Friday, August 28, 2009

Project Waikiki

Waikiki = Weaning

We are lucky enough to have a HAWAIIAN VACATION planned for October! A professional meeting, combined with free flights and hotel leftover from Huz's traveling days, was just too good to pass up.

And, the Girl is not coming. (Thank you, grandparents!)

This is sad and exciting and sad and exciting, all at the same time. In many ways, I'm glad the timing was already established, because I don't know that we would have gone on a trip so soon. I do think it is healthy for new parents to get away for a vacation at some point, but it is always easier said than done. I'm sure I'll miss her like crazy, and the OCD that will rear it's head whilst planning for her care for 8 days will be a wonder to see.

When the trip was planned, I wasn't sure if I would still be breastfeeding or not. I am, though, and the thought of pumping on my vacation just seemed ridiculous. Plus, the timing is really about perfect - she'll be 10+ months old when we leave. I'm not sure she would have been interested in nursing after 8 days of all bottles, and it seemed like a logical break.

Sniff, sniff.

It does make me sad to think about. I haven't enjoyed every aspect of breastfeeding, but I do like the cuddle time and, more than that, it is now so fast and easy. Five minutes each side and she is done - no warming of bottles or anything else. She is quite the distractible child, though, and now with her mobility I can only imagine that she'll be a progressively squirmy eater.

So ... the process begins.

If you have learned anything about me, it is that I am a Planner. With a capital P. I also have the luxury of doing this on my own time, so I have chosen a lengthy weaning schedule. There is no rush or deadline, other than mid-October hula time!

Girly has been at 4 feedings a day for quite a while now, but I added an "artificial feeding" first thing in the morning, so my body really thought it was more like 5 feedings. I would nurse her first thing in the morning on one side, then pump both sides. I truly feel that this helped keep up my milk supply while working, but it also added complications in the mornings when I needed to get out of the house to work (took too long to feed AND pump). This also significantly added to the milk stash in the freezer.

So, starting this month, I began weaning myself off that first morning pumping. I have always pumped for 15 minutes, so over about 2-3 weeks time I just slowly cut that back to 12 minutes, then 10, 7 and 5 until I just quit all together. Tuesday of this week was the day I stopped. I had Girly nurse on both sides at 6am (which she hasn't done since she was about 8 -10 weeks old) and that was it. I was more "full" than normal for about 2 days, and now I pump more at the 10am feeding time if I am at work, but I think things adjusted themselves well.

Also, starting this month, I cut back all of my pumping times from 15 minutes to 12 and to 10. I haven't noticed that it makes much of a difference, maybe an ounce or so less, but it is faster (yeah!) and I thought it would be helpful for the eventual dropping of feedings.

With my work schedule, I plan to drop feedings on Fridays, every 1-2 weeks, which will give my body about 3 days to adjust until I am back at work again. I'll drop her 2:00pm feeding next Friday, which will be the easiest because my supply is lowest at that point. Then, a week later, I plan to drop the 10:00am feeding, which will be a little harder. This will make for only a 6:00am and a 6:00pm feeding. It also means the end of pumping at work - can you say HALLELUJAH?!?

I plan to wait 2 weeks before dropping the 6:00pm bedtime feeding, but in the meantime, will slowly start to introduce formula. I plan to use every bit of frozen breastmilk (800 oz. and counting!), but will start to introduce 1 bottle a day of half formula and half breastmilk and work up from there.

When I drop the 6:00pm feeding, I'll add 2 bottles a day of half formula, half breastmilk. So, she'll nurse first thing, and have 3 bottles for the rest of her feedings. Some people I know have dropped the bedtime feeding last, but Girly is used to getting a bottle at that time of day, and she is often so tired that she doesn't nurse well anyway. Her morning feeding is the best and it is nice to cuddle in bed - I'll definitely miss it.

About 10 days later, I plan to drop the first morning feeding and be finished. This will be about 2 weeks before we leave for vacation. By the end of that week, all of her bottles will be half breastmilk and half formula. It would certainly be easier to use all formula, but I worked hard for that breastmilk, so we are using it! Plus, it is free!

If I have calculated correctly, I have enough breastmilk to get us through this transition over 2 months, and then I will just use up whatever is left, adding more formula as needed. Just in time for the transition to real milk, dontcha know ...

So, I've penciled in Saturday October 3rd as the last time I'll nurse her. Teary, even now. I think I will really enjoy the freedom, though, and I will feel proud of what I accomplished in 10 months.

And, shortly after, I will be tan and drinking girly drinks by the pool. And I'll be glad Mr. Medela is nowhere in sight.


4 Magic Words said...

October 3rd? Great Timing!
No Football That Day!
Free, Free At Last!

Marie Hooker said...

That is an excellent plan and you should definitely be proud of yourself for nursing so long!