Note: I wrote this after I’d realised I’d “accidentally weaned my child” off breastfeeding. I’ve not been brave enough to post it until now. September 2020.
Weaning from breastfeeding
It felt like all of a sudden my heart was ripped out of my chest. A pulling force, so strong it crippled me. I couldn’t breathe. No one told me what to expect.
Why does nobody talk about this?
I sat on the toilet in floods of tears. No one told me how hard it would be. No one mentioned the crying, the sobs, or the feelings of inadequacy.
Like I’d failed. My body had failed.
The end of our beautiful 17 month long breastfeeding journey came far too soon for me.
Baby boy was ready. I certainly wasn’t.
I still adored the closeness, and craved the feeling of maternal protection. I felt powerful. like I was needed. The soft strokes of his wispy blond hair as he suckled and sometimes snoozed. I loved every bit of it.
The moments of calm and peace. The excuse to sit on the sofa and enjoy the moment. Just me and him.
I’m not stupid. I knew breastfeeding would stop eventually.
I just presumed I’d have more of a say in it. But why did I think like this I now wonder?
In what way was it my choice?
Here I am, approximately a month after our very natural weaning and I finally feel able to control the tears and write down my thoughts. I’ve made my peace. With the ending of it and with myself. Although, I’m crying as I write this.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that my beautiful baby boy is no longer a baby.
He’s turned into a little boy.
A very handsome, gorgeous, intelligent little boy with a heart of gold and an adventurous, mischievous, BIG personality. It may sound strange. Although I’m eternally grateful for the amazing 17 months of our breastfeeding journey together, it feels to me that it was much shorter.
I’d paced it to go on for years. “At least until his second birthday” I’d said.
I browse through photos of us from the past year and spot so many breastfeeding ones. I’m grateful I took those. I wasn’t expecting it to end like it did.
Pregnancy does that I guess, although again, no one told me.
I should have seeked out the answers beforehand.
Our second pregnancy.
An absolute blessing. We’ve caught naturally despite still breastfeeding on demand at the time. By about week 10 into this pregnancy, breastfeeding was agony.
I also realised my boobs no longer ‘filled up’ like they used to, and B was sucking that much harder, often biting me, I presume in annoyance or because he was bored.
He’d naturally dropped the daytime feeds and so our breastfeeding consisted of a brief evening comfort feed and an early morning one, barely longer than 5 minutes each.
He would pull off as soon as he’d got on, give me a big grin as if to say “I’m OK Mum, I don’t need it…”
In the shower one morning about 3 weeks before we weaned I tried to hand express and nothing came out. It stung like a bitch too.
I now think that he was dry feeding for a fair while before he eventually stopped asking… The evening feeds got replaced with a cuddle and warm cup of cow’s milk, and he stopped waking up at 5am wanting comfort.
It was only on day 3 of this happening that the thought hit me like a bolt of lightning. I burst into tears.
“Our breastfeeding is over” I sobbed to my husband.
“That’s great news!” he said “Now you can focus on the new baby!”
I didn’t want to hear this.
The tears turned into full blown sobs for the next week or so, every moment thinking I’d done something wrong, he didn’t need me anymore, he didn’t want me, I was a failure blah blah blah.
All these bullshit stories in my head just poisoning me, making me feel weak and inadequate. I was unable to feel proud of how long I’d fed him for despite being pregnant for the last few months.
I was unable to feel gratitude for the incredible bond we’d developed because of it.
I was unable to feel complete because I hadn’t been the one to choose this.
Yet it’s amazing what a bit of time can do. Through the tears and the last few weeks now comes a sense of peace.
A release that I perhaps needed?
I still feel a sense of sadness at the ending of our incredible experience of breastfeeding but I now feel that the ending was the most perfect way for it to happen.
Completely natural and no stress whatsoever for little man. He really doesn’t miss it which comforts me that it was absolutely the right time.
In fact I’d worried a few months back, thinking ‘how will I ever wean!?’ and here I am. Here we are!
We didn’t have to do anything! B decided.
Many women do not have what I had. I am counting my blessings now my hormones have regulated.
It’s all good. It’s what it is and now I can see the benefits.
But my advice to any mamas out there who’ve been passionate devotees to breastfeeding and loved every minute…
The truth is nothing can prepare you for the feelings, emotions and hormones when you do wean.
It’s heartbreaking, soul destroying, tearjerking to say the least.
So I guess this writing here is my way of giving you a heads up. Be prepared for tears and allow those tears to fall. It’s very normal and a very emotional thing to go through.
You will be fine I promise. Just give it time.
And you’ve done an incredible job, so be darn proud of yourself mama.
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