I feel all sorts of emotions. I feel like I should have a reason to stop nursing, a good justifiable reason, so that I will not be judged for not nursing long enough, or for nursing too long. I have this feeling inside of me that no matter what i will do it wrong. I need to remind myself, it is my way. No one else as I am the one going thru it. yes it effects others but it really and truly is my choice.
I feel sad most days.
Sad because its over.
Sad because I really love the way my milk can show up in a way that My personality couldn’t.
It was always there, it was always warm, comforting and available. NO MATTER WHAT. I felt like it carried me, too. And I feel nervous among other things that I am not able to show up in any other way for him because my personality and my moods are like a roller coaster at times.
We began to wean him months ago, he was no longer having milk in the night and we were all sleeping better. Then I went on a trip just me and the kids. I nursed him at night because I was worried his cries would wake the rest off the house and that I would be judged. Instead of thinking and acting rationally about this, I just put my nipple into his willing mouth and let me drink. His soft fleshy hands gently grabbing at my plump breast, his gentle gulps and the noises he made. ~swoon.~ I lay there thinking, remember this Alissa, for it will be gone, like everything else. remember. I would count slowly to 15 willing my focus to be right there with him for each breathe. How many times had I taken nursing for granted? Being on my phone while he nursed. zoning out, or multi tasking. I suppose you gotta do what you gotta do and that no one is perfect and yet I feel guilty. In retrospect that I could have showed up better, that I let myself down. These thoughts are real but they don’t consume me, at the same time I feel as if I have done a tremendous job, nursing, comforting and being with him. I am attempting to share the whole gamut of my thoughts and feelings around my experience.
Anyhow once we returned from our trip, nighttime was hard again and my husband was irritated, it was him you see who lost now, because all the work and sleepless nights he had put into calming him in the night, he was having to redo. I am not sure what happened next but I began nursing him right on thru the night. My nipples were raw each morning, and Casey and I didn’t speak of it. the rawness or the fact that I was now nursing thru the night.
Yet– I felt like super woman that I was able to provide in this way.
I felt attached to how Sven slept and I used it as a reflection of me, and how well I was doing being a mother. exhausting} Not so loud and big out there for everyone to see, but underneath, I said it to myself. And if I gave him milk, most everyone (except me) slept pretty well. So without being real and honest about my needs I kept on keeping on.
I dropped my morning practice (again) _ from about 4 months – 12 months I had been waking up even 20 min early to have a little movement, a little quiet, and a little writing….and a lot of coffee.
Near his 1 year birthday, I felt like sleep was more important.
I honestly feel like I could sleep for a year and still be behind. also my dream vacation right now is a dark quiet room, with a comfortable bed, and no guilt. for 4 days minimum. I feel guilty just writing it, even though I know I “should” feel great about taking care of me.
Sat evening, I had to tell my husband that I was nervous that I would blame him for us “having” to stop nursing, that I didn’t want him to be the reason why I stopped and that it was hard to get to this choice on my own. I sat and felt into, is this really my choice. and if not now when. nursing is not the thing that you can just take a break from. you stop and you are done. I nursed ruby till she ways 26 months old. Weaning her was a much different experience.
what did I FEEL? I had to move my body, and get clear inside of my body before my mind would be of any help. right now i just felt fear and doubt and a lot of self judgment.
That sunday morning I also started my period, my second regular one since having him, this was also an internal cue for me. My body was using yet more energy inside of me to move forward to shed and to keep going, and making milk is a powerful and intense job for any woman body. It is a gift, I feel so grateful that I was able to spend time with myself and him in this way. I am grateful my 10 year old daughter was able to witness breastfeeding with a conscious memory, and I am grateful for the way I showed up to support that.
I asked for this whole day to myself. I cried first thing in the morning, as I knew it would be the last time he nursed. He came into the world nursing from my left nipple and finished on the right. It just happened that way. I had been talking to him for a whole week about how things were going to change and doing my best to not offer milk, only give to him at his request, which to be fair on most days was early in the morning before leaving the bedroom and just after dinner.
I would miss his little hand squeezing to make the asl milk sign, and his cute little squeals saying please mama. if only audible the ugh ugh ugh.
I felt him. and I knew he felt me, our connection was and still is amazing. and yet letting go was hard.
As we came down to breakfast I told him, with the whole family around. that I was grateful to have fed him since he was a tiny baby a tiny teeny little cell, and that my body was able to feed him and to help him grow so strongly and boldly. I told him how happy that made me and my body, and that I loved him very much and nothing could ever change that. ever.
I then handed him a special cup that I had purchased a few days prior and I told him , it was time for him to feed himself, that I would help him to learn and so would his papa but that it is his time.
letting go is the name of the game.
it is still hard.
He looked at me, and I just know he understood.
He took his cup gleefully and sucked at its straw, papa helping to make the nessecary adjustments.
I made myself scarce this day.
I was meant to have some alone time with Ruby, but she was invited to go to the pool with a friend.
And so I set up an alter, asking for support and ease as I transition from this role, and to honor myself with the experience, and to move forward to our next chapter with grace.
I sorted thru and straightened up my closet and some other crannies of our home. cleaning always makes me feel better. and it helps me to let go, to have a moment of acknowledging the joy that it brought me and taking steps to move forward.
Ritual and ceremony are part of my process.
I had asked a friend to come with me to hike up to the top of a nearby mountain a 2.5/3 hour hike. She was delighted to come with.
I spent sometime writing sven a love letter and also pumping a little bit of milk to pour out onto the mountain.
At this point my breasts were not sore.
I was emotional.
I was glad to get outside and move.
I was surprised at how quickly I could climb without him in the pack.
I always have a great time with her, she cheers me up with her prescience and today was no exception. We bantered back and forth about everything. I feel so much that I am myself with her and I really enjoy that. We got to the top. what a view.
we sat quietly.
I read the letter outloud to god, to Sven’s spirit and angels, and anyone else who listened. I asked for support, guidance and love. I asked for grace. I expressed my gratitude and my pain. and my uncertainty at moments in life and in moments, and I prayed to be guided, and that my body communicate clearly the path. I lifted up the small plastic vile of liquid gold, aka breast milk and I poured it out.
For anyone who has ever had milk in their bodies, “wasting ” even a drop can be extremely painful.
We stat there, I cried. My dear friend was there, I thought I saw her wipe a few tears too. This process of letting go doesn’t stop.
maybe that is really what I am crying about.
That it feels so big, and so small.
it feels like the way that I want to show up is way out of my comfort zone and it scares the hell out of me.
because of my children I have to show up and be brave and be courageous and do things that I am terrified of, even if that just means getting out of bed.
But it is them that gives me the strength to do that, to be that and to go the extra mile.
it is hard to explain.
Moments come and go and as we head back down the mountain I had a realization that him not needing me so much in this way means there is more space available for me to be with me. and that sparked something in me, another conversation, a dog eared page. I will come back.
I have to say sleeping in another room was helpful in the sleep and repatterining, but that first night I could hear him cry for me, well to be fair he was crying for milk and for the pattern we together had programed inside of him. I woke just as often as they, only I was not afforded the serene look of him sleeping when the wailing stopped. I do not pity myself, just strive to relive the moments.
Monday morning I needed to put ice on my breasts and I also pumped a few oz to relieve the pressure. It helped barely. I walked downstairs crying, feeling as if I had marbles and needles inside my bra.
and the pressure was fierce.
Coffee and watching my family interact helped. I had a full day of work ahead and needed to get moving, and so I did.
By the time that evening came I felt that every step needed to be taken in slow motion and that I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. It hurt in a way that I couldn’t describe.
For me this was so much worse than beginning nursing.
It was hard in so many ways.
I pumped little more and went into the bath. Bending over was painful and felt like my skin was ripping, the tight itching feeling, I am certain my skin stretched more now than ever before in my life.
Tuesday morning I reported to my daughter(age 10) that I would rather be sick than wean. At least if I were sick I could lay in bed all day and cry. I was definitely being a bit over dramatic, and again I am ok with that. Wholly hormones and godly things inside of my body.
If I ever doubted my power, now was a time of reaffirmation.
My body can do anything.
Tuesday was similar to Monday and on wednesday morning I felt that I had turned a little corner. Cabbage leaves was beginning to be a part of my 4- plus- times- daily routine. I I was also drinking sage tea each day, I preferred mine with honey and ice cold.
Baths happened almost nightly. so nice for me. My man was there in full presence and support. rubbing my shoulders, taking care of the children and encouraging me to do stuff that supported me.
With our daughter now away to visit my parents, I felt I had even more space and I began to feel anger surge thru my body, I am not sure why, and it was difficult, I am pretty sure that casey was scared of me. He would come home from work and I would be a big ball of sass. I knew that I was being short and I couldn’t help it, all I really wanted was to be held. I also wanted him to be able to read my mind as I was not able to communicate that to him, just yet.
By thursday my breasts were becoming less and less tender, and I was capable of putting Sven to nap without any milk, this felt good, and as I walked the stroller slowly around the neighborhood I felt my confidence grow, again visiting that sparkly space of what will I be doing to feed myself? Its still a big daydream, but there are an abundance of lavish thoughts and it makes me smile.
When my husband got home from his big run on Saturday afternoon, I was ready to pop, emotionally and physically. We played the silent-give-me-space game for about an hour and then we just couldn’t take it.
I told him- “NO- I need you to be close. Right now my mind chatter sounds a lot like:
you suck, you are a bad mom, you don’t do anything right, you suck….and that voice is now weaving you into the drama, saying that see look even your husband doesn’t want to be around you…..” its maddening, please help me take me away from this voice so I can remember who i am. “
I felt like a ticking bomb.
bless him for riding the waves.
We went for a bike ride, and I pedaled really fast, it felt so good to pump it.
as my anger subsided, sadness came in again. more gentle this time and took me back to ruby and nursing her, and remembering how scared I was as a first time mom struggling in the ways that i was then, and how grateful I am to my body and its brilliance.
Sunday night I suddenly felt very nauseous and dizzy. I eventually just had to lay down and I felt very tired, I fell to sleep on the couch while casey put sven down, and then I made my way upstairs to sleep.
Monday started early, it had been a week. Nausea was better or more manageable and I was beginning to feel the slightest bit of softness through my breasts.
Tuesday I had a little headache, and a lot of energy.
On Thursday I had a headache, most of the day, and again felt nauseous – this was the first day I hadn’t felt a let down sensation in 15 months.
My emotions were still all over the place, and though I felt like I had more energy than normal at some times, at others I felt small, weak and very tired.
Truth is it is an ebb and a flow as my hormones find there way back to normal. And I am a multi faceted woman. The best I can do is speak my truth in each moment and move forward from there.
Today it is friday, and I sense that in a few days time my breasts will feel “normal” which somehow saddens me all over again.
Again — I am so surprised by this mysterious and powerful experience we live. I am grateful so grateful for my body and for the opportunity to feed Sven and myself in this way. I will forever look fondly at this time.
Even if for now I cry.