Weaning Is A Let-Down

by Honest Mom contributor Carisa Miller – blogger at Do you read me?

When I first suggested she not nurse constantly, my daughter behaved as though I was withholding her will to live.

I could offer little consolation, since bringing her near me only made her think I was about to offer her a nip. (If ever I wished my breasts were detachable.) I tried my best to let her know that she deserved to mourn and that I was sorry for her loss. Very soon, her fits of devastation adjusted to less severe displays of displeasure. As she worked out a way to comfort herself, I did my best to pretend it wasn’t killing me not to nurse her.

Over the last month and a half, I’ve worked at taking my die-hard-boobie-baby from an on and on suck-a-thon to a set number of times per day. Four … three … two…

Two days ago, without warning, I hung up my mammaries for good.

It was the first morning I denied her request to nurse upon waking. She didn’t fight me at all and my heart broke outright. Apparently she did not fully understand my intentions. She was supposed to sense a half-heartedness in my effort to stop breastfeeding, not take the hint and actually give it up. Stupid baby.

I knew, right then, I had to pull the plug. (Pun intended.) I couldn’t bear to drag weaning out over several more weeks with the tapering method I had been using. I’d had enough of this killing-me-slowly bologna.

When she got up from her afternoon nap, she asked to nurse. And I breastfed her silly. I let her stay latched on for as long as she could stand it. She switched sides over and over, for an hour while I cried.

It was an ideal setting, alone in rare silence with my baby, to take one last opportunity to cherish our breastfeeding relationship … and then give it up.

‘Twas no stroke of brilliance, that last extendo-feeding session. It set my mammaries into a production rush. My breast tissue currently resembles densely packed gravel. Whatever. Since this whole deal sucks (additional pun fun), mind blowing pain for a couple days doesn’t make a huge-heckuva-clogged-duct difference to me.

I am so far from over this. Whisper the word “hormone” to me and I’ll cut you. I feel like an addict. All I can think about is giving her a hit. This is harder than when I quit smoking.

I am letting out a breath I have been holding for five years: through two pregnancies, a several-year bout with horrendously painful pelvic dysfunction, a case of pre-eclampsia, two birth experiences (the first of which was traumatizing), and breastfeeding each child beyond one year.

Weaning marks the end of my children’s claim on my body. <Insert enormous exhalation here.>

Gone are the excuses for not spending a night away from the children. Without a baby attached to my breast, I will be expected to venture out into the world and see what everyone else has been up to. I’m not sure I want to. I’ve gotten used to life this way.

Since the moment my children were born, no word has defined me more than “mother.” While I still have two lifetimes of mothering ahead of me, without breastfeeding, I am no longer a mother to babies. My heart sinks at the thought.

There’s a new me coming on, but I don’t know her yet. It has been such a struggle to keep my independent self above water in the midst of all this mothering.

When I got up this morning, my I-won’t-hold-still-for-nothin’-or-nobody sixteen month-old daughter crawled into my lap, reclined to let me cradle her and stared up at me contentedly. She held my nipple for comfort (her favorite party trick) and didn’t fuss or try to swoop down to latch on. She understands breastfeeding is over for us and gave me exactly what I need to make it through to the other side: A baby in my arms while I sort my new self out.

If you breastfed, did you, like Carisa (and me), have a hard time when you stopped nursing your baby?