Breastfeeding

It’s so hard to say goodbye.
This is the last post in my breastfeeding series and I’m writing it in tears, which is a far cry from the jumping up and down excitement I envisioned. Maybe the tears are from the thought of this being the last time I ever breastfeed, maybe they’re from the hormones associated with the transition, or maybe they’re from the unnatural ending.
It’s because of the latter that I feel this impending feeling of guilt. As much as I’d love to lie and tell y’all that both Van and I were ready, this is not the truth. In fact, I’ve been dealing with an incredibly clingy and cranky baby for the last few weeks of what has been a weaning process and as I admit that, another tear streams down my face. I was ready, he was not.
I had no experience with weaning. Hooper naturally weaned himself and our breastfeeding relationship ended very naturally. With Van, I cut our 8 feedings in half for a week, then in half again the following week. I fed him first thing in the morning and last thing at night for the past few weeks and when my supply diminished and my nighttime feed no longer put him to sleep, I stopped that one too. And just like that, Aunt Flo came back into my life despite me having referred to her as the weird, smelly Aunt; she never seems to hold grudges even though I wish she would.
And so we stuck to one feed a day, first thing in the morning. And each morning, I’d look down at that little sweet face and reassure myself that indeed today would not be the last day, but instead tomorrow. And the truth is, I couldn’t handle feeding him knowing it would be my last time.
It’s like knowing your best friend is going to die tomorrow. How do you say goodbye? And I realized, I couldn’t… I couldn’t feed him knowing that I wouldn’t feed him ever again.
So, I fed him on a Wednesday. Then I went to work on Thursday and pumped one single ounce. CombinedOne ounce, people. On Friday I had a meeting and I decided not to pump at all. And just like that, our breastfeeding journey has come to an end. I didn’t have it in me to say a formal goodbye.
And now, I’m in tears.
How was the weaning process for you? Did you experience depression after weaning? If so, you may want to read this post (I found it comforting).

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13 Responses

  • Oh Ashley, sending hugs from far away. This post is so sad. I hope things get better soon and hormones and the like settle themselves down. Breastfeeding is such a love/hate relationship for so many people, but it really is so special you’ve done it for a whole year and a little more. xxx

  • My heart goes out to you and all the things you are feeling.

    We have not weaned yet. She’s cutting her sessions shorter and shorter but she may change that. She’s 14 months at the moment. I definitely had to cut down our feedings at around 6 months-it was killing me how much she wanted to nurse. goodluck!

  • I will be praying for you…it was difficult for me as well. Very emotional I would just start crying for no reason for about a week. My husband had to do bedtime routine which made it much easier and actually he still helps out 4 months since we stopped. I know how you are feeling and you are not alone! It will get better! :)

  • Aww, I can totally imagine how hard this would be. It is ending a relationship, in some ways, though you will now begin a new relationship with Van, as you did with Hooper. He will gain a new sense of independence. Very sweet post.

  • I’m crying just reading your post. It was a very confusing time for me and my little one. I couldn’t go on—she wanted to. Even now—weeks after we’ve stopped, she’ll catch me with my shirt off and sign “milk”—it breaks my heart. Love what Kim says above—here’s to a new sense of independence for both of us. Xo

  • I’m in tears reading this myself. Awkward because I’m downtown on a park bench. I so completely understand exactly what you are feeling. I’m trying to figure out how to stop nursing my own baby. She just turned two and I never thought in a million years I would still be breast feeding her. I thought 18 months would be it but it didn’t turn out that way. I think I am ready now but it breaks my heart to think of it as my last time. We are struggling right now with fertility issues and I’m coming off two miscarriages (too much personal info for a first time commenter?) and I’m afraid I will not get to have this experience with another baby again.

    Ugh. It’s so hard. It really is hard to explain the complexity of emotions involved to the decision to wean. Good luck to you. Hoping it gets easier soon.

  • This is such a beautiful and heartbreaking post. It made me cry and we’re not even close to weaning, but just thinking about it… It is, at once, the hardest and the most rewarding thing that I’ve ever done. You are so wonderful. Your boys are so lucky to call you mama. Sending you love & warm wishes to take you through this hard time. xo

  • Very sweet and well said. Just wait until they go to college. New beginnings can be both painful and eventually joy-filled. Been there and survived. Kudos to all you young moms! (Don’t think anyone ever loved Aunt Flo, and she must be pretty dense.)

  • Gosh
    I’m in tears
    My daughter is 16 months and I’m about to go back to work.
    I’ve agreed (reluctantly) to start weaning at 18 months.
    But I don’t want to.
    Well I want to.. I think. I just don’t want to upset her.
    Thank you for sharing your experience in such a raw way.
    Miss started occasionally sleeping through the last month and since then Aunt Flow has returned.
    The hormonal shift from the reduction of feeding was such a shock. It was comparable to the PND I had.
    Sending you a virtual hug.
    Go and buy some sexy underwear and celebrate having your boobs back!

  • I am so sad to see you weaned, but being so new I don’t know what your reasons were. I know they’re different for every momma who initiates the weaning process. I’m sorry for the hurt you experienced! And you are so brave to share! My mindset with parenting has been this: don’t make long-term choices about a short-term feeling. Another momma a few comments up regrets weaning at 6 months and it breaks my heart to read stories from women who regret choosing to wean or not breastfeed at all. It is such a sacred relationship and when we choose to disrupt the natural relationship God designed to exist, our bodies naturally react negatively with the onset of depression. Mothers need their babies differently than the baby needs their momma, but just as much.

    • I chose to wean for two reasons: 1. deep down, I was ready and 2. I knew I’d be having major back surgery and I had to wean before that.

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