Monday, July 21, 2008

Quitting nursing, like quitting smoking, but worse.

Okay, I know that I promised my next post title would be, "Don't you want to do something to make your kids proud", but I have to preempt that story so that I can tell you about my weekend of weaning. And by my weekend of weaning, I mean my weekend of absolute excruciating torture.

As I write to you, my dear internet friends, my boobs are as hard as rocks- it is not pleasant.

My baby is nineteen months old, so I know that it is time to stop. Also, with the xanax, no breastfeeding- and as much as I love being mother earth, I gotta go in favor of sanity. Sorry, baby.

The choice, I will tell you, has not been an easy one. I am one of those weirdo moms who actually enjoyed nursing my children, all five of them. Unlike so many mothers that I have watched on A Baby Story, or Bringing home baby who have trouble or can't nurse, I was fortunate enough to be a natural at nursing. Even at nineteen when I brought my first baby home, who incidentally is turning 14 tomorrow, huge, gigantic gulp!!!!!!!, I immediately was able to nurse her with essentially no assistance. Moreover, unlike most breastfed babies, my newborns left the hospital actually having gained weight, which I am told is very unusual for breastfed babies. I have thought from time to time maybe I should be a lactation consultant.

Don't be too jealous, though, because breastfeeding hasn't been all roses for me. I had my share of blistered nipples, mastitis; but worst of all for me has always been the weaning. Because as I have said before I'm not really a type a, I was never in a huge rush to wean my children. I mean I didn't want them to be ridiculously old and nursing, but my first daughter was two before she completely stopped. The middle child, my younger son, stopped earliest, at nine months- middle kids always have it the toughest, because I got pregnant again. On average, I would say that they all nursed for about eighteen months.

Weaning has always been difficult for me because none of my children were eager to give it up. I have heard stories from other moms who say, oh, Johnny just lost interest. This never happened for me. I think, for my kids, I was their security object, their wooby, so to speak, and so the end of nursing was always traumatic- but typically more so for them than for me. With the other kids, I was usually really ready to stop, and also, I didn't have to stop immediately, because of medication, and so the gradual milk drying was quite so painful.

Going cold turkey, as I have been since Friday, however, hurts like hell. I am a stomach sleeper, so in addition to feeling like my chest is about to explode, I also have been having one heck of a time sleeping. Tylenol and ice packs have been my best source of relief- and yesterday, I think was the worst day, because the day before wasn't so bad, and today seems a little bit better- but yesterday, I literally felt like I could vomit from the pain. Not good.

On top of all of this, I am not so eager this time to stop nursing because this is my last baby. I know she is number five, and I should probably be way over it by now, but I'm not. Partly because I love little babies, and partly because the end of lactating makes me feel old, dried up a bit- put out to pasture. Silly maybe, but still, I'm having a bit of a moment.

Yesterday morning was especially hard because she was crying, I was in pain, and then I started to cry. It's hard to give up that bond, especially when you know there is no going back. Isabelle, my miniature psychologist, however was able to shed some light on the situation. Oh, if only I had her wisdom.

Aren't you going to give Tasha bubber anymore? she asks. I think secretly she is a bit delighted. After all, this cute little lady took her spot in the sunlight, displaced her as the youngest, and got to be on mommy all the time.

No, I say, clearing my thought, and trying to be brave.

Well, she says, think of all the new things that you are going to be able to do with your baby now. You can meet new mommy friends when Tasha makes new baby friends. You can buy new pretty sippy cups.

Then she says to Tasha, you are a big gull now. Now you are just like sissy.

I look at her. So cute, so wise, and I realize that my baby growing up to be just like her big sissy is really a good thing.

And once my boobs deflate, and return to normal, I think I'll treat myself to some new bras, the kind that don't snap down in the front, the kind the dream angels from Victoria's secret wear.

Better to look forward because looking back gets you no where.


Mrs. Tantrum said...

Someone told me that ice cold cabbage leaves help with the pain, and also dry up the milk. I used it the one time that my milk came in, which was - well not when I brought Bacon home, and it worked toward the end.

With all of the fancy bras you can also look forward to halter tops, and we can now campaign in bikinis! We are now a shoe in for the White House! (Shoes, you should get some shoes too!!)

Kelly said...

I used cabbage leaves and I think they really help...although now I have a really hard time eating cooked cabbage! You have to crush them with a rolling pin first and then leave them on until they are wilted and then change them out. I even slept in them.

buffi said...

Oh, Laurie. I am a big nursing fan, as well. My last one finally weaned at 30 months (I know, right?!). I realized that I have spent 54 months of my life nursing 3 children. And I loved almost every minute of it. I'll send you the links to my nursing posts sometime if you want!

Hope you get some relief soon. Cabbage does help! Hang in there, friend!

Sarah said...

Kelly (left the cabbage comment) is a friend of mine and I had no idea about her cabbage violation...
Oh, the things you learn about people in the blogosphere....

Have you checked out yet?

Kristine said...

I like how Mrs. Tantrum thinks. LOL

I love nursing my eight month old. I have no plans on stopping any time soon if I have my way about it as this is my one and only chance.

Sorry to hear you have to stop sooner than you'd like.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Robin said...

I'm not sure that weaning was harder than quitting smoking, but that's only because quitting smoking was unbelievably traumatic for me.

I actually AM a lactation consultant, so if you don't mind a bit of assvice... Please, express a bit of milk - don't panic, I'm not suggesting you pump gallons and restart the system, just enough to soften things and make you more comfortable. It's REALLY important. Weaning cold turkey and then getting that degree of engorgement can turn into mastitis before you can blink. Please, get some of that milk out of there and relieve the pressure. If you don't want to put Tasha back to the breast just pump for a few minutes, or better yet hand express in the shower (with the hot water on your BACK, not your breasts).

If you do use the cabbage leaves, remove that center white vein and change them out whenever they wilt, but the very best thing to do is to get some of that milk out of there.

E-mail me if you want more information.

PS Love your playground :).

PPS For the previous commenter who is not interested in weaning yet (that's great!), if and when you do decide to wean later (even much later), gradually is a lot easier on your both. If you eliminate one feeding every 2 or 3 days, it gives your body enough time to adjust and you won't end up in the kind of pain Laurie's in right now.

sarah said...

hope you're feeling better now (physically and emotionally). Weaning is tough! Treat yourself to some amazing bras!

Ann(ie) said...

I didn't breast feed....I was dealing with post traumatic stress from hemmoraging and then delivering via C-section all in like 3 minutes flast. I know, I know TMI...sorry. hehe. BUT, what date was your little one born? My guy is 19 mo old too!

Amy said...

I hope your feeling better. I am just getting back to my blog people and I read this and felt bad, but maybe by now your good. Maybe.

Laurie of the Seven Stories said...

Her b day is Christmas. I know good planning on my part with four other kids at home. At least, it was late night time, and we had eaten and opened presents with the other four.

Val said...

That is really cute.

Sorry for your pain though. Here's to hoping this finds you in a better state!