastfeeding in between and your body could easily be very nutritionally depleted. I really think you need to focus on getting as much nutrition as possible during this pregnancy (and don't worry about weight gain), so your baby will hopefully be born without any allergies or other health issues.

  2. I'm commenting as Anonymous here, but I was the person who requested the post on C-sections, so you know who I am. ;)

    I LOVE that last picture of Patch--the impish grin is just too cute!

    I wanted to thank you for your post series on C-sections; it was so helpful and reassuring for me to read them. I went into it fairly pragmatically, viewing the C-section as a necessary (transverse breech baby who couldn't be turned isn't coming out any other way) but really unpleasant scenario. However, I was floored by the fact that even though it wasn't the natural birth I'd pictured, it was the most beautiful, wonderful event of my entire life. The doctor and staff treated us with such love and compassion! Five minutes after she was born, the doctor, who was stitching me back up at the time, said, "okay, what are her Apgars? They're good? Great. Mom's breastfeeding--put baby on her and get that started." Yep, seriously. :D I have a picture of her nursing on me in the OR with my husband and doctor standing next to us...perfect!

    The girdle tip was particularly helpful; once I got my shower and put it on a couple of days later I felt SO much better! The doctor put an abdominal binder on me as soon as I was stitched up, but the girdle helped more with the surgical area while the binder took care of (what's left of :p) my abs.

    A note to other C-section moms: my milk didn't really come in fully until about 10 days postpartum. I'm not sure if that's common for moms who had C-sections, but I'd just about given up on nursing because of how frustrating the tube supplement system was. After a day of formula, I pumped out of a "what-the-heck" sort of mood, and got nearly three ounces, which might not sound like much until I mention that I'd only gotten about 1/2 an ounce total before that. I'm hopeful that we'll eventually BF almost exclusively in the future. Like the ideal birth I'd pictured, I had to give up on the idea of never giving my baby formula, but at the end of the day we both survived and were much happier and relaxed because I wasn't stressed out by her hungry screaming, and she wasn't stressed out because she was so hungry! Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if that "break" day helped my milk come in as much as anything, if only because I could spend a day not stressing about it. There were tears initially (on my part) when I decided to give her a bottle, but in retrospect I'm so glad I did.

    Again, Cam (and all the commenters who chimed in with support and tips!), thank you so much for the practical suggestions and advice. I really, really appreciate it!

  3. ((HUGS)) Weaning is such a hard decision!!

  4. It sounds like you've put a lot of thought into this decision and I'm sure it is the best one for you and your family!

    I think 16 months of breastfeeding is fabulous! It's a wonderful gift to your son.

    I was only able to make it 2 months with my son and 1 month with my daughter. I beat myself up about if for a very long time, but now that they are 11 and 9, it doesn't bother me any more! :)

  5. I'm sure you've tried a gazillion things already, but I'll throw this one in just in case: my third baby (now almost 15mo) has eczema. We tried the natural route (Vaseline, olive oil, avoiding certain foods) and nothing helped for more than a day until I started using Aveeno Eczema cream after every (twice weekly) bath.

    We've had wonderful results with it and no need to apply in between baths.

    Good luck with weaning and eating! TB


I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!