Stopping Breastfeeding: Embracing Feelings of Loss and Relief

The 2nd of July signaled two weeks since I decided it was time to stop breastfeeding my son. I celebrated this milestone with a bottle of my favorite beer, Kuche Kuche while staring at my sleeping beautiful boy. It hit me that the reason why I was celebrating was because, for the first time since I stopped breastfeeding, I did not wake up feeling guilty. Rather, I woke up feeling relieved.

When I gave birth in December 2021, I could not breastfeed my baby. Milk literally could not get out of my boobs, or for a better phrase, the production had not started yet. Having undergone a c-section, I was told it was normal for the milk production to delay as the body has not sent a memo to the boobs yet that the person we were housing had been evicted.

Those that followed my journey on the short-lived Becoming a Mommy blog might remember that a day after being born, my son got sick. He was diagnosed with an infection and had to be taken to the nursery immediately. For close to six days, I had to drag my unhealed body to the nursery every two hours to feed. Unfortunately, nothing came out of my boobs no matter how hard the boy sucked. And boy, did he try.

By the second day of visiting him at the nursery, I was overwhelmed with guilt because I could not provide him with the one thing that he needed the most. His loud cries told me that he was hungry, but my body could give him nothing. I would come back to my room after the visitation time was done, and cry. I felt like I was failing at motherhood.

Seeing how distressed both me and my baby were, my darling aunt (bless her) who was a nurse at the same hospital suggested I sneaked in formula to feed the baby while I waited for the production to kickstart. And I did so gladly. By day five, my boobs had started giving him a little something.

In no time, I was a certified milk factory to my son.

decision to stop breastfeeding

I was always very unsure of when I would wean him off, I kept changing the dates and kept coming up with excuses. One of the biggest deciding factors was teething. I noticed that he would not get sick like other babies do when teething, however, he would have a loss of appetite and would deny food altogether.

A picture of my son, Evan
stopping breastfeeding

He would solely depend on breastfeeding to keep him by, and I never wanted to deprive him of that. As he turned a year old, I was convinced that I would only stop breastfeeding him when his canines had come out. Unfortunately for me, all other teeth decided to come out before the damned canines.

So each month, I would push the final date just a bit further. Before I knew it, we were in June and had a child who suddenly loved his milk so much more than solid foods. Each day, I would receive phone calls from his nanny complaining that he couldn’t eat. In his own words, “mommy, beye (boobie)”.

At his monthly check-up, the doctor asked why he had a drastic weight loss, to which our answer was his lack of eating and dependence on breastfeeding. After explaining, he advised that it was time to cut out the boob from his diet.

We went from using plasters taped on the boobies, which he removed; to using aloe vera which did the job perfectly. Afterward, I had to deal with engorgement and body aches, which tested my resilience. I would wake up in the middle of the night and dream of just putting him back on the boob so the pain would end.

When the pain was gone, I had to face my biggest fear, LOSS.

loss and guilt

I did not imagine the amount of guilt I would be engulfed with after weaning him. Every time I looked at him, I felt so horrible, my heart ached. I felt like I had cut him off a bit quicker than I should have considering how late the milk came. And each time he would say ‘boobie’, the guilt would increase more.

Then there were the feelings of losing the biggest bond I have ever known. Especially because during this week, I had moved him from my bed to my mom’s own to help with the transition.

It felt like I was losing my baby and the realization that he was actually growing.

Throughout this process, I thrived on the online support I got on Twitter from fellow moms and dads as well. I had people check in on me every day to see how I was doing. My favorite part, was when a fellow mom voluntarily explained that the feelings of loss would go if I started building a different bond with my son.

During the second week of weaning, I started having cuddle sessions with him before bedtime. We watch car racing videos as those are his favorite, before the bedtime stories. And I am learning to love our new normal.

Also, what’s not to love when I can come back to drinking my beer and wine?

feelings of relief

The one feeling I have been trying not to feel is relief, I thought it would demean the guilt that I was feeling. But after embracing the loss and working through it, I feel relieved.

I finally feel like I have my body back. One thing I never thought about whilst breastfeeding was that it still felt like I was sharing parts of my body with the baby. I never truly had my body back to myself, and now it is all mine again.

Overall, this was a hard moment in my life. One I am glad to have dealt with. And to fellow moms, you are superhumans for going through this much of pain, loss, guilt and having to rediscover yourself. It is not the easiest thing one can go through.

What is your weaning story? If you are a dad, how did you support your partner during the process? Comment below.

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