Hey Mama Hey! I have been holding something back from you. I have went through a major change and I didn’t share. I’m sorry Girl. My bad. I’m ready to come clean. Confession: I stopped breastfeeding ObieQ 3 weeks ago.
Keeping reading to find out: WHY I did it. HOW I did it. HOW it affected me. What I learned.
Breastfeeding Q was one of the most rewarding and difficult aspects of my Mamahood journey so far. When I came home from the hospital, I didn’t think I would make it to the end of the week. Cracked nipples, cluster feedings, being on call all the time. It was all too much. I gave myself 2 weeks. I would stick with it for 14 days. If this didn’t get easier I was ready to switch to formula, and I wasn’t going to feel bad about it. Fast forward to months of nursing on demand, pumping while traveling for work, dealing with unsolicited comments from family, even mastitis….I kept going. I was motivated by all the cuddles, doctor appointments where he gained weight and I would pat myself on the back, and the literal bond of him latching on. I nursed for 2 years and 4 days. 734 days of nourishing my child with my own body. Then one day I decided to stop.
Why I did it.
For me. There is more behind this answer, but the short version is because I wanted a break. ObieQ’s birthday is about a month before mine. So he turned 2 on September 27th and in a week I will turn 38. These ages were significant because the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until 2yo so that was always a long term goal of mine. As for my birthday, 38 is almost 40. Papa Fresh and I have always wanted another child. I would like to deliver before 40. Add in 10 months of pregnancy and build in time for unpredictable fertility. Yep, your calendar is right we need to start planning like next week. I wanted a break. I have been pregnant or breastfeeding since Jan2016. I deserve a break
How I did it.
Gentle. I saw all the crazy things online. Band aids on nipples, apple cider vinegar on your breast, even lemon juice. I wasn’t interested in “tricking” ObieQ. He is 2yo and understands more than I give him credit for. I wanted to have a heart to heart with him. A straight up understanding.
I waited until my husband traveled for work. Breastfeeding had been a relationship between my son & I and that is how it was going to end. The last night I nursed him down I was in tears. I knew that would be our last time in that familiar position.
In the morning when Q woke up I had his breakfast ready. Like I was his butler: “Good Morning Mr.ObieQ can I interest you in some wonderful oatmeal.” Well that worked. He went off to school, came home, had a snack….still going well. Then bedtime hit. He said he wanted to nurse and I told him “We are all done nursing. Mama can cuddle and rub your back.” He protested and cried but it didn’t last long. That night I laid with him, rubbed his back and we sung our way to sleep. The next day he asked 3 times and I stayed firm with my answer but offered back rubs each time. Everyday his asking decreased and by the 4th day I knew it was official. We were done.
How it affected me.
My life after breastfeeding. I thought I would be taking whiskey shots at 8:30. Getting crazy. I was going to start working out again. I was “getting my body back!” This was not the case. Physically I started going thru it after about 36 hours of not nursing. I was engorged and uncomfortable. My hormones were off the chart and I got pretty sad. Doubts started overwhelming me: “Would I be able to parent without my secret weapon?” “Will he ever lay on me again? He is SO ACTIVE, nursing was our only quiet time” “Is he officially a big kid now, will he still NEED me?”
This caught me completely caught me off guard. I did not expect this at all. I thought HE would be the one physically affected. Why was such a hot mess?
What I learned:
- Enjoy every phase. Even when it comes to an end.
- Kids are resilient. Adults, it takes us a little longer to adjust.
- I am great Mama. Breastfeeding does not define me as a mother. I am a great Mama even without it
- Every Mama has her own style. Don’t get caught up in Pinterest recommendations so much that you ignore your child’s unique personality.
It’s been 3 weeks and we haven’t nursed. There are days that I miss it. Like a lot. There are days when I am in awe of ObieQ’s independence and I know it was the right time for us.
Even thought my breastfeeding journey has ended, I am still an advocate for breastfeeding Mamas. I have decided to become a Peer Counselor. With this new partnership with University of Chicago Hospital, I will get to provide information and support to new Mamas. That makes me happy.
When people saw me nursing ObieQ as a toddler, they would often ask “When do you think you would be done?” I would joke and say “Hopefully right before he goes to Morehouse.” Well, I didn’t make it that long BUT 2 years ain’t shabby!