As of last week, my daughter and I officially ended our breastfeeding relationship. She didn’t make it easy, just like she does with most things, but I was patient and consistent and we eventually got there. Just so everyone is clear, this blog has nothing to do with breastfeeding and everything to do with my own unique experience with it. While I do believe breast milk is the best milk I can give my baby, I don’t believe that breastfeeding is always what’s best for mama and baby. Sometimes the best thing you can do is feed your baby and tell everyone else to suck it. Which is funny cause feeding babies involves sucking.
With my son, I had a terrible breastfeeding relationship. Nothing went right and everything went wrong. Throw in a little PPD and I was as hot a mess as they come postpartum. In that scenario, breastfeeding was absolutely not the best thing for me or my son. Neither was pumping around the clock to get a freakin ounce every twelve hours. After lots of tears and guilt and self-doubt, I finally made the decision to end all those shenanigans and just feed our son formula so I could enjoy him and start being a better mother to him.
My daughters breastfeeding relationship was completely different. We made it 13.5 months together and for the bulk of that time we managed to make the relationship mutually beneficial. Which is exactly what I mean when I say I don’t believe breastfeeding is always best. It’s not just about the baby. How the mom feels doing it is equally important.
With my daughter I didn’t feel the terrible things I felt with my son. For whatever reason things just happened more organically. I don’t like to say it was easier, cause breastfeeding is anything but easy, but it was different and somehow we made it work. Which is mostly the point of everything I wanted to say initially. Breastfeeding is work. It’s a hard as shit job that frankly I don’t love. I clearly didn’t love it with my son, but even when things were ‘easier’ with my daughter I still mostly hated everything about it.
So when it came time to wean I thought I would love everything about the process. Ha. Not so much. Weaning came with just as many dislikes as breastfeeding which really is hilarious when you think about it. Does that mean I wish we wouldn’t have weaned? No. It simply means that I believe everything related to raising tiny humans has joys and struggles. Nothing about parenting is perfect and I truly believe finding balance in the good, bad, and ugly is what keeps us going.
With all that said, I wanted to share the joys and struggles I found as a breastfeeding and weaning mama. Hopefully some of you can relate and if you don’t, maybe you can at least laugh at my experience. Or you can just think I’m crazy and tell me I’m an awful parent because I don’t love everything about everything related to motherhood. You choose. Either way, I stand by journey.
Things I dislike about breastfeeding:
- It does not come naturally, it takes learning and practice and good hard work. And maybe a lactation consultant or two.
- Your body is held hostage. Seriously, your boobs are no longer a part of you, they are a trough attached to your body.
- Unless you spend the time to pump, you are the only person that can feed your baby. Talk about pressure.
- It hurts. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. They wouldn’t make gels or creams or cooling pads if it felt good.
- Crazy shit happens and you hurt more. For me that included engorgement (ow!), mastitis (double ow!), and biting (holy mother ow!). The biting also led to an effing abscess on. my. nipple. The mother of all things ow.
- Breast milk stains don’t come the fuck out.
- You have to deal with assholes. Assholes that don’t like you breastfeeding in public and ask your baby to eat on a toilet. Assholes that think your breastfeeding is vulgar. Wait, those are the same asshole.
- Pumping. Breastfeeding is a hard as shit job, but pumping. Ugh. Pumping sucks in all the same ways breastfeeding does except you get the added bonus of pump parts, and sanitizing wipes, and spilling. Oh the spilling. Breaks a mamas heart.
- Your baby punching you or scratching you or pulling your hair and sticking her finger in your nose.
- Even though you aren’t pregnant anymore you still have to think about wtf you eat and drink. And I’m not just talking alcohol here, so many things you consume could maybe make your babies tummy upset. So then your baby has diarrhea and you can’t stop analyzing which thing it was you ate that caused it. So then you just stop eating.
- Except you can never stop eating because breastfeeding makes you hungry and thirsty as fuck.
- Your boobs have a sixth sense and leak or let down at the sound of any baby crying. Even if you are thousands of miles away from your baby.
- People ask you over and over again when you will stop. Then when you say you don’t know they ask you if you are still doing it 3 days later.
Things I like about breastfeeding:
- Most people usually say they love the bonding/snuggling involved with breastfeeding. I have two issues with this. One, my daughter is not a snuggler. Two, my son is the ultimate snuggler, but he got a bottle for most of his infancy. So yes, I do enjoy the snuggles that came with feeding my babies (whether by bottle or breast), but those looked completely different depending on who I was feeding. My son would hold my finger and look longingly into my eyes and then snuggle onto my shoulder as he snoozed beautiful baby breath on my neck. My daughter would squirm and punch me and unlatch to laugh at punching me, then when she was done and I’d try to rock or hold her she would push me away. I mostly miss my sons snuggles. Sorry Rowan.
- My baby likes it. This is one thing that kept me going with my daughter. I would say the word boob and she would lunge towards my chest. We would try to give her a bottle and she would swat it across the room.
- I can’t forget my boob at home. I forgot many a bottle and formula at home when my son was a baby.
- It keeps my period away. Apparently this isn’t true for everyone, but it was thankfully true with both my babes. Even the 3 months I spent pumping an ounce a day to mix in my sons bottles kept her at bay. And with my daughter, I enjoyed almost TWO years period free. Can I get an amen?
Things I like about weaning:
- And that’s about it.
Things I dislike about weaning:
- Just because you are ready to wean doesn’t mean your baby is. Girlfriend put us through the ringer. I already told you bottles were always a battle with this chick, but then we tried giving her different types of milk and she said get that outta my face.
- Buying more milk. After a good solid month of trying a million things, it finally worked for us to do a VERY SLOW gradual mixing process. But this only worked with whole milk. Girlfriend somehow knew if we snuck in the 2% our son drinks. So what does this mean? I now have to buy two different milk percents. As if tiny humans aren’t expensive enough. Oy.
- My baby is less baby and more toddler. This brought on way more tears than I ever expected. Now when I look at her trying to walk and drinking her milk all by herself my heart just hurts a little. It feels like yesterday she was born. 😦
- My fucking period. I already said I had two years of period free bliss this time around and boy did she come back with a vengeance. The cramps, the massive flow, the raging mood. I’m sure my husband will agree, I have not been the nicest person this last week. This was definitely one of those mama weeks where we watched way too much TV and I called it a good day when everyone made it out alive.
- My deflated boobs. I’m pretty sure most mamas out there can agree, pregnancy and breastfeeding generally come with a nice milk induced boob job. My boobs looked better pregnant and breastfeeding than they ever did in college. But the moment your body stops pumping hormones and milk up there, they just deflate into nothingness.