October 14, 2015

She Weaned, I Mourned

I thought reclaiming my breasts would be cause for celebration. Weaning meant freedom for me and more independence for her (my freedom the main incentive!) Instead, I found myself in shock and overtaken by grief. Three weeks later, the sting of my new reality still burns like a hundred paper cuts. Well… maybe 85.

It started a few weeks ago. My family and I were headed out of town. Before leaving, the presence of a nasty stomach bug made itself known. As it progressed, our two year old daughter became unable to tolerate milk-not even my super, powerful breast milk.

I thought that stuff could fix anything!

A few desperate attempts later, we realized it was a no-go. She simply couldn’t handle it. She cried for her comfy place: in my arms, latched onto a breast, my warm milk soothing her to sleep. I felt so helpless! I was no longer her quick-fix, her healer. I couldn’t make this all better.

After a few days of looking into her sad eyes and watching her shake her head while asking “No boob?” I realized this was the perfect time to wean her for good. It didn’t make sense to start over once she was accustomed to no longer breastfeeding.

The week that followed was brutal. She wanted so badly to latch on. She cried, screamed, tugged at my clothing, and had full meltdowns. Nightfall presented the greatest challenge because bedtime had been our special time together. 

As the days/weeks passed, I began to experience a multitude of what-the-heck-is-wrong-with-me symptoms. I was short-tempered, yelling (more than usual), irritable, irrational, crying uncontrollably, and feeling the need to isolate myself from the world. Things that typically wouldn't be a big deal were monumental. Small tasks felt impossible. I recognized the feelings of depression but I related them to my weaning reluctance.

I suffered from PPD after my first child was born so it was familiar to me. However, I'd never been informed about the hormonal changes weaning would cause. I felt like I had when PPD was tormenting me, but it couldn't be that, I thought. I felt alone and afraid.

It was all happening way too fast! We were completely unprepared for any of it. No one understood my hesitancy and bouts of hysteria. They didn’t understand how I couldn’t be ready to wean my growing toddler. Even more, they didn’t understand why I thought she wasn’t ready either.

Then again... how could they?

It seems that lately a breastfeeding mania has taken over. Nursing moms are against bottlefeeding moms (and vice versa). I’ve witnessed the world have tantrums over mothers posting pictures of themselves nursing. Yet, when a woman’s boobs are plastered all over television screens, there’s not so much as a whisper of opposition. People want to tell a mother when, where, how, how long, and… it makes me want to scream:


Cliché but unless you’ve nursed a child you could never understand the connection shared between a mother and her nursing baby. It goes far beyond emotion and deeper than thought. It’s a bond that’s locked within heart chambers and buried within time.

I sit in tears reminiscing about those sacred moments. I won’t forget looking into my baby’s innocent eyes while she looked back into the soul nourishing her. I’d give anything to feel her tiny hands upon my breasts again. She held them like bottles but one-handed them once she became a pro *insert smile here*.

I loved to watch her squish, push, and twist until the chosen breast was positioned just right. She had a way of tucking her hand down into my shirt or the fold of my breast when falling asleep. It was the most precious thing you’d ever want to see!

People make remarks about how relieved and liberated I must feel now. I won’t deny that breastfeeding was often tedious and time consuming. In the beginning, when I was inexperienced, it was downright painful and overwhelming. There were ups and downs with breastfeeding just like anything else. However, the positive aspects far outweigh any negativity I can recall.

I nursed my oldest for (only) three months because I couldn’t keep up with her veracious appetite. My youngest nursed for 2.5 years. I have been a bottle-feeding mom and a breastfeeding mom. I nourished my children to the best of my ability and never felt the need to degrade anyone else’s chosen method. I will forever cherish both experiences although nursing is a unique connection no mother can deny.

Nowadays, my hours are filled adding to my to-do lists, trying to ignore the void that wishes to consume me. My mind, breasts, hormones, nor maternal instincts can forget the enormity that nursing once was. I’m gradually feeling better but still grieving and mourning. Exercise, writing, lots of hugs, and good company are seeing me through.

I miss feeling so lovingly needed and validated. I miss running off to hide in little corners of the world, sharing my super-milk with her. My nights and bed sheets are filled with the tears I cry, in the place she used to lay.

She loved her “boobie woobs.”

That’s what we called them

*People talk about the benefits and glamorous side of breastfeeding but rarely does anyone mention the woes and ugliness of stopping (depression, irritability, mood swings). If you are a nursing mom contemplating weaning your baby, do your research beforehand to prepare yourself. I was unaware of the grief that would follow. This may not be every mother’s experience but you’ll be happy that you informed yourself. Knowledge is power!

Sites I used

As always, thanks so much for being here! Your support is greatly appreciated. BE SURE to SHARE this post. If you also have a weaning story you'd like to share, PLEASE DO! Our stories could help someone else.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your experience. I felt the same after stopping nursing my oldest son. We were trying for another baby, and just couldn't get pregnant, so I weaned him. He was over 2 years old, so he was ready, but after, I was not. I missed that special time and that bond we shared so much. He used to call my milk "Mo." I did end up getting pregnant the month after he was weaned, and had twins. I wasn't able to nurse them, but pumped for a year. It was a totally different experience, and I wish I could have breastfed them.

    1. Thank you for reading & sharing your experience as well Shann Eva! The whole thing took me by surprise! After going through PPD with my first and surviving, I never thought I'd have a similar experience with something as beautiful as breastfeeding/weaning. I'm happy to be doing better daily. =)

  2. Wow, what a brave post! I experienced a huge mixture of emotions both times I weaned. I felt relieved, guilty, excited, sad-- everything!! Hang in there. You are clearly doing a great job with your kids!

    1. Exactly Julia! A roller coaster ride is what I've been experiencing for sure! I'm happy to be doing better daily. Having stories like yours to encourage me makes the journey a bit easier. Thanks for reading. =)

  3. I never thought weaning could bring on those types of feelings.. but it def involves an hormonal change so I can understand it. Good for you for sharing your struggle.. I am sure it will help a lot of women!

    1. I never knew either. I'd never even heard of it but after informing myself, it all made sense! I do hope to help someone through my experience. =)

      Thank you so much for reading!

  4. Awe! Tearing up! I loved your honesty! We have such precious moments when our children are young! Your post will help other moms who are experiencing weaning (or who will, some day soon)! Cute photo! Hugs!

    1. Thank you so much Lisa!!! Didn't mean to conjure your tears. Lol! I do hope that this post helps someone. =)

  5. It's such a personal journey for each woman who has the opportunity to breast feed. Beginnings & endings always with challenges. We should support all women for as long as they choose to and when they choose to stop. For me I didn't experience mood swings, only a little sadness when I knew we were done. Thanks for sharing your experience for others I'm sure it will help someone else.

    1. I agree! It's personal and unpredictable. I too feel that all women's decisions should be supported as long as the kids are cared for and loved. Women have to deal with so much already.

      Thanks for being here Theresa and sharing some of your experience as well. I hope that all of our experiences benefit one another. =)