I have been in such a funk these past two weeks. I know you wouldn’t be able to tell because I’m really good at hiding if something is wrong, but I can no longer deny it. My heart is broken and my own child is the one who broke it.
I have struggled to write this post all week. Seriously, I have started, and RE-started this post over and over again for two reasons. One, I honestly cannot gather the right words. Two, I still get so upset when I think about it.
I’ve thought of explaining our entire journey before getting to the point, but I figure that may be more than you all care to even know. However, I will tell you this: No one prepares you for something like this. Such a fragile, precious, genuine bond that you create by breastfeeding your child, it’s something that you won’t understand until you’ve done it.
Our normal bed time routine goes a little something like this: bath, a little play (under a dimmed light), a story or two, and then I nurse her to sleep and then transport her into her crib.
Well, two weeks ago, Olivia and I were up in her room going through that routine and as I was changing her into her pjs, I noticed she looked super exhausted, and then I just did it. I kissed her goodnight, put her in her crib, and rubbed her back. For the first time ever, she didn’t scream when I put her in the crib. In fact, she was out cold in less than 10 minutes. What I felt afterward was something I never expected to happen.
I held it in until I got downstairs. I sat on the couch and called one of my friends, Steph, and she said, “Hello?” and I said “Hi, if I cry while we’re talking don’t freak out. I’m just really upset.” and she asked, “She went to sleep with out the boob, didn’t she?” And that was all it took. In seconds, I was basically sitting in a puddle of water from how much I was crying.
I knew it was coming, we were only down to nursing at night, but this soon?
How could she do this to me? How was she so able to fall asleep without needing me? We’re not ready to stop. She still needs me. She was just super tired. It’ll go back to normal tomorrow.
But I knew that we were ready. I was slowly making less and less milk (because she was only nursing once a day) and I knew that this time was coming and although it came faster than I had expected, I needed to stick with it and not give in.
The second night was the toughest. She cried for 20 minutes and would point at my boobs and I would have to shake my head because if I would’ve actually muttered the word no, I probably would’ve started crying right along with her. It. Was. So. Hard., not to mention heartbreaking. I knew what she wanted, I knew why she was crying, but I also knew that she was okay and that we could do this. And you know what? We did.
Of course after she finally fell asleep, I came downstairs and cried my eyes out again while simultaneously stuffing sympathy Oreos in my mouth.
I knew that I had to stick to a routine and not confuse her. If I had given in even on the third night, she would expect it again the next night and be so confused as to why I basically just teased her.
For the first week and a half, I was just flat-out bitchy. And depressed. I know that sounds so dramatic, but it’s true. I was mean, and sad, and would cry when she would go to bed without me. Honestly, I thought it was just me being upset. But did you know that it’s an actual thing? Weaning actually has side effects. Thank you, Natalie, for pointing that out.
Knowing that it was normal, I was able to understand (and Dominic was able to, too) what I was going through a little better, because I was able to google things and read blog posts from other women, but it didn’t make it easier. I started blaming myself for not cherishing our nursing time a little more, and even for not taking more pictures to remember our sweet moments together.
Breastfeeding Olivia was a far greater experience than I had ever expected. It was something that I found that I was really good at doing, and I was really proud of it. I loved to tell people I exclusively breastfed Olivia and when I went to the doctor for her well-visits, I would get praised for making it so far and I loved that. Not one part of me was ever once ashamed to breastfeed Olivia. It was the one thing that only I could give her. No one else could feed her or comfort her in that way, only me. And that was gone. The way I looked at it was that now I was just like any other person in her life, nothing special. I wasn’t giving her any special milk that my body created solely for her, and we didn’t have that special nursing bond anymore, so what did we have?
The mother-daughter bond. Duh, Katie.
I was so devastated by the fact that I was no longer going to have this nursing bond, and that she wasn’t going to want to cuddle me, or maybe wouldn’t even love me the same way, that I completely took away from the fact that I am her Mother. I brought her into this world and we are always going to have that bond, the I-baked-you-for-nine-months-and-then-birthed-you bond, the mother-daughter bond, and no one else can have that bond or do that job either. Only I can be her Mother, and I was so caught up in the fact that I was no longer nursing her, that I forgot that (very) important little detail.
Even though we are done with the nursing chapter in our lives, we have so many other moments that are going to keep us bonded and together. This is my little baby, growing up into a tiny human, learning to do things for herself and it is so hard to witness, but in the most joyous way possible. I won’t lie, if she would’ve given me trouble on that third night, I probably would’ve given in and justified it by telling myself, and every one else, that she just wasn’t ready. Honestly, I would’ve nursed her all the way to college if she really wanted me to.
I still find myself secretly hoping that she’ll want to go back, and I know that’s normal. But I also know that she is not, and it’s good that she isn’t otherwise we would be going through this all over again, and then I’d have to write another blog post while trying to hold back the water works. It’s hard, and sometimes I will still get really really sad over it, and I let myself feel sad, and then I move on and tell myself that it’s all okay.
(Because as much as it feels like it’s not okay, it is.)
Dominic brought me home roses last week because he knows I’m sad. I know he says he understands, but how can he really get it? But man do I love him for being there for me, as always. I am also trying to make myself feel better by thinking about the things that I can do again…..my body will once again be just mine, I won’t have to worry about leaving her with someone else and her not eat or drink anything, I can drink as much coffee as I want without worrying she’ll get too much caffeine, and I can get super drunk if I want to. Although let’s be real, that last part probably won’t happen.
But the best thing about this whole situation so far -and this really is making it so much easier- Olivia gets up around 6:30am and Dominic brings her in our bed. Before, she would point at my boobs, now she drinks some milk from her bottle, and then the only way she will go back to sleep is if she is laying on my arm, with her two little arms around my neck, and our faces are touching. I swear to you, I am not making that up. It is literally the most heavenly thing ever and I hope that she doesn’t grow out of that any time soon because I love it so much. I love her so much.
I will never forget that nursing bond, and how special it is, but I’m here to let you know that even after that special bond has come to an end, that little human is still your child.
And that is the most special bond you will ever have.
P.S. This is strictly from my view as a breastfeeding mom. I am not trying to take the bond away from mother’s who cannot or choose not to breastfeed.
P.P.S If you didn’t click on the ‘Natalie’ link above, I suggest clicking it now. Her post was so unbelievably raw, and inspiring and actually motivated me to finish this post.
P.P.S.S This article by A Cup of Jo is also related to depression/weaning. It is a real thing, mamas, so don’t be ashamed.