Sunday, December 16, 2007

Breastfeeding: The Last Chapter

I thought I had written my last post about breastfeeding. I was wrong.

On December 5th, I had the "last time" experience. I wasn't really ready for it and didn't know what was in store for me. Simply put, I became a nut job.

It was a few days before her first birthday when I stopped breastfeeding all together. I had been down to feeding the babe every 24 hours when she indicated she was ready to end this phase of our lives together. It took me by surprise. After a year of almost exclusive breastfeeding, I didn't think it was going to be this easy.

Within approximately 30 hours I became extremely sore and was having serious trouble sleeping at night. The worst part was that I started feeling like I was on an emotional roller coaster. I was crying numerous times a day and felt really desperate. It was almost comparable to the "post partum blues" so many of us experience (feeling a lack of control coupled with the desire to burst into tears over the smallest of things). Not pretty.

After 3 days of this, I knew I had to do something about the situation. It was the babe's first birthday party and I wouldn't be able to make it through the way I was feeling. I could barely carry her because it hurt so badly when she banged into my chest. I had packed away my pump weeks ago thinking I was done with it. But after my shower, I unpacked my Medela and pumped for 5 minutes. It was ecstasy. I got 6 ounces and felt like a million bucks.

I was happy the babe would have one more solid bottle of breast milk before we called it quits. I'll admit I was very offended when she wouldn't drink it. I couldn't believe it was her last time having breast milk and she didn't want it. It took 3 tries for her to take 2 ounces. She was overdue for a bottle, so I broke down and gave her a bottle of formula. She sucked the whole thing back happily. That's when I really knew there was no turning back.

I told my husband that weaning is kind of like kicking a drug habit. You just want one more fix to feel better, then you can quit. After my last pumping session, I thought I would need to pump every few days until the milk dried up. It's now been 12 days and I haven't had to whip out the pump again. I can officially say my breasts are empty (and much smaller) now. It's a very weird feeling.

All in all, weaning has been a crazy experience which has involved a lot of emotion and sleepless nights. I don't think the hormonal changes have finished their course as I'll admit I'm still feeling a bit wacky. It's been almost 2 years since my body was "normal" and I guess it's understandable that it will take a few weeks for it to sort itself out.

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