You can’t see things straight when you’re depressed, you just can’t. I knew enough in those dark two days after I weaned to know that I was in a funk, that things that were once exciting were no longer exciting. I shared my thoughts here and here. The fact I’m still writing about it has got to tell you I’m an emotional person. I mean I declared that post to be my last breastfeeding post and that was what is now four breastfeeding posts ago. Good grief, get ahold of yourself Ashley.
And, well, I want to give an update because I don’t think it’s fair to leave things on a sour note. My mind is clear and I’m back to my happy place, so I can reflect on our breastfeeding relationship with a sparkle in my eye as I reminisce on how things were at one time, in the beginning.
And that’s part of why ending your breastfeeding relationship is hard; it’s the end of a very long and tiring and emotional first chapter.
But there’s a second chapter and a third chapter and so on and so forth. As I type this, Van is handing me an over-sized birthday card my Aunt and Uncle gave him for his first birthday. When you open it, music plays and each time he drops his little bottom back and forth toward the floor. He sees my chapstick on my desk; it’s the same chapstick I had to take away from him yesterday when he managed to get the top off and began eating the contents of the tube. He whines and points in the chapstick’s direction and when I take the chapstick and hide it away in the drawer, he cries. He looks at me with tears in his eyes and I comfort him, his thumb in his mouth, his head on my chest.
Every time he has his thumb in his mouth, I think about it being my replacement. When I was breastfeeding him, he never sucked his thumb. And as I look down at him, I think how amazing it is that he’s able to comfort himself. I see, for the first time, the beauty in his independence.
And so, you see, the second chapter reads just as beautifully as the first. It’s just different. He’s not a baby anymore. But he’ll always be my child.
And thank you, again, to all of you that leave such beautiful comments. Sometimes it’s your own words that make me see things differently and I appreciate new perspectives more than you know.
You can check out my other posts on breastfeeding by clicking here.
Motherhood: Making the double edge sword sharper than ever before. Motherhood is funny in that way, isn’t it? I feel like I’ve encountered scenario after scenario since becoming a mom where the conclusion is the same: I can’t win.
Take Breastfeeding, for example. I dedicated myself to a year and I bitched and moaned the majority of the 365 days and you know what happened on Van’s first birthday? I felt guilty for wanting to quit. All along I’ve anxiously awaited my freedom only to be on freedom’s doorstep with a trickle of tears running down my cheeks, mourning the loss of my baby and our bond. I feel far from the celebratory state I imagined I would be in and then that makes me sad too.
Oh you little weaning monster, you really are an emotional jerk, aren’t you? (side note: thank you for all the sweet comments on yesterday’s post. Your words mean more than you’ll ever know)
The other day at work we were using leeches on a patient’s wound. The purpose being that leeches suck blood and increase blood flow. I know, gross, but bear with me while I share my epiphany. One of the leeches wasn’t sucking and the shift prior decided to tape the leech to the wound. The pharmacist laughed when I told him this because he said taping the leech wouldn’t make it suck. I said, “sounds like breastfeeding”.
Toward the end of Hooper and I’s breastfeeding relationship, I wanted to tape him to my breast. He was growing less and less interested and it was becoming such a chore to feed him. Nowadays I want to tape him to his chair to eat, but that’s besides the point. My milk supply diminished because Hooper weaned himself, not because my body failed to produce. And that was my epiphany. I blamed my body for a long time, you see, when in actuality Hooper was getting exactly what he needed and wanted.
I had a moment of clarity today and decided I’m going to stop beating myself up over wanting to wean. It sucks that I have to make the conscious decision to throw myself a bone and pat myself on the back. I hate that it doesn’t come naturally; that I need a moment of clarity in order to feel proud instead of guilty. I’m making a commitment not to feel guilty because commitments don’t come naturally and neither does not feeling guilty. It’s that double edge sword thing. I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. But the truth is, I’m ready to quit.
Throwing myself a my-ta-tas-are-my-own-again party doesn’t have the same appeal as it did a few months ago. Nevertheless, I completed my goal of a year of breastfeeding (and then some) and I have a cranky waddler pulling at my clothing to congratulate me. But, as is with all things, this too shall pass. I feel back to my normal self today, just a few days afterI wrote yesterday’s dark and depressed post. Thank goodness.
It’s so hard to say goodbye.
This is the last post in my breastfeeding series and I’m writing it in tears, which is a far cry from the jumping up and down excitement I envisioned. Maybe the tears are from the thought of this being the last time I ever breastfeed, maybe they’re from the hormones associated with the transition, or maybe they’re from the unnatural ending.
It’s because of the latter that I feel this impending feeling of guilt. As much as I’d love to lie and tell y’all that both Van and I were ready, this is not the truth. In fact, I’ve been dealing with an incredibly clingy and cranky baby for the last few weeks of what has been a weaning process and as I admit that, another tear streams down my face. I was ready, he was not.
I had no experience with weaning. Hooper naturally weaned himself and our breastfeeding relationship ended very naturally. With Van, I cut our 8 feedings in half for a week, then in half again the following week. I fed him first thing in the morning and last thing at night for the past few weeks and when my supply diminished and my nighttime feed no longer put him to sleep, I stopped that one too. And just like that, Aunt Flo came back into my life despite me having referred to her as the weird, smelly Aunt; she never seems to hold grudges even though I wish she would.
And so we stuck to one feed a day, first thing in the morning. And each morning, I’d look down at that little sweet face and reassure myself that indeed today would not be the last day, but instead tomorrow. And the truth is, I couldn’t handle feeding him knowing it would be my last time.
It’s like knowing your best friend is going to die tomorrow. How do you say goodbye? And I realized, I couldn’t… I couldn’t feed him knowing that I wouldn’t feed him ever again.
So, I fed him on a Wednesday. Then I went to work on Thursday and pumped one single ounce. Combined. One ounce, people. On Friday I had a meeting and I decided not to pump at all. And just like that, our breastfeeding journey has come to an end. I didn’t have it in me to say a formal goodbye.
And now, I’m in tears.
How was the weaning process for you? Did you experience depression after weaning? If so, you may want to read this post (I found it comforting).