my.arms.don’t.even.know.what.to.do

Two different posts from two different days almost 3 months apart about the very same thing. 

AUGUST 21, 2013

I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t prepared for the sudden-ness or the ease with which the change occurred or the empty-feeling. I thought this would be a process, a challenge. I wasn’t ready for it to just happen on a Wednesday night in August. I predicted perhaps February or March, IF I was lucky.

For the past four nights in a row, after Reeve’s bath and books and pajamas, he’s looked at me and cried for his “boodle” (which is really his sippy cup and sounds like bottle).

He has NEVER done this at night. The first night, last night, I raced downstairs and grabbed it thinking, “wooo hooooo!!!! This is IT. Self-weaning at it’s finest.”

And thank God, right?

Just four days ago, after a crappy afternoon nap, I said to Kirk that Reeve was going to nurse forever. I was tired and sunburnt and dreading tomorrow’s nap before today even began b/c it has been increasingly more and more difficult to put Reeve down for his nap. It had taken 20 minutes of nursing and 10 more minutes of rocking, all for a 45 minute nap.

I should have kept my mouth shut.

As I think back to that nap four days ago, I realize what was likely happening is that Reeve wasn’t getting enough milk and that’s why it was so frustrating for him. His reaction was to ask for what he wanted in a different way. A bottle.

While I recognize how smart he is and how natural this weaning process felt, what I can’t recognize is this empty feeling I am now experiencing.

Quite honestly, my arms just have no idea what to do with themselves right now.

I know you are probably reading this thinking I’m being over-dramatic, but my so much of the past 17 months of my life have been dedicated to being an On Demand Breastfeeding mother. I’ve carefully chosen the foods I put in my body for this reason and I’ve not drank more than 2 drinks on any given night in that whole time.

And while I applaud Reeve’s independence and know that this is just another cue he’s giving me that he’s growing and making choices that impact HIS desires and will and outcomes, it hurts my heart.

At the forefront of my pain is pride. His first significant choice about his life was this choice. I’m ever-so-grateful I didn’t have to put lemon or bitters on my nipples or wrap them to hide them. I was fully prepared for this. I talked to my sister-in-law about how she weaned her babies and was prepared to spend 2-3 weeks trying these as well as other tactics.

It feels natural, that’s for sure. But, I won’t lie….part of me just wants to hold him closer for a few more months. I told Kirk that it’s hard, a fine line….part of me wants to keep nursing him for my sake….but, HE MADE THIS CHOICE! That’s both amazing and heart-breaking.

Let me clarify at this point, that we are still having to nurse for the daytime nap, but I can feel that shifting and predict it will end within a week. I am still rocking him to sleep and refuse to give that up any time soon.

What this means though, is that we are now finding a new routine. I hold him a little differently and he wiggles around (something he couldn’t do while nursing) and he fidgets and we are both a little confused right now about how this is going to work. The first night I told him stories about Molly & Hannah, the second about Jack, the 3rd about Daddy and tonight about Baby Reeve. I rock and rock him for at least another 10 minutes after he’s softly snoring and I try to process.

I put him in his crib and then I go into find Kirk and I cry. I’ve sobbed for the past 4 nights.

It’s bittersweet and it’s new and, to be completely honest with you, it feels a bit horrible. I’ve been especially honest with Kirk about how I feel blah and can’t eat and how I’m sad and cry a lot during the day whenever I think about it. I’ve researched “Depression & weaning & breastfeeding” b/c I am concern about myself. And that’s unusual. I never had the Baby Blues or Post-Partum Depression, but I’m well aware that the hormonal change and the emotions I’m feeling could pile up and knock me over if I’m not conscious of it.

One of the changes that occurs with weaning is a drop in the hormone Prolactin. Prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production, also brings with it a feeling of well-being, calmness and relaxation. The faster the weaning process the more abrupt the shift in hormone levels, and the more likely that you will experience adverse effects. PS…I’m not a doctor.

So, if you notice things are a little slow over here, just please know I’m trying to figure this out. How I can be so completely heartbroken over this is beyond me. I just feel such a sense of loss…and sadness. To me, this means the end of a very close physical relationship. Breastfeeding has been the foundation of so many loving and bonding memories for Reeve and me.

It feels fair to say I’m going through a breakup. It feels a little like that. Like a very special period in my life is over. Through teary eyes I tell you I feel overwhelmed and cranky and tired and a sad after having a completely lovely day with my family.

November 13, 2013

Let me first tell you, in response to the words above, that this *depression* I thought I was experiencing was real. It happened. It lasted a good two weeks. I gave myself a 2-week period to adjust and let things just settle and then committed to calling my doctor after that if things didn’t settle a little with my hormones. They did.

Let me also tell you that this wasn’t The End of nursing as I knew it. With a lot of travel in the weeks following this first step of self-weaning, I continued to nurse Reeve ONCE daily for his nap. The first 6 weeks or so I was fine with this decision. Though inconvenient, I valued that nap he took more than my own comfort or time. After that 6 weeks, I noticed how difficult nursing Reeve down for a nap was becoming.

First off, there is no milk left in my breasts. None. He was simply using my breast as a pacifier and it HURT!  Now, it had NEVER hurt before. Not once. I never had scabs or bloody stuff or any of those horror stories you hear about. None!  He NEVER bit me once he started to get teeth.  It hurt b/c my breasts were empty and b/c he would fall asleep with my nipple in his mouth, almost gnawing on it, and I had to rip it out of his mouth after he’d “nursed” for 20 minutes, then another 10 minutes of pulling it a little further out, then another 10 of just holding him completely still to make sure he was *really* asleep, then another 5 of moving inch-by-inch off the bed to make sure I didn’t wake him.

Listen, it was a pain in the ass. But I did it. I needed that 30-60 minutes alone more than anything. I was okay with it.

For the first 6 weeks, that is.

Then, about a month ago, I realized I wasn’t just a *pacifier*, I was a *crutch.* He was suffering from not having a proper afternoon nap and becoming increasingly fussy each day around 3….And it hurt me….Oh,  The pain…. The time it took to get him to fall asleep was longer than he actually napped. I was always sweaty afterwards and just wanted to sit on the floor for 10 minutes to rest before I could get up and do anything.

But I was conflicted.

I had nursed Reeve On-Demand his whole life and didn’t feel that in my heart that weaning him by choice was right. What was the point of giving him the comfort he’d needed all of these months if one day I was to just take it away? It felt like I had negated everything I’d stood for as an On-Deman, Extended Period Pro-Breast Feeding Mom (aren’t labels ridiculous when it comes to mom-ing?)

But I was tired!

But also conflicted, remember?

It just couldn’t go on this way. It was a vicious circle. If I didn’t nurse him, he didn’t nap. If he didn’t nap, he was AWFUL!  If he was awful, I was pulling my hair out. So, I nursed…

But then, we bought a special Night Night Bottle. I told him how special it was and how “mommy put her milky in the bottle just for you” and “when you are ready, you can have it” and “if you still need milky after you drink the whole Night Night Bottle, you could have it.”

And I didn’t expect it to work.

BUT IT DID!

We are only on Day 7 of Night Night Bottle and no nursing. Granted, I still rock him to sleep, but he hasn’t asked for “Milky” or “Night Night” and is instead very desperate for his “Night Night Bottle.” I didn’t tell him “night night was broken” or “empty” but he DOES keep pointing from left to right to left again going, “is dere milk in dere?” 🙂 I tell him yes to the left, no to the right.

I’m not sure if I weaned him or he weaned himself. I’m not sure I even care. If I were interested in being the mom I thought I had to be a year ago, I would say he weaned himself….but it doesn’t matter.

I’m, for sure, not in the same *place* I was on August 31st when I wrote the first post above. Mentally, this process does not hurt. Physically, there is no recognizable way to know I’m not a breastfeeding mom anymore. My heart isn’t heavy. My arms aren’t confused like they were above. I don’t need to hold him that way anymore. I don’t need to look into his eyes as he suckles. Now, I look into his eyes when he gives me “juicies” (wet kisses) or puts both hands on my cheeks and says, “Wuv you, mommy.” It’s enough. It’s more than enough.

Listen, this mom-ing stuff is hard enough and I’m not sure it matters how long one nurses their child or not, but I’m going to go ahead and tell you that I want an award. My boobs (particularly my left one) wants a trophy. I’m damn proud of what I did with these things….I fed my child WITH MY BODY for 20 months!

I will tell you that I hope to nurse another baby someday. I said *Someday….

I will tell you that I hope to nurse that baby for one week shy of 20 months….or however long he (b/c it WILL be a boy) will let me.

I will also tell you that if tomorrow he won’t nap and begs and claws into my shirt like he’s done in the past, I won’t give up. I can’t. I need my body back. I feel guilty saying that. Being a mom is all about self-imposed guilt, isn’t it? Geesh.

I just need my hormones to be NORMAL after 29 months (including those 9 I was pregnant) and I need my boobs back. I’m tired of having someone clawing at them. I’m telling you, yesterday he was standing on the floor while I was sitting, watching Sesame Street with his hand just down my shirt and bra. Just chilling, hanging out feeling me up.

If anyone ever asks, I will tell them that breastfeeding is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done short of actually making another human being. I will tell them about the bond and the health benefits for Reeve and I will defend my decision to nurse him to almost 2-years-old to anyone who DARES give me a dirty look, word or voice about it. OH YES, I WILL!

But, I also will tell them that it’s eff-ing HARD work! It’s been a J-O-B! It was a choice and the best one I’ve ever made, one that I didn’t know I would ever feel so strongly about, but I’m pretty much, almost, really quite glad it’s come to an end. Almost….

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