Monday, September 16, 2013

The dreaded day has come... Weansday.

I knew this day would come, I just didn't know when. I kind of hoped never, and yet some days prayed it was THAT day. I never pressured myself to make it to a certain date, but I did set a goal to make it a year, and here we are. 

Breastfeeding has been one of the most strenuous and emotional things I have ever done. I had to fight tooth and nail (or power-pump and supplement) for ever drop to feed my sweet son, but I wouldn't have changed it for the world. We've had one tiny cold in his almost 12 months, and I feel fantastic about his growth and development, so all in all it was a success. 

Except for those moments where I felt completely depressed and irrelevant.  Let me explain.

At about the 10 month mark we had some nursing strike issues (or so I thought). When it came time to nurse he would only accept first thing in the morning and right before bed, any other time he would thrash about like I was asking him to drink lemon juice. Arching his back and whaling, I wasn't going to force it. So I contacted our lactation consultant who assured me this was normal to some extent... he could be teething, finding his independence, I wasn't letting down quick enough, etc etc. There were many things I had to assess. I would try one thing, then the other. Then it would seem we made two steps forward and about twenty back. He would now only nurse first thing in the morning, and no other time. Oh, and he didn't want bottles. He didn't want anything that resembled a nipple what-so-ever. I bought training cups - he only liked those on Thursday's; sippy cups - only if they were green; cups with straws - actually worked really well, when he wanted them to. Geeeesh. I was about to pour it down his little throat to get him nutrients!

Just when I was about to break right in half, he started nursing again. I have no idea why or what the solution was. We were back on first thing in the morning and before bed, pumping in between. Crisis averted. For a week. 

He had now decided to try out his new razor-sharp little teeth. And try as I may to remain calm, my body tensed up like a diving board as a let out a soft shriek (inside I was dying, death by nipple bite) and you would have thought I threw the child the distance of a football field. He was devastated that I pulled him off, the look in his eyes, screaming, tears upon tears. I had hurt his feelings, and that broke my heart. He wouldn't go back for the remainder of the day. 

I was brave enough to try it again a few more times, but it always ended in the same situation. Bloody nipples, screaming baby, trying to remain calm, wanting to flail about like he was. He wanted nothing to do with it anymore, I was a chew toy. We were officially done. 

Just like that, I didn't even get a proper "goodbye". He had self-led his weaning. Google it if you want, but I'm here to tell you YES, it happens, tell anyone else to stuff it.

You'd think the relief of not having shark bites on my boobs would be fantastic - or maybe to have freedom - sweet, sweet freedom, but it wasn't. All I wanted was to go back to our regular nursing routine. The comfort, the emotional bond... how could I not be needed anymore?!? And he was happy to just move right along, it didn't even phase him, he was probably out the door shopping for his first car, and I was left crying in the glider. What did I do wrong? Could I have done something more? Pitiful.

As the days went by I assuredly moped around the house, waiting for him to snap out of it, conveniently positioning my boobs in his face just in case (oh dignity, where have you gone). Though I did enjoy wearing whatever I wanted without the hideous underpinnings, I'd gladly take them back if that was what he wanted. My moping soon turned to loathing, because I was having to pump more to keep up the supply and demand. I swear to you, my skin crawled at the touch of that power switch. It may have cost and arm and leg, but I planned on burning that damn pump after the last drop.

Exclusive pumping is no joke. To the moms out there that do it, BRAVO. There is an inevitable dip in supply every so often that you have to work to get back up, just to go through it again. It's rigorous. It's exhausting. But I was doing it to keep providing milk for my child. Until now.

I'm tired. Not sleepy tired, but tiiiiired. My supply is so low and I don't have it in me to be a magician and create more milk out of no where. I don't want to smell like maple syrup. I want my boobs back, I want them to not be angry every time the wind blows. And even though I am so incredibly sad that I will no longer be the nutrient provider for my little man, I am patting myself on the back. No, I'm not a warrior mom who's breastfed 3 years and beyond plus donated to the milk registry, and I'm certainly not belittling anyone who didn't make it as far as a year. It should be known, and it is a fact, that any and all breast feeding is an accomplishment. But I breastfed for a year, A YEAR! Bam!

Even though I'm gloating, it's not enough to negate that it's a weird state when you finally throw in the towel. How can one woman feel so empowered yet so rejected all in one swift blow. Like most every aspect of breast feeding, I wish someone had prepared me for this. But any time I'm feeling low and weird, and on the back shelf, I look at my baby's smiling, joyful face and I know I did that, I raised him from my own body, and I'm damn proud. Anything else a good glass of wine can cure - and I can have more than one :)

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