It’s My Party and I’ll Wean When I Want to …

The decision to wean is a very personal and very complicated decision and it’s not one you can (painlessly) make overnight.

Let me state up front I have a loving and supportive husband. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone (OK, anyone except maybe Ryan Reynolds 😉 and only for a night…!).

We’ve been together through thick and thin over the past 10+ years. We are opposites in some ways, but we usually complement one another … or butt heads entirely because we’re both pretty headstrong!

Still, though we don’t always see eye to eye on everything — usually due to our vastly different upbringings (he from a developing country who grew up in a single-parent household with a severely developmentally-challenged sister; me who grew up middle-class in the N.J. countryside [it exists!] with two parents and two healthy siblings) … we do usually manage to synergize in one way or another. It’s how our relationship, marriage and friendship has stood the test of time and, [G-d willing!] will continue to do so for the rest of our lives.

That said, neither of us are perfect … and today I need to vent a little about my other half because, though it sucks to admit this, I am not getting the support I need right now when it comes to weaning Maya.

You see, with respect to breastfeeding, he has been my #1 cheerleader from the start. From “priming the pump” those early days (i.e., lifting Maya’s arm time and time again when she would fall asleep at the breast to encourage her to keep going), or giving me back and shoulder massages, bringing me water or snacks or whatever I needed to make things happen for us, giving words of encouragement … he did it all and with love and admiration.

He never asked me if I planned to breastfeed; it was a decision I came to on my own — if I could do it, that is. And so going into it, we had no expectations though he, like me, believed anything Maya could get from me was better than nothing — especially for those initial six months.

So you can imagine my surprise when, late last week, I  confessed that I’d had it with this seemingly-futile milk-making business and he — he who  knows all of my supply issues, has seen me struggle, knows my challenges — was still encouraging me to go for it, to keep trying … for our daughter!

Talk about a guilt-trip!

It took all the restraint I had not to clock him, even looking into his chocolaty teddy bear eyes. Seriously.

In his mind, he IS supporting me — encouraging me to keep going all the while appreciating what I have done so far. But, to me, he wasn’t listening to the fact that, good as any drop is for Maya, at this point, IT’S NOT WORKING FOR ME!

My body just isn’t making what it used to … a surefire sign that the end of our milk days is near.

When I asked him “OK, well then how long do YOU think I should continue?” he didn’t have an answer except, “Well, I don’t know … til she’s bigger.”

Well, I’ll be … ! [Note to self: we’d never actually discussed weaning — probably because I never suspected I’d get to this point — but reality flash: in husband’s country of origin, it’s not uncommon to see toddlers at the breast … hell to the NO for this mama].

After I seethed for a while (and wouldn’t spoon with him that night, how we always sleep), I came to the realization that this is one of those things we are just never going to agree upon … and that, ultimately, this is my decision and mine alone.

We both know I’ve given Maya a wonderful start — in our heart of hearts, we both believe this. But I just can’t do it any longer … which is why I have been cutting back. Two weeks of vacation set those wheels in motion, and I’ve slowly cut back to three instead of four pumps a day at work … soon to be replaced by two. By the time September rolls around, I should be completely milk-free … and will welcome back my A/B cups!

I also realized that men cannot — and will not — ever be able to understand the complexities and intricacies of emotion and physicality of breastfeeding. Try as they might, it will never make sense to them. Even the most sensitive guy in the world cannot truly relate … [though maybe if I were married to said man, he wouldn’t be encouraging me to continue! But I digress … ]

In my husband’s mind, he is encouraging me because he knows how good it is for our daughter. Well, believe me, I know the benefits of continuing to give her even just those 5 oz a day — really, I do!

But I also know the physical, emotional and mental toll it’s been taking on me the past few weeks, in particular, where travel and an erratic pumping schedule has set me back to producing literally 5 oz a day — i.e., one morning or evening bottle. I used to be able to make twice that in a day … but now? Not at all. And it’s just getting worse by the day. Most people would have stopped months ago in my shoes!

Still, hubby issues aside, I had no idea this weaning business could be so fraught with emotion! After all, there was a time not too long ago when (pre-preg) the thought of nursing grossed me out … then once we were able to do it, it was awfully painful and I resented being woken to nurse and hated it … so I just pumped … but then I missed the closeness I felt with Maya from nursing so I tried breastfeeding gain when I was still on leave … then I went back to just pumping at work … then mixed it up again a few times these past four months.

Through it all, my supply hasn’t changed. I’m sure if I wanted to I could have done more … hindsight IS 20/20 after all. But at this point, as a good friend noted, she is thriving and eating solids now … and in four months, milk will be secondary to solids and will be replaced with cow’s milk anyway. [Plus, let’s not forget that the moment you introduce solids, you are technically weaning.]

I’m at the tipping point where, honestly, mama’s milk is damn near tapped … and I’m ready to bid adieu to the black pumping bag.

[Ironically, this weekend I only nursed her and didn’t pump at all … and I felt fine about it; I enjoy nursing. I love how she plays with my hair, grabs her feet, touches my face, snuggles in real close. It’s almost like now that I know those days are drawing to a close, I want to milk them for all their worth (pardon the pun) … even though I know the moment she unlatches she will need a bottle of formula to finish the feeding.]

So as for hubby and me … he shows (and tells) me he is appreciative of all I’ve done so far. But for now, we are just agreeing to disagree about when to wean: it’s my party and I’ll wean when I want to. Maya is growing and is strong now. I know I’ve given her a great foundation and that’s what matters most.

While I wish he was as supportive now as he has been all along, I understand his concern all comes from a good place; a place of love. Still, I’m proceeding ahead with my gradual weaning process. At this point, I need to do what’s best for me and being a stress-bucket about milk just isn’t going to win me any mommy of the year awards. To be the best mom, wife and employee I can be, it’s time to unplug the pump.

How about you? Was the decision to wean easy or hard? Did you have support?

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5 thoughts on “It’s My Party and I’ll Wean When I Want to …

  1. You are totally right… it’s a hard decision and one that only the mother can really make (with all due respect to our wonderful Hubbies!). Just remember, you fortunately live in a country where some awesome formula is readily available for you and your baby. Your baby will be juuust fine! And so will you. btw… I know plenty of breastfed babes out there who get more sick than non breastfed babes… so I don’t know if I buy into that whole thing! Good luck no matter what!

    1. Thanks, Avanti! 🙂 You’re so right, it’s one only WE can make. And it’s not like we haven’t been giving her formula all along in addition to BM. Thanks for the support! Luis means well, but I am still annoyed that he doesn’t fully get it (written as I sit here pumping at work!)

  2. I love that you tagged this Ryan Reynolds! Haha…

    Nursing was absolutely miserable for me (in the first 2 weeks I had mastitis twice – with pain, flu-like symptoms and bleeding…on top of having a newborn at home and getting no sleep). My poor husband felt completely helpless and the first time he saw me pump bloody breastmilk (while sobbing from the pain) he begged me to stop nursing and use formula. He just couldn’t stand to see me so miserable. I didn’t quit because of him, but in retrospect, I wish that he would have encouraged me to keep going. Of course, at the time, I probably would have wanted to shoot him, but one of my biggest regrets as a parent is that I didn’t try harder to make nursing work and I really could have used his encouragement rather than his begging me to stop. ::sigh:: You’re right, they just don’t get it – it’s not just about feeding a baby. It’s about emotions, pride, maternal instinct, etc. If we ever decide to have another baby, I am determined to make it work!

    1. Well you know, he IS my lovah 😉 Ha!

      I am so sorry to hear how bad it was for you … it seems so many women experience something similar and have to stop. I can’t blame you! I do see, though, how you could now wish he had been encouraging you to continue, but he had your best interests at heart. I think what’s tripped me up about this whole thing is I feel like Luis doesn’t have my best interests at heart. Granted, I’m not bleeding or in pain … but I am emotionally tapped. And that (unintentional) lack of empathy is still hard to take. <> I hope it works for you next time!!

  3. She is so stinkin’ cute!

    I sort of have the opposite husband problem. Will eats much better at home vs. on the go, so we’ll often rush in the door and I’ll sit down to feed him. I will be dying of hunger/thirst (seriously, I had no idea how ravenous and thirsty BF would make me) and he’ll sometimes be annoyed about making me a sandwich or bringing me a drink. Trust me, if I could get up and do it myself, I’d be cooking a whole spaghetti dinner.

    He got on me one day about being forgetful about vitamins and the baby taking what he needed and I turned it around to say that the same goes for food and hydration. I can tell when my supply is suffering from not eating and drinking enough. Since then he’s been much better.

    Support is so key. I’m already planning a pizza party for my coworkers for February, the 1 year mark. I could not have made it this far without them.

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