One of the most important parts about being a mother is finding balance and rhythm for your children and yourself. When one or both of you is out of balance everything around you seems that much harder to deal with. So it is then your job to find your way back to balance. This was case for V and I back at the beginning of January. Suddenly our wonderful loving relationship began to fall apart: she went from being a happy baby to a cranky, irritable one; she wanted to nurse all night and day even after eating full meals; she asked to nurse when she was bored and would throw a tantrums when I said no as she had just nursed an hour ago; she was consistently mean to me when we did breast feed, biting, pinching, and kicking. I began to resent breast feeding her and dreaded it. I could feel that something was not right. I did not have this experience with S.
I felt so sad because I had really wanted to allow her to wean herself; to have that moment when she said “thank you but I am done.” However I could see that that was not going to happen. The breaking point came one night when I spent 5 hours straight breastfeeding her. I was so tired and aggravated that she would neither allow me to go to sleep or latch off the breast. When I did latch off she would scream and scream. My breast were sore, aching, and empty. My heart felt the same. And so I made the decision to wean her. At 17 months and 22 pounds she was capable of eating 5 small meals a day on her own.
The transition was harder on me then it was on her. She would ask for the breast and I would tell her there was no more. She would sort of shrug and move on. I made sure to give her lots of extra hugs and kisses. The most immediate change was a happy baby again. Then bedtimes went from 45-60 minutes down to 10-15. Naptime became a breeze and now even D could help put her to sleep.
As for me I struggled internally with the question of “am I doing the right thing?” A question I’m sure every parent asks themselves. As my breasts engorged and then eventually emptied I felt such a loss and so much freedom at the same time. I too became happier. No more scratching or biting or pinching. I got to wear my nice shirts again and bought myself new bras.
Two months later I feel just as connected to her as before and she seems no worse off for it. She is happier and sleeps better and I could not ask for more.
I wanted to share this with you all because I read so many stories about how mothers had wonderful breastfeeding experiences and it ends so calmly and peacefully with the child letting go first. I did not have that experience and I wanted to share in case other mothers are feeling guilt because they are not having as beautiful an experience as they would like. No mother should come to hate breastfeeding. If you do, you know something is out of balance and you’ve got to get it back.
****Please feel free to share your story. I would love to hear them. But only leave kind, thoughtful, constructive comments as I know breastfeeding is a very delicate issue.