After 27 months of breastfeeding, R weaned a few weeks ago. We began the weaning process just after his second birthday in May, but I wanted to move slowly. He is my last baby; since I won't be breastfeeding ever again, I really wanted to make sure it was something we were both ready for.
Over the course of a week, we moved from a few times a day down to just nap/bed time. That slowly transitioned to once every few days. After about 5 days of not nursing, I started to notice a change in my mood: I went from feeling normal to feeling really angry, I had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, I didn't want to leave the house, I was exhausted despite doing next to nothing all day. I recognized these symptoms as matching up with my postpartum depression and anxiety. After speaking to my husband, he acknowledged that my behavior seemed to have changed drastically.
I bet you can guess what I did next. I put that toddler back to the breast for two reasons: I was starting to feel full/uncomfortable, and I didn't want to go down that road again. Depression during or after weaning is not unusual (read more here and here), but it is not studied very often. Many moms report feeling sadness or grief, especially if they weaned before they were ready to do it. If you notice symptoms of depression in yourself during or after weaning, please reach out to your health care provider ASAP. You're not alone in your emotions!
Over the next few days, I made sure to nurse once a day (usually bed time) while doing the things my therapist suggested I do to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. I noticed my mood stayed more normal (whatever that means) and I felt better emotionally. One night, R didn't want to nurse. He said, "no, Mommy," and cuddled up to me instead. That was that, he was done. I haven't offered since that night and it has been about 2 weeks since he last showed an interest in breastfeeding. We had made it 27 and a half months. Now when I ask him if he wants milk, he runs to the fridge in the kitchen. Yup, definitely done.
I'm sad to see this chapter in my life end. It helped me reduce my risk of certain types of cancer, helped my sons reduce their risk for diabetes and other chronic illnesses, and it made them healthy and strong. Breastfeeding not only helped me nourish my sons, it helped give me a focus and direction in my life. My journey with my oldest helped me realize that I wanted to support and advocate for breastfeeding mothers. To say it played a big role in my life would be an understatement. You wouldn't be reading this blog post without it!
While there is sadness, there is also joy. Joy in the next chapter of my life as a mother, in wearing shift dresses, in sharing my experience with others in hopes of helping them. Now I will have to parent without my breasts, which is both thrilling and scary. I'll still be discussing breastfeeding and #bfingstyle on the blog, that is one thing that won't change. With that, I raise this large glass of wine or cup of coffee, depending on what time it is as you read this, to my breasts. Thank you for nourishing my babies, for helping define me in such a big way, and for not completely disappearing now that breastfeeding is over.