I felt a heavy ball of mourning in the pit of my stomach the last time I breastfed my son; physically, it felt like there was a cheese grater scraping over my nipples (I knew it was time to stop), but emotionally, I felt like we could go on forever. My body had been weaning him for the previous six months, supplying less and less nectar, requiring heightened sucking and ample nip-soreness.
I began the cold turkey weaning with the white lie, “Not right now,” when he would ask to nurse. I was lying to us both, giving him the illusion that at a time that wasn’t “right now” I’d let him nurse, and I was giving my self the illusion that the most intense form of bonding either of us had ever known wasn’t really over.
After a week of “not right nows,” my son and my emotions caught on and we cried hard. Our relationship had forever shifted, and my relationship with my self was thrown into a blender.
Breastfeeding was like my parenting “fail safe”; what I could rely on to make myself feel like a decent parent even if I’d been distracted and totally un-fun that day. It was my mommy reset button.
Now, I feel like I’m floating through parenting without a tether, trying to learn new ways to soothe and bond with my son, and relearn how to be gentle with myself. It’s crazy hard.
Are you weaning? Is it ripping your heart out and making you question how the heck you’re supposed to parent in the unknown Land of Post-Breastfeeding? Below are the primary emotional side effects I’m experiencing from weaning, and how I’m working to soothe them. Here’s hoping they make your transition a little easier as well.
Shift in quality of bonding.
Because an emotional umbilical cord was snipped when my boobs broke up with my son, I needed to figure out a new way to give and receive quality love with him. I now plan one special activity per day that the two of us can do together, like a park date, 30 minutes of reading, fort building, or a three-hour Daniel Tiger marathon. #MomGoals
Loss of emotional salve.
The first time my son became upset after he gave up the boob, I just stood over him speechless; I had no idea how to calm him. Since he had been born, I had gone against the advice of all the smart parenting experts and I had utilized and nursed him anytime he was upset. I used it to calm myself as well; the hit of oxytocin I received every time he latched on was lovely.
Mission New Way commence: I’ve started singing a special song we made up for times when he’s upset or hurt. I’ll sing the tune as I cradle him in the position he used to nurse in. And, to soothe myself, I drink some water and pretend it’s full of oxytocin.
Loss of physical salve.
It kills me that I no longer have the “miracle cure” flowing through my ta-tas. When I finally realized I could no longer “just squirt some breastmilk on it,” I learned how to make my own organic “healing elixirs.” At first I was really bad at creating anything useful, but after awhile I became better at mixing variations of oils (essential and otherwise), kitchen goods, and beyond, envisioning myself “pouring love” into the concoctions — the same love I had poured into my milk.
Not feeling like a good mom.
I can no longer just pop a milky nipple in my child’s mouth and receive a dose of “good mom” juju. I now have to do other stuff to get me into the “good mom flow” — like examine what the heck my definition of a “good mom” even is. Here goes, “A mom trying her best to nurture the physical and emotional development of her child through doing what works best for her unique family, while cutting herself some slack on days when her kid will only eat butter and bread and speak to her in indecipherable wails.” #TheStruggleIsReal
I’m a weaning-work-in-progress, learning that allowing myself to mourn is just as crucial as all the stuff listed above.
If you’re moving through this transition, I want to send you so much love and remind you that it’s OK to miss breastfeeding, to cry over it, to love the new freedom, to not know how you feel about it, to give your self amble self-love as you move out of this special phase in life and figure out how to settle into a new brand of special. You got this.More On