She weaned and I cried

Our Breastfeeding Journey

It was a Saturday night almost a year ago when I became unexpectedly upset as I ended my shower. Hubby had already started settling Miss T for bed. It had suddenly dawned on me that the Tuesday night just past might have been the last time I would ever breastfeed my daughter, my first child, our little miracle, and I hadn’t expected that. I felt a great rise of emotion that I can only assume was grief. And it shocked me. I had always assumed we would have a clear plan for weaning, our final little ritual, and that I would just know when it would be the last time.

Miss T had not fed to sleep for 3 days. The past couple of nights I had tried to express and see if anything was left. Both times I had a drop but that was it. The realisation that my milk might dry up really hit me. Because, even if she was not ready, if my milk was gone, then it would be over. Just, over. The emotions, when faced with that possible reality, slapped me in the face and I just started sobbing…….

I finally calmed myself and went into her bedroom. I told hubby not to be concerned if I looked upset but saying it out loud set me off and my sobbing began again. I didn’t want to upset my daughter by crying, but it was hard to hold back. Hubby understood what I was saying and that I was upset and he let me put her to bed. As he was leaving her room, he told me he loved me and he told her too.

I picked her up and sat her on my lap. Part of me, a big selfish part, hoped she might want a feed. The other part of me said I might cause her to regress and I should resist. She didn’t initially ask for a feed but after a few minutes she did. She was offering me “my last time” and I took it without hesitation.

Knowing the significance of the moment, all my actions were done purposefully. As she fed, I made myself aware of how it felt. It wasn’t painful, like it had been at times during our breast-feeding journey beginning with her birth. It wasn’t annoying, like it had been starting to feel in the lead up to that night. And for a change, I didn’t really even mind her wandering, fondling hands whilst she drank. She was quite tired so it wasn’t a frenzied feed. I could feel her sucking, though not too hard or vigorously and I could feel the gentle motion of her teeth on my breast tissue as she nursed. She didn’t bite me accidentally. It was comfortable and calm. She didn’t seem concerned about a lack of milk so maybe there was some after all. Or maybe she was comfort sucking.

When I sensed she was drifting, I unlatched her. She protested oh so mildly. I cradled her, then laid her in her cot. She fussed slightly, asking for “mich” but I gently told her she didn’t need it anymore and started patting her. She very quickly drifted to sleep, and that, was it.

Our breastfeeding journey had been a long and mostly enriching one, despite a few distressing bumps along the way. Some mothers never get to breastfeed successfully. Others have babies who self-wean before they realise it and they never get to say, “Goodbye”. At least, that night, I felt I had closure. I had once last chance to feed her and say my, “Goodbye”.

In years to come, she won’t even remember it. No one remembers being breastfed or weaned. It was another one of those things on the long list of many things I know I will have to learn to let go of as my children grow. And I can only imagine there will be many more moments in years to come that will bring tears to my eyes and slight sorrow to my heart. But these milestones have to be made in order for our children to become who they are meant to be.

She was almost 18 months by then. She was ready to be weaned and I knew that. It was really I, who had to let go.

Did you have a plan for weaning or a little ritual to say goodbye? Did you grieve when it ended? Or were you “oh so” ready?

**********

I’ve written this in support of World Breastfeeding Week.

**********

I’m flogging my blog with Where’s My Glow’s FlogYoBlog Friday (FYBF) and playing Things I Know with Shae from Yay for Home!

FYBF

Advertisements

48 thoughts on “She weaned and I cried

  1. This post almost brings me to tears. What a beautiful description and a beautiful breastfeeding relationship you had. I am sure the bond is still strong and beautiful now because of what you shared then. Thank you for sharing this precious moment.

    • Thanks for visiting. I think it’s very obvious to me how special that intimate time can be now I am breastfeeding my second baby. I think my toddler misses those cuddles sometimes and has been asking for a lot more of them of late.

  2. Beautiful beautiful post Veronica, I’m all teary.

    I don’t remember my eldest’s last feed even though I quite deliberately weaned him (it was Christmas day, he was 3) nor my big girl’s (she was 5 lol!).

    I hope to remember when my little two wean though. It’s such a journey and you have captured it beautifully ❤

    • Thanks much. I’m a bit blown away by how many mums feel similar. I guess breastfeeding is more than just nutrition for bubs, huh? I hope you do get the chance to wean your bub and make it memorable. I hope to get the chance to remember the moment with my 5 month old too.

  3. What a lovely, bitterweet story. Glad that your breastfeeding experience, though it included some down times, ended on an overall positive note.

  4. What a beautiful rememberance of a new phase of your little ones life! You were really lucky to be able to say goodbye to something that meant so much to you. I had to wean my older daughter at 5 months, as she was losing weight and not flourishing on my milk 😦 My ‘baby’ who is now nearly three would have fed forever, but we weaned her at about 13 months when I went back to work. It was stressing the both of us out to be out of routine, and she swapped almost straight to cows milk.
    Sorry for the long story 😉 you brought back some bittersweet memories for me….

    • It is bittersweet isn’t it? I would never have imagined. My second bub feeds better than my first did. I hope to keep up as long as she wants too. I might be more aware of the signals for weaning this time and get to say “goodbye” before it’s over.

  5. You have me in tears. So beautiful and touching, and written so well. I was certain Tricky would wean when I went away last weekend and I did just what you did – I made sure I was there, focussing on everything that was happening… and then put him to bed and cried my eyes out, feeling like I was forcing him. When I came back he picked up where he left off.
    Congratulations on such a wonderful journey. We are privileged to be able to care for our children this way, especially when not everyone can.

    • Thank you for your kind words. It’s good you’ve got the chance to get back to it and wean when you are both ready, or as ready as possible. I’m a bit blown away by the response to this post. Before my experience, no one had ever really talked to me about the emotional side of weaning. Breast feeding is mostly talked about in terms of nutrition for bubs but there is more to it than that, isn’t there?

  6. My little Ava weaned completely cold turkey about two months ago with no warning, I was devastated. I expresse for a few weeks, hoping she would continue, but I eventually gave up. She was done, and that was it.
    As the last I still get quite upset when I think about it, but nothing I can do about now.

    • I know a couple of babies in my mother’s group weaned unexpectedly and early. Another friend started with EBM and now bub won’t take the boob. Everyone’s story is so different with so many twists and turns. Hopefully you have a photo or two to remember the moments. Those are the bittersweet moments parents have to accept as our kids grow up. Can’t say I’m looking forward to more. Hard on us, but so important to them.

  7. That was so beautiful. I have tears in my eyes after reading it. Sadly, my munchkins all self weaned – and all way too early in my opinion. I would sob my heart out while they blissfully continued on without it, but I felt like the worst mother in the world – not having that closure really hurts.

    Thank you so much for sharing xx

    • We hear the emotions in the brouhaha of getting them to breastfeeding from birth, but not so often the emotions about weaning. They are so real. You obviously did a great job breastfeeding and they got what they needed from you in that department. It’s hard, but it’s really about us saying goodbye, isn’t it? Not easy to do!

  8. Gorgeous story!

    I wish I had known the last time I fed the Boy that it was his late. At 14 months, he’d be losing interest in the breast fast but I guess I was in denial about it! His last feed was a Tuesday night at bedtime, Friday night came and I finally realised he hadn’t had a feed – and I cried.

    It’s bittersweet, isn’t it?
    x

    • After my first experience, I will take a loss of interest as a sign. I hope to feed my 5 month old till at least a year, but longer if possible. Even though I’ll know more what to expect second time around, I am sure it will still be bittersweet, especially since we are most likely done with our kids.

  9. That brings a tear to my eye. I breastfed Ella for 14 months and only stopped because expressing in the back office during my lunch hour became too much. With Baby Holly, I’m hoping to feed her as long as I can. This time, I’m working from home, so I have so much more flexibility. At 10 months of age now, I’m making the most of every feed. There will be quite a few tears shed here the day breastfeeding ends. I hope it’s a while off yet though. xx

    • I was worried about weaning my first earlier too since she was feeding to sleep and I couldn’t do that when she started childcare at 12 months. She never took the bottle. We got over that and lasted 6 extra months. I hope to feed my 5 month old as long as possible. Weaning is so emotional isn’t it?

    • It’s funny, (not haha funny), huh? a friend had to start with EBM but before she knew it, her bub didn’t want the boob. I know someone else who just never had supply. I think the emotions around feeding our babies, however we need to do it, are valid on all sides. The primary goal is a thriving baby, but it can be such an emotional journey, however we get there. Thanks for reading.

  10. I breastfed my first for 12 months and my second for 19 months. Both times they self weaned and I was all over the place both times. I cried and cried. I loved doing it and both times I never knew it was going to be the last time. I am glad I got lots of photos though, they are so precious to me.

    • Photos are what I treasure too. I hope I see the signs with my 5 month old so I don’t miss the chance to say goodbye when she’s ready to wean. Even though I’ll know what to expect, I imagine it’s still going to be a very emotional moment. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Oh! It’s so hard, isn’t it? I do know I eventually appreciated having my own body back fully so there are some upsides. I haven’t yet had the opportunity for new bras though since I was 3 months pregnant when i weaned my now toddler. But that’s not necessarily a real plus for me since I actually preferred my HotMilk maternity bras which have been way more fancy that my old, plain ones. 🙂

    • Thank you. I do treasure those photos and the couple of short videos I have, especially of both my girls early hospital feeds. They melt my heart each time I watch them.

  11. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s beautiful. Sweet memories.
    I was ready by the time my twins weaned (at 4yrs 3 months) I had to ‘led’ them , they would still be feeding I think.We had a rocky start and then they were so determined.

    • I take my hat off to you feeding twins in the first place and a second time for feeding them for that long! I can’t imagine it would have been easy. Double the challenges. Probably double the joys too. Sounds like you were able to close it off just right for your little family.

  12. What a beautiful, emotional story. I was never able to breastfeed successfully – the longest I lasted was 15 days with my now 15 month old but she was small and losing weight fast so I didn’t have much choice. I wish I could have had the experiences that so many of you have had but even though I wasn’t able to feed them myself they were able to have special time being fed by their dad & I still got to (and still do!) have cuddles and kisses with them. Thanks for sharing your special story and I hope you enjoy a lot more feeding time with your little one.

    • I can only imagine your disappointment. In the end, the most important thing is that they thrive. My daughter, in fact only started gaining weight about a month after birth so I was a little worried we’d have to give it up or supplement her feed but it all kicked in after the month and she became a very chubby little thing for a month or two till she grew more. My second has had no problems so far and I hope we keep it up for as long as possible, though I might say 2 years would be a cut-off, if not earlier. We’ll see. Thank you for dropping by.

  13. So beautifully and tenderly written. Tears in my eyes. Breastfeeding is so special. I have not experienced my two little ones weaning yet, but know there will be tears. Thanks for sharing your story. xxx

    • Thanks for your kind words. You’ve still got time to prepare for that day when they do wean. It can still take you by surprise so do keep an eye out for the signs of readiness. I the meantime, enjoy. I am with my 5 month old.

    • My toddler only fed before bed and overnight for a long while until hubby took over overnight settling. She still did feed at bedtime for a long while till I dropped settling her then too. She possibly would have continued for ages if I had been the one settling. But then I know some babies just stop out of the blue by about then. Savour each feed time, I guess, just in case. There are obviously some upsides to no longer feeding, but it is still bittersweet when they stop.

  14. The overwhelming emotion I sense, from reading the second half of your post, is calmness. Quite lovely.

    I fed all three of mine sucessfully – a thing I never presumed to take for granted. Each self weaned. I tandem fed for a while. I greedily fed my youngest for as long as she wanted it. You are right – no one recalls when they were weaned, or indeed the act of feeding. But I can recall the final feed for each. Bittersweet.

    Thank you for taking part in the Weekend Rewind.

    xx

    • Thanks for hosting the rewind. I’m in the midst of feeding my second and wondering about weaning all over again. This post, my past experience, will be forefront in my mind. She’s 9 months and at the moment she seems to want more rather than less. I did vow to feed my first for as long as she wanted but up until two. Wonder if we’ll go the distance this time round. I hope to make sure I’m present for whenever it happens.

  15. I have to say that I was ecstatic when Mr7 weaned himself at 12 months. I’d been about to try to work out how to get it done and he just sort of decided for himself. Mr4 took a bit longer, 15 months, and a bit more effort, but I wasn’t sorry to say goodbye to it then either. I think you know when you’re done with breastfeeding.

    • Your experience is interesting, Allison. First time round, I definitely wanted it to go for as long as possible, though I set 2 as the upper age limit. Now I’m feeding the little one, who is 9 months, I must say I have a tiny hope she’ll self-wean earlier than 18 months. I guess I got used to not having a baby “attached” to me in the intervening periods. (I feel guilty just saying that!) Having said that, I still want to her to self-wean which, in her currently acquired separation-anxious state, seems like it will never happen. But in the big scheme of things, it’s just a short window of time in both our lives. I will cope and hopefully relish it till the end.

  16. Out of my 3 breastfeed boys, my middle son was the most emotionally tough to finish. The last time, as he fed i cried and I swear we both knew. He and I have a link that feels like electricity since his warm dry cheek was placed against mine after he was born. So no surprise really. Beautiful post. Popping by from the Rewind

    • Thanks for dropping by, Lisa, and sharing your experience. Even now, as I feed my second at 9 months, I do feel it’s a little different than my first. I’m not sure how long she’ll go but my upper limit was 2 years. I must say I hope it will be a little earlier than that though it doesn’t seem likely to happen if her behaviour and desires are is anything to go by!

    • Thanks. Bittersweet is exactly right! I am finding much about parenting to define as “bittersweet”. I think I used to only use that word for chocolate! But it truly was a special moment. I hope to be ready when my 9 month old reaches that stage.

Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s