Two months ago, when I was still breastfeeding Isaya, I was talking to a dear friend at the playground. Both of our babies where playing in the sand and I told her my breastfeeding days were almost over. The past year whenever this topic came up, most people asked me, ‘when are you going to stop?’ But she is not most people, so she asked me ‘why are you going to stop?’. Her question caught me off guard. I stammered ‘I don’t know, I guess I have to’. She told me it was okay to stop if I wanted to, but was just curious about ‘the why’ because both Aya and I loved it so much. I thought a little more about what she asked and then gave her my reasons.
Aya weaned over a month ago. The first two weeks after I stopped breastfeeding I could not, for the life of me, recollect what my reasons for stopping were. I felt sad it was over. I regretted my choice. I could see that Isaya wasn’t bothered by it though. She wasn’t asking for my breast, she drank her soy and oat milk without complaint and was her happy self. It did seem like she was more cuddly than before. But her hugs are so perfect I didn’t mind that at all! Because I followed her needs and wants when it came to breastfeeding and stopping, she was ready when it was over. And I’m very happy about that. But maybe I forgot to check in with myself during that process?
Bye Bye Boobs
Because it was mostly me who had trouble adjusting. And here is why. For over fifteen months I could give my daughter something no one else could. I realize that, as her mother, I am still irreplaceable and very important to her. But it’s different. This breastfeeding connection was something only we shared. It also made me feel competent: not only did I know what she needed, I was able to produce this for her with my own body.
I remember that, after Isaya was born, one of the reasons I enjoyed baby wearing so much was that it felt a bit like an extended pregnancy. For nine months she had been ‘mine’. I didn’t have to share her with anybody. When she was born all of a sudden the world wanted to hold her. I know that sounds self-evident, but I wasn’t ready to share her with anybody but my wife. Baby wearing enabled me to keep her close. I guess breastfeeding did the same. Aya needed me, so I had a legitimate reason to keep her as close as I wanted.
Now that the breastfeeding is over we have entered a new phase, in which Aya is even less dependent on me. This is exciting and so much fun. But it’s also scary and sad. I needed a minute to mourn and adjust. Also – and all you busty ladies out there: don’t underestimate what I’m about to share next! – I was shocked by the fact that my bra size immediately went down two sizes. I had become so used to my considerable bosom. When I became pregnant and then, when I started breastfeeding, I finally had boobs, for the first time in my life. And now they are gone! Yup, that sucked.
Post Breastfeeding System Re-boot
Another thing that kind of shocked me after I stopped breastfeeding, was the hormonal blast that hit me, out of nowhere. I was not prepared for this – I had never read about it, or heard other moms talk about it. But the first week I felt genuinely depressed. I still felt in control of my thoughts and feelings, to some degree, but a darkness surrounded everything I thought and felt. I knew it was hormones, but it was still a very strange and unsettling experience. The darkness lifted after a week and two weeks later I spoke to my friend from the intro and she helped me remember my reasons for stopping.
I still regret it though. Maybe that’s because my biggest reason for stopping, was the hope that Isaya would start sleeping through the night once she was weaned. That did not happen. I am okay with that. I am prepared to deal with her sleeping needs for as long as it takes. But it does make me regret not breastfeeding her anymore. Having said that, Aya is thriving and is not bothered by the lack of breastmilk in her life. And that, to me, is the most important thing.