“It was no longer cute. I mean this little princess would demand breast milk one minute, and the next she is sliding down my lap, nipple in mouth to go dance-along with Mickey and friends…..then proceed to return once she was done, about 5 minutes later.”
The choice to breastfeed or not is a personal choice and in my opinion an emotional one. Some moms struggle with it physically as well as emotionally, and for some like me, it was really a no-brainer. The experience was nothing short of beautiful….at times, when it was just the two of us, in a quiet house looking into each other’s eyes and twirling our fingers together; it was in those moments where I would remember the depths of love I had for my child.
It was in those moments that I realised just how much my little girl needed me. In that moment no one else could give her what I could… (I mean I could express breast milk, but I didn’t want to, also she absolutely refused the bottle).
I began to understand that my breast wasn’t purely for her nourishment; it was her safe place, her comfort. Whenever she was unhappy and crying my breast was the calm in her storm. The more I breastfed the more I enjoyed it, I would feel such pride rocking her cradled in my arms as she sucked.
When she reached a year old, things changed fairly quickly. The sweet little baby yearning for mama’s kaka became something akin to a terrorist holding me hostage until I whipped out her breast…not mine, but hers. As the months rolled on she became more confident and assertive about what she wanted, she knew exactly what she wanted and boy did it taste good. I began to realise that my body was no longer my own. This little person really believed she owned my boobs because they contained something that was rightfully hers-kaka!!!
My decision to wean was made with much trepidation. I wanted my body back period, but I felt guilty about weaning her. The biting, the smacking, having my top pulled down (without notice especially in public), the tantrums… It was no longer cute. I mean this little princess would demand breast milk one minute, and the next she is sliding down my lap nipple in mouth to go dance-along with Mickey and friends…..then proceed to return once she was done, about 5 minutes later. I love her to bits, but that was nothing short of abuse really! In any case, the decision to wean was very easy. The process, however -a whole different monster.
Oh, the things they (other moms) downplay regarding motherhood. The things they don’t tell you about pregnancy, and childbirth, let’s throw weaning in there as well. I knew it would be challenging, but challenging isn’t nearly the tip of the iceberg. This is my personal experience, and as with all things motherhood, weaning is too. I do believe, however, that mothers who have exclusively breastfed can relate on some level.
Normally I read up on these things, do a little research, to be somewhat “prepared” ( you can never be prepared though-never, no matter how much you read and research) but this time I didn’t, I was too busy being mommy. I woke one day, and it was the scheduled date of weaning her off (did I mention daddy was the driving force behind the decision, yes, date setting and all. My soft mommy skills were too soft for his liking). She nursed for the very last time that morning, after 18 months it was time to stop and so off she went to her grandmothers.
Now, some moms are lucky enough to have that kind of support, other moms have to employ more harsh and drastic measures. Some moms advised me to use chilli on my nipples, others suggested bitters and some said, “let her cry it out”….I couldn’t bring myself to do any of the above. So off we go day 1, not bad at all….skip to day 3, the emotions began to set in, It dawned on me that my baby is growing up, and no longer needs me in that way anymore. I began to ask myself, how I was now going to bond with her in a way that no one else in this world can. What is going to be our “special mommy and baby” time.
Breastfeeding my baby was for me such a cornerstone in my role as a mother, that I never stopped to think about how my motherhood would evolve when I weaned her off. It really sounded silly, but that is where my emotions went. As the days rolled on, my breasts ached more and more ( all that milk with nowhere to go-excruciating pain), my heart was sore from missing my little girl, not being able to soothe and comfort her the best way I had known to do for over a year. It was really a necessary adjustment for us both- painful but necessary nonetheless.
Having an understanding and supportive husband made all the difference. Most men probably won’t get why it could be such a big deal to their wives. Here’s the thing, the process affects all moms in different measures, and it also affects the babies differently. A patient husband and father make all the difference.
For all the dad’s out there ( if there are any) reading this, go the extra mile to make mommy’s pain bearable, to make her a little more comfortable, rest assured the pain is not over exaggerated, and no she isn’t whining. Step up and take on a little more with the baby, poor thing isn’t dealing too well with the weaning process either. Exercise a little patience with mommy and baby; within a week the storm will have passed and most likely you will have a new appreciation for your wife (partner) and motherhood.
The aftermath of the weaning has been surprisingly wonderful. Just as expected my motherhood evolved and nature has a way if setting things “right”. My relationship with my toddler is a little different; we have certainly found other ways to bond in a way that no other can- minus the bearable clinginess. I can more and more sense what she needs and wants and I am better able to cater to her needs without the comfort of the kaka. Yes of course here and there she asks for it, and we giggle and joke about the lack of kaka, but no more tears.
Weaning is such a necessary part of process and the results are far more rewarding than I would’ve imagined.