I always knew I wanted to exclusively breastfeed. I’d read about all the amazing health benefits to baby and that it’s a great bonding experience, plus I figured saving money by not buying formula was just an added bonus. I didn’t super love it from day one but I eventually found my stride. Little did I know just how hard weaning from breastfeeding would be.
I had heard so many people say how they just loved the experience of breastfeeding. They loved that special time between them and their baby. I wanted that, it just sounded so lovely.
At the same time, I heard other people talk about how much they hated breastfeeding or couldn’t do it and stopped after just a few weeks.
I literally had no idea which one of these I would be, having never breastfed before but my goal was to try and breastfeed Evelyn until she was a year old. If I could get that far, I would pat myself on the back and it’d all be good.
Thing is, I didn’t like breastfeeding. I didn’t like trying to awkwardly pull my boob out in public. I didn’t like that every time Evelyn cried, Chris handed her to me because obviously she was hungry and there was nothing he could do about it. I didn’t like that I had to be the one to get up with her in the middle of the night because there was honestly no reason for Chris to get up…he didn’t have the milk. I didn’t like being the only one who could feed her or console her. I hated have to work my wardrobe around boob accessibility. I loathed being covered in milk all. the. time.
Don’t get me wrong, breastfeeding had some high points. It was nice to be able to fall asleep while nursing Evelyn in the night. It was convenient that I didn’t have to pack bottles when we left the house. We did save money, I suppose, by not having to buy formula. And getting to eat more was definitely appreciated. Regardless, I still didn’t like it.
But I was gonna stick to my goal of breastfeeding until she was one year old. What’s one year? I could do anything for only a year, right?
Fast forward to this past August when Evelyn turned a year old. I had already weaned her down to only nursing before a nap or before bed. I figured by that point, getting her to stop completely would be a piece of cake.
Then a couple weeks later, on our trip to Arizona, I taught Evelyn the sign language sign for milk and boy did she catch on quick. When she wanted to nurse she knew how to tell me and it was adorable. When she really wanted milk she did the sign with both hands.
Back from Arizona I weaned her down to two feedings. One before bed and occasionally one in the middle of the night. Slowly I was able to get her down to that one glorious feeding right before bed. I was dreaming of the day when Chris could put her to bed without me helping at all! It was in my grasp. I was so close.
And then, I stopped. Just like that. I said no more breastfeeding. That night Evelyn was signing fast and furiously with both hands that, “Uhm Hallo…give me the boob!” But I didn’t give in. It was actually pretty sad. She was making these “eh, eh, eh” noises and signing and I just kept handing her the sippy cup and she’d get more and more frustrated with me.
She slept the whole night that night, which was surprising because we weren’t even at our house. The next morning we woke up too early and I napped on the couch while Evelyn played in the living room. She had her sippy cup of milk sitting on the floor but when she wanted to drink it she’d come over to the couch and compel me to lift her up so she could snuggle in my arms while she drank.
I guess she liked the bonding of breastfeeding more than I realized.
Turns out, I liked it too.
Later that day, as my boobs continued to fill to maximum, rock hard, porn star-fake boob status and even a slight hug made me want to cry out in pain, I got sad. I got real sad.
And I don’t mean, “Wow my boobs hurt,”kind of sad. I mean like, “The world is a terrible horrible place, I hate everything,” kind of sad. I was moody and short with Chris and Evelyn and I had no idea why. I wasn’t sad over weaning from breastfeeding. I mean, I never like breastfeeding in the first place.
After a few days of this, I went to my favorite breastfeeding resource, Kelly Mom and found that the feelings I was having were not in my head. Apparently there is some awesome hormone released when you breastfeed that’s sort of like crack. In that it makes you super thrilled about life (having never done crack, I’m not positive that’s how it makes you feel. I’m just guessing here). When you stop breastfeeding, you don’t get that hormone anymore and thus you feel like your coming off of a year long breastfeeding/crack high. Hence the depression.
Thankfully it didn’t last too long. And after nearly two whole weeks, the engorged breasts fixed themselves too. And even though Evelyn would still lay down next to me and sign for milk and get super frustrated when I handed her the sippy cup, she got over the whole thing relatively easily. But the one thing I didn’t expect was that after all that was said and done, I kind of missed breastfeeding.
Evelyn isn’t really at the cuddling stage anymore. She walks all over the place and is just a busy little bee. When I got to nurse her was really the only time she’d let me cuddle her and now that’s over. I miss that more than anything. I miss holding her and having her want to be held.
Granted, I sometimes still forget to pack a cup of milk in the diaper bag. And I do not at all miss her pulling my shirt open in public. But I do miss cuddling my baby. I actually kind of miss breastfeeding.