People warn you about all kinds of things when you’re pregnant. Things you want to hear and a lot of things you don’t want to hear: “It’s going to hurt so bad!” “You’ll never get a good night’s sleep again!” “Kiss your marriage goodbye.” “Your boobs will never look the same again.” And my least favorite: “Post-partum depression is a bitch.”
I didn’t really care what people said about pregnancy or having a baby. I knew (as best I could) what I was signing up for. But there was one thing I greatly, greatly feared and it wasn’t labor or giving birth. It was postpartum depression. Physical pain is one thing. It’s temporary and you know eventually it will end. Mental pain though? That’s a tough one to get through. I absolutely dreaded the possibility of postpartum depression — that I wouldn’t be able to bond with my baby, that I wouldn’t be capable of taking care of him, or worse, that I wouldn’t want to take care of him. But while there were some lack-of-sleep-induced down days, I managed to escape it. So far. I made it through the newborn period. I made it through the colicky stage. I made it through the “everyone’s back to regular life and I’m stuck home with a baby” stage. I almost didn’t make it through the “okay it’s been a year, when do I get my personal life back” stage, but I conquered that one too. There’s just one more phase I’m hoping to make it through before I consider myself victorious in the name of postpartum depression: weaning.
I had every intention of breastfeeding right from the moment I found out I was pregnant, but I had no idea how long I would keep it up. I never envisioned myself nursing a toddler, but somehow that’s what happened. And though I never picked a specific age in which I would stop nursing him, I can now tell you how old he’d be: just shy of 20 months. That’d be right now.
I’m one week and five days into weaning my toddler. I knew I’d have a lot to learn about breastfeeding, I just didn’t know I’d have a lot to learn about not breastfeeding. I’d been feeling pressure to stop but I really wanted the initiative to come from my son. I thought he’d give it up when he was ready, only he was clearly not interested in being ready. I finally decided I’d attempt weaning when I had to go back on a restricted diet. He’s allergic to dairy and soy and started having complications with it again after we thought he was off the hook. While I didn’t have any problems giving up those foods for the better part of a year, it was getting harder and harder for me. I wanted to be absolutely sure he wasn’t eating those things and the best way to do that was to take myself out of the picture, because what if I slipped up and didn’t realize it? (Which isn’t hard to do – soy is in everything.)
Last weekend I was out of town sans toddler for 3 nights, the longest I’ve ever been away from him. He was completely fine without me and my milk, so my husband and I just thought it might be a good time to continue without it and see what happened… Here’s what I’ve learned so far.