Let’s be real: breastfeeding as a working mom is a total circus. Managing your home, your job and your kid in 3 hour increments really is just as stupid as it sounds. But now my daughter is basically weaned. (I say basically because she still valiantly nurses a few dribbles out before bed, and according to the Oath of Sane Parenting, I cannot and will not stop doing something that works to get her to sleep.)
But weaning for this working mom has not been simple or fun. Let’s talk about all the things everyone failed to mention. (Yep I’m looking at you, experienced mom friends. The parenting magazines from 2006 in the pumping room you left me? Yeah, not that helpful. You know who you are, and thanks a million.)
1. It takes weeks, if not a few months of preparation. A few friends casually mentioned how they stopped at a year. Just BAM, baby’s birthday rolled around and they were like “here is your first cupcake, darling–hope you don’t miss the boobies”. And done. What they never mentioned is how they cut feedings out to build up to that point. If you are a SAHM, this may happen more organically than for a working mom since your kid is probably reducing milk consumption depending on food intake. I was pumping at work regularly for the sake of supply and routine; over time this artificially inflated my supply as my daughter started getting more calories from food, so I had to carefully plan cutting back, which leads me to item #2:
2. Only one feeding/pump session can be cut at a time, or prepare for the battle of plugged ducts. I was already prone to plugs, so I was extra cautious. I eliminated 1 feeding/pumping session every couple weeks. But to no avail- as I mentioned a month or so ago the engorgement from just one skipped session was nutty. And super awkward. And uncomfortable. I had to coach myself through it, actively arguing with my brain about how pumping away the discomfort was not the long-term solution.
3. If you are like me and the size of your nursing bosom was a delightful adventure into having any breasts at all, then be warned: the perky days will end. As a regular-life A-cup, I was unexpectedly delighted to spend over a year looking/feeling more proportioned to my body. This meant thinking about things like supportive tops and cleavage! It was quite the novelty really; never once in my life have I had to consider cleavage exposure! And now it’s over. I’m back on team A-cup, and yes, even us little ladies can have some post-nursing droop.
4. Speaking of drooping, aside from the physical slump, I was completely unprepared for the emotional slump that came along with weaning. I had been operating on 5-6 feedings per day for over 12 months. So when I quickly dropped down to just 2 piddly sessions morning and night, my hormones were swiftly thrown out of whack. For several weeks I felt kind of aimless, lethargic, and generally gloomy. I had zero desire to do anything, even fun things like blogging. So I did a little research and learned that coming off of breastfeeding can have its own effect similar to postpartum depression. Fortunately I didn’t deal with any PPD, but my brief encounter with post-weaning blues seriously sucked. No pun intended.
5. Thanks to all those aforementioned fluctuating hormones, my skin got to re-live the glory days of my teenage years. Looking like I suddenly contracted a childhood rash or illness, I had to show up to work completely exploding with zits. I felt so classy, my working mom baggy eyes now surrounded by adolescent-grade acne. After about a month it’s gotten better, but the pregnancy/nursing-mother glow is long gone.
6. Though my body hated pregnancy I think it loved nursing. My skin looked great and I was one of the lucky ones who was able to trim down easily with all those extra calories going out the door (and also running around like a crazy person at work). Those weight-management benefits have come to a furious, screeching halt. The postpartum work wardrobe I’ve built up over the last year is starting to get a bit snug. And bootcamp is so much harder than nursing. Ugh.
7. Finally, while I am delighted to have all the pumping time and sleeping time (night weaning was a game changer!) back, nursing was an amazing bonding mechanism. It was special, something that just the baby girl and I shared. She is such a busy little toddler these days, getting her to sit and snuggle for more than 1.5 seconds is virtually impossible. This leaves me feeling unsure of just what, exactly, I’m going to do to replace our nursing sessions.
I suppose she isn’t the only one clinging to those last few dribbles.
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