Tuesday, February 15, 2011

the big W, day one

Yesterday was supposed to be my final day of breastfeeding. Over the last month or so, Charlotte has demonstrated less and less interest in my breasts and we were down to one serious nursing session per day, usually first-thing in the morning. She'd sign "milk" several other times a day, but then nurse for just a minute or two (literally) before squirming out of my lap to play or chase the cats. She's been taking breast milk (I may refer to it as simply milk... at her age, the only milk she gets is breast milk) from a sippy cup for a couple of months and hasn't indicated a preference for bottle, breast or sippy so I thought we were ready for the final step. She woke up at 10:30 last night, signed "milk," and nursed for what I believed was the last time.

Then, this morning, I sabotaged my efforts and put only 4oz in her morning bottle. What was I thinking? After she polished it off, she looked at me with a sad face, pulled on my shirt, signed "milk," and buried her face in my chest. She was otherwise still very sleepy, so I nursed rather than prepare another bottle. Her restlessness disappeared. The sad face turned into a contented one. And she went back to bed for a little more sleep before truly beginning the day.

We've already mastered day-time weaning. Wide awake, Charlotte is too busy playing and exploring to linger at the breast for a full feeding. Milk in a sippy along with her solid meals is all she wants, and sometimes she'd rather have water (she tells me this by shoving the milk-sippy off her tray then emphatically signing "drink").

I visited the breast-feeding support group for (probably) the last time yesterday and asked the host-nurse how much milk Charlotte should consume in a day. I can't say for sure how much she's been getting, since there's no gauge on my nipples, but I would estimate about 16-20oz (8oz nursed in the morning, 2oz with each of 2 solid meals, then maybe 4oz nursed before bed), plus a brief middle-o'the-night feeding that popped into her routine about 5 weeks ago. The nurse suggested aiming for 18-24oz per day. I've been feeding Charlotte solids and putting the milk-sippy on her tray to take whenever she feels like it, but I will start offering milk first to encourage her to drnk more. Especially at dinner time, I am hoping this will get her to take more milk and maybe resume sleeping through the night. Up until a nasty fever (quick-moving virus that got her up to 104* and disappeared within 72 hours) plus teething made for one miserable weekend, Charlotte had been sleeping 10-12 hours each night, straight-through without interruption, since she was 5 months old. I'm still waiting for her to return to that routine.

In other news, Charlotte took her first step! It was only one, and it hasn't been repeated, but she did it! She's also picked up some new signs AND spoken words. We joined a gym that includes babysitting in their membership, and Charlotte absolutely loves playing with their toys and the other children. Yesterday, she spied a purple soccer ball on a shelf and kept pointing to it, saying, "BA!" while I was trying to feed her a snack. She shakes her head "no," and nods "yes." She signs "hat" and "sleep," among other things.
Tomorrow morning's bottle is ready to be heated. Eight ounces this time, from last June's vintage. And a middle-of-the-night 4oz emergency bottle is waiting too, just in case she needs it. She's working on some more teeth (I can see something on her upper left gum, she's been drooling like a leaky faucet, and her fingers are in her mouth so much they're pruned), which may be to blame for her recent sleep interruptions. We'll see how Day One, take 2, goes tomorrow.

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