Breast Weaning Woes

I’m categorizing this blog under the Public Service category because somethings just need to be said, that no one said to me.  And also because I feel the need to vent.

I’m a little bit peeved at the female race right now.  Yes, women, you.  Don’t point at yourself with your eyebrows raised in surprise like that.  Yes, you.  I’m feeling a bit uninformed, a bit left out in the cold, and a whole LOT OF  shocked at the fact that nobody told me how painful weaning my baby from breast-feeding would be.

To my male readers:  don’t check out quite yet, I have something for you too.

To the mothers out there:  you told me how much pregnancy sucks, you told me how painful labor would be, you warned me of the pain of beginning breast-feeding, how badly it hurt when they latched on. You told me about the hard recovery from a c-section, the hormonal swings, the postpartum depression.  But no one, I mean NO ONE mentioned how painful weaning would be.

I chose to breast feed because I believe in it.  I believe in its goodness.  I never expected to last 6 months, never mind last a year and onward.  My little EK loves to nurse.  She asks for it all the time.  “muck”.  It has been beneficial to her, to her health, to our bonding, etc., etc., etc.  I could go on.

I must be honest, I felt a little weird nursing a toddler, even though deep down I knew I shouldn’t.  But Western Society sexualizes the breast, rather than embracing its intended function and breast feeding a toddler or older is frowned upon.  Dare I even say stigmatized.

I slowly began to wean the baby around 12 months.  First we night weaned, then we began dropping a feeding here and there.  Finally we were down to 2 feedings a day.  I kept it like this for several weeks.  And then the tantrums began.  When I had to postpone her desire for “muck”, she got mad.  She cried.  She pouted.  She hit whatever was closest, sometimes me.

This past Thursday, after a hitting episode, I just said.  “no more, there’s no more milk”.  I’ve stuck to it, but it’s a lie.  It’s one big whopper of a lie, because let me tell you folks, there’s still milk.  There’s a lot milk.  And my bosoms are engorged!  The pain is almost unbearable.  They’re hard, and hot, and lumpy and leaky.  Originally XS, they’ve expanded to a size XXX.  It’s not fun.

To my male readers:  I think I now know how it feels to have testicles.  You know how you guys are always protecting yours?  I get that now.   If something comes near you; a ball, a small child, you instinctively put your hands up to guard your jewels.  I get that now.  Because they hurt.  And especially when they get bumped.  I get that.  You have no idea how much I get that now.   I cry out like a little girl.  And feel like hitting back whoever or whatever has bumped them.

You have no idea how badly I want to allow my girl to nurse again to relieve the pain and discomfort, but I feel like I would really be taking 300 steps backward.  She still asks for her “muck” but the fits have stopped and she seems to be happy with substitute nourishment and comfort.  It’s not really her suffering from weaning.  It’s me.

I think I did this the smart way.  I weaned gradually.  There was no “cold turkey” .  And yet, I still have an overabundance of supply.  I’ve pumped a little just to grant myself an ounce (pun intended) of relief.   And now I have cabbage leaves in my bra as a home remedy to help drain and dry up.  So guess what?  Not only do I hurt, I am uncomfortable, I am downright grouchy, but now……I smell like slaw.  All I lack is fried chicken.  Just add that to my woes.

Which brings me to my advice.  To all you young mothers or ladies thinking of becoming a mother or thinking of breast-feeding.  Do it, it is a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong, the benefits are astounding.

But  for me it has not been a piece of cake to wean, I’m here to tell you.

Since no one else will.


But can anyone bring me some fried chicken?


When our little girl was born, she had to go to the NICU.  We had had a very difficult labor, not like all labor and deliveries aren’t difficult, but if my memory serves me correctly, it was no walk in the park.  They ended up taking me for a C-section.  They were concerned about the amount of meconium (first fetal poop often caused by distress) in the amniotic fluid and if she were to aspirate it into her lungs, it could cause serious problems.

I remember lying there on the surgery table and feeling such an awesome bond to my anesthesiologist who sat at my head.  He talked to me and answered my questions about what was going on.   Of course J-Dub was there and a team of doctors and nurses working together like a well oiled machine.  I asked the anesthesiologist, “Have they started cutting yet?”  And he replied, “You’re wide open.”   There was a bunch of tugging and violent pulling, and then there was Emma Kate.  I remember Jason repeating over and over, “She’s fine.  She’s fine.  She’s fine.”


And I heard her cry.  Then they showed her to me, and she was fine.   I remember asking the nurse if I could see my placenta, because I wanted to see my baby’s life source for the past 41 weeks.  She held up a pink hospital basin with a lot of green tissue in it.  She told me it was so green because of the meconium.

The next thing I remember I was lying on a bed in a room with a lady sitting across from me.  Not even a hospital room, but more like a staff work room.  There were lockers against one wall, and hospital people would come through and exit a door across the way.  The round woman sat against the lockers on a rolling chair, her big arms resting on her stomach.

“What are you doing?”  I asked her when I was awakening from my fog.
“Watching you,” she answered. ”
“To make sure you wake up and recover,” she said.
“What a boring job you have.”  I told her.
“Sometimes,” she agreed.

We sat there, she staring at me while I drifted in and out of sleep.

Then Jason came in, squatted by my head and told me they were taking Emma Kate to the NICU because she was having trouble breathing, and a doctor followed him in the room rolling her in her little isolette.  She was lying in there, swaddled in a blanket, with a little cap on her head, and I could hear her grunting with each breath.  He explained that they originally thought everything was okay, but then she began grunting, and they wanted to give her some oxygen and get her breathing regularly.  She was then rolled away from her mama, away from the very person she needed to be nearest.  I had only gotten to touch her once and wouldn’t be able to touch her again for several hours.

We had to wait nearly 24 hours before we could hold her.  And then nearly 48 hours before she could breast feed.   When we finally nursed, I wrote on my facebook wall that she was like “a hog at the trough”.  She looked like a bird in the nest getting a worm from her mama, her mouth rooting around searching desperately for the milk that would sustain her.  The nurse on duty remarked, “She’s going to be a breast baby, I can tell it.  Look how big she opens her mouth.”

Breast baby is a more professional way of saying titty baby, which is what she was and still is.  We didn’t have the breast feeding problems many other mothers have: not being able to latch on, not producing enough, the pain, the tenderness.  In fact,  my biggest problem was that I was a milk machine.  Abundant milk supply.  When my body finally told my “bottles” how much they needed to produce, it got much easier.

I believe as strongly in the benefits of breast milk as I believe in the Holy Trinity.  Powerful stuff.  I wanted Emma to have breast milk, but I didn’t know how long I would actually last nursing EK.  I knew it was in her best interest, even if it was a pain for me.  I thought I would try it for about 3 months, then 3 months turned  to 6 and 6 turned into 9, the more time passed the easier it became, and today at 12.5 months we are still breastfeeding.  There have been so many times in the past year I have felt tied down and trapped.  I couldn’t leave her for more than 3 hours at a time.   There were times when everyone ate supper except me because I was nursing the baby in the next room.  There was the loss of sleep, the 7 weeks of pumping during my lunch break and conference time  when I returned to work, then afterwards the refusal to take a bottle, so back to not being able to leave her for more than 3 hours.  It has been a huge sacrifice, HUGE, but I’m glad that I endured.

Now the weaning process begins.  She has a terrible sleep/nurse association thinking she needs to nurse in order to sleep, waking up several times a night.  It just finally became too much for me.  I know that I am way behind, but I just night weaned her 4 days ago.    She is waking less and less and actually slept 9 hours the other night, straight through with no wakings. This is huge for us!!!   I was up at 4:00 a.m.  twiddling my thumbs, but at least everyone else got a good nights sleep.  I should have night weaned her months ago, but was just too concerned that she might actually be hungry or was usually too tired to attempt to wean.

So now she’s sleeping more, eating more solid foods and relying on breast milk less and less.  The past year my sleep deprived, breast engorged, nursing bra-clad self has longed for this moment.  Getting my freedom back.  Getting my hormones back.  Getting my bra size back (maybe not a good thing).   And now that it’s here,  yes you guessed it, I’m a little sad.   My little  baby is growing up.  As trying as breast feeding is, it is also a precious time of bonding, cuddling, gazing into your baby’s face.  And now this season is ending for us.  The next season stands in waiting, peeking from behind the curtain, watching for its cue to enter stage right.  Even though I know I shouldn’t, I will complain about that season too.  I will long for it to end, whatever it be.  Somedays I will wish it away, wish her on to the next season.

Then a day will come when it is gone too, and I will sit with my memories.

For in the end, that is all we really have.