Weaning is Hard

I think my problem always comes from having preconceived notions about how my breastfeeding journey is going to play out with any particular child. I was fully committed to breastfeeding each child. Not because I subscribe to the “breast is best and formula is like feeding your child rocket fuel!” way of thinking, but because I am cheap. Formula is expensive, man! Like, we’re going to have to cut out some non-essentials and budget for this, expensive. I guess the rocket fuel manufacturers jealously hoard the stuff or something. I kid, I kid.

Anyway, I dedicated myself to breastfeeding my first three children, and was largely successful at it. A little too successful with Wren, since she would not even take a bottle. But then I got pregnant, and each time my supply completely died when the nausea and vomiting of the first trimester all the trimesters hit. So, I was forced to wean and start each one on formula well before I was prepared to do so. The babies were completely unfazed (even the one who a few months prior was completely refusing bottles), but I found myself really sad about it. And it shocked me. I definitely wouldn’t categorize myself as a crunchy, attachment mother, but even I couldn’t deny that I was actually enjoying the sweet moments nursing my babies. It is bizarre and kind of silly, but I feel a strange sense of accomplishment watching those thigh rolls form on their little legs and my skinny old man-looking newborns filling out nicely into chubby babies. So, after I would get pregnant and couldn’t even keep water down, I sadly bade goodbye to our nursing relationship, and would start shelling out the big bucks for formula.

But Rhea was going to be different. We finally had our post partum NFP routine down pat (it only took us three surprises to figure it out), so I could breastfeed her as long as I wanted to. I had in my head these Cassatt-like visions of still nursing a pleasingly plump toddler. Well, the best-laid schemes of mice and men, so the saying goes. Rhea turned nine months, and lost a good bit of interest in nursing. Every session but the morning and night ones were a struggle. Then, by ten months, she dropped the night session too. Nothing I could do would entice her to nurse. She loved solid food, and that was it.

She turned one last week, and here we are. I no longer have the “I’m cheap” excuse to keep up this breastfeeding battle, because she can just have whole milk now. We only have her morning nurse when she wakes up still, and I’ll keep doing that for as long as she’ll let me. But, she is losing her enthusiasm for that too, and I’m thinking it won’t be long now. And I don’t know why that makes me so sad. Babies grow up! And each different season of their lives is an adventure, and has its own benefits. I know all that. But for some reason, I still mourn. I know I will miss it for a while. Until, God willing, the next one comes along. Does anyone else feel this way about weaning, or am I drunk on hormones?

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Stretch your wings and fly, little one. Some day, you will grow up and leave my little nest. I am praying earnestly for you, and that I do God’s will in raising you. To love someone is to suffer for them, and I will suffer watching you grow up and leave your father and me, but I also know that leaving us when you’re grown is what is best for you. St. Augustine said that the definition of love is to will the good of another. It is good that you are weaning and growing up. And I take so much comfort in that. You and your sisters make us proud, and we are grateful for you every day. So go ahead and keep growing, and don’t mind my tears. They are simply growing pains.

Mine.

10 thoughts on “Weaning is Hard

  1. Alex Gaines

    I totally empathize with you! Mason is still nursing a few times per day at 20 months but I can tell we’re nearing time to wean. The thought still makes me a little sad. It hasn’t always been easy but I’ve tried to really cherish every nursing moment because it really is but for a short time in the grand scheme of things. Congrats on Baby #5!!

  2. mglalala

    Apparently weaning causes a kind of hormonal depression similar to post-partum, so I don’t think you’re being overly emotional or anything. One of my good friends just went through it and the struggle is real. Hugs!

    1. sylvia.hobgood@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you! I feel so much less weird now. It is good to feel some solidarity.

  3. Rachel A. Hanson

    Raising strong willed little girls is hard work! E gave up her morning nursing session when she was about 6 months old and it was really hard for me. Even harder was going to my first (and only) LLL meeting for support and not really getting any.

    Good luck with your weaning journey!

    1. sylvia.hobgood@gmail.com Post author

      I’m so sorry that happened to you! You would think at LLL of all places they would lend some support! Yeah, whenever I bring it up with fellow nursing moms, they either shrug it off or act like I must be doing something wrong for her to be refusing feeds. That only adds to my frustration, because little do they know I am working so hard to keep this going.

  4. Rachel O

    Oh you are not alone! I mourn too each time nursing is at its end. I have made it to the year mark once, with babe#5. I have struggled with supply in the past and that was a huge heartache in an of itself. I am currently nursing babe#6; I hope we can make it at least that far this time around. We are 2.5 months in and things are great, thank goodness!!

    Good luck!

    1. sylvia.hobgood@gmail.com Post author

      Nursing really isn’t as easy for everyone as advertised! Congratulations on baby number 6 and good luck on your breastfeeding journey!

  5. Shannon

    Oh I hear you! My baby is only 8 months and still very much into nursing but thinking about eventual weaning makes me feel so sad. But what a blessing this time has been. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    1. sylvia.hobgood@gmail.com Post author

      Nursing at 8 months is my sweet spot. They don’t take forever and half to nurse, but they aren’t old enough to try and escape yet 😂😂.

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