Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing. It’s incredibly special, it’s powerful, and it’s cheap, and all those things are fabulous. But I’m gonna take a quick sec and say that the wonders of breastfeeding don’t show up until after the first month. That first month is out of control hard, and it will break you faster than you can say, “Please take this baby so I can take care of my bleeding nipples.” If you don’t consider giving up at least once a day, you’re next level amazing.
Okay. Moving on.
Once you make it through that first month, you’ll just be cruising along, keeping a human alive with this food source that your body just makes. At some point, though, either the baby is ready to be done or you are. So, you’ll have to start thinking how that’s going to go. And because you’re awesome and amazing, you’ll make it happen, and everyone will keep on living their best life. But did you know that some funky things can happen when it’s all said and done? Some cool things can happen too, but people talk about those.
This is what happened to me. This might not be true for everyone, and I’m certainly no expert, so take it for what it is. But I don’t think I need to throw out any ground-breaking research just to say that weird things happen when you stop sharing your body with another human.
1. Bring On the Water Works
I was so emotional. Like, postpartum emotional. And it was so intense that it felt like I was being hit by a tidal wave. My weaning process for both of my boys was pretty smooth, and I was definitely ready, but as soon as it was done I just wanted to go back to the way things were. I knew that would be confusing for my babe, and somehow I was able to remind myself that, in a normal state of mind, it wasn’t actually what I wanted. Just like those first few days (weeks? months?) after giving birth, I just had to ride it out. I had to give myself the space to be sad and grieve. And I needed someone to tell me that I was normal, that my feelings were normal, and that everything would level out soon enough.
If you don’t have someone to remind you of that, I’ll do it. You’re normal. Your emotions are normal. Everything will level out soon enough.
2. Cinnamon Roles to Pancakes
I had this moment when I laid back in the bathtub and each breast went in a different direction. I was like, errrr, that’s new. Then there was another time when I wasn’t wearing a bra and I was slouched over on the couch. I saw that my nipples weren’t too far away from touching my belly. I wouldn’t call it a party trick or anything, buuuut it was a little weird when I noticed it for the first time. So yeah. The sagging is legit.
This is a hard one because we’re conditioned to believe that our breasts are our source of power (and though our breasts are powerful, they’re not the source of our power!). So when they change and morph into a couple of floppy pancakes, we may get really pissed and sad about it. Totally normal. When that happened to me, I let myself be pissed for a sec then I grabbed one boob in each hand and said, “Thanks for keeping my babies alive.” It helped.
3. The Skin of a Teenager
And I’m not talkin’ the skin of a teenager when it’s free of wrinkles and sun spots. That’d be dope. I’m talking about the zits. I haven’t had a lot of skin issues thanks mostly to good genes, but for the first couple of months after I stopped breastfeeding I had so many zits popping up it looked like people were dropping pins all over my chin. I upped my skin care game, which made me feel like a real adult.
4. Oh Yeah. Periods.
I pretty much forgot these were still a thing. And after almost two years of not having a period, I felt like I had to learn everything all over again. Not to mention, that little asshole showed up within the first 24 hours of weaning. Not cool, sis. Not cool.
5. Your Bathroom Scale (Might) Still Suck.
Can we just stop saying that pregnancy weight just falls off if we breastfeed? It’s bullshit, it gives false hope, and I sort of think people started saying that just to get women excited about breastfeeding. Dropping the extra poundage may happen for some, but it just isn’t the case for everyone. After baby #1, I was able to lose all the weight and then some. Mainly because, once I was ready, I had more time to eat right and exercise. With Baby #2, it’s been a lot harder, and I even breastfed longer.
Then there’s that idea that if you haven’t lost your pregnancy weight, it’s because your body has chosen to hold onto the weight while you’re breastfeeding. Ya know, in case you lose all your food resources or something. The idea is that once you stop, that extra weight will just vanish into thin air. Blaaaaah. More lies.
My extra few pounds have found a happy home, and they’re basically not going anywhere unless I kick em out. I’m willing to be more mindful of the food I eat (no more excuse to gorge chocolate molten ice cream I guess), and I’m willing to try to get movin’ when I can, but you know what? Besides that, I just wanna say, fuck you, scale. There’s more to me than a number, and the energy I waste harping on myself for not going back to that number is starting to feel pretty worthless at this point. I just wanna love this body (extra squish and all), which can still be really freaking hard. More on that in the future.
Howevs, I will say after I stopped breastfeeding, my clothes did fit better and I got back into my pre pregnancy bras (no more nursing bras, yay!). Still, though, the scale didn’t move that much, so I’m just taking that as another sign that scales suck and they aren’t my true friends.
6. Breastfeeding Dreams
There were at least three consecutive nights when I dreamt that the baby was crying and picked him up and started breastfeeding. In the dream I knew that we had weaned, but he was just so happy to have my boobs back. I’m assuming this was because of my own guilt since I was the one who decided to stop, and I also just missed our little nursing moments.
7. The Joys of Freedom
I remembered the fine taste of freedom. This is what kept me going even with the (unnecessary) guilt, the intense emotional swings, and the longing to go backwards. Knowing that I could leave the house ALONE for more than two hours at a time was liberating. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one who could put him to bed was a relief. My schedule, my wardrobe, my entire LIFE would no longer have to revolve around when my sweet little nugget needed to nurse. And as hard and as sad as it was to end that beautiful part of my life, it felt good to start feeling more and more like my old self.
Sheesh. It’s a wild ride isn’t it? All the twists and turns that we’re forced to learn along the way. But you can handle anything.
Ur a Mom Now.