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Weaning a child can be a bittersweet experience. And did I mention physically uncomfortable? Emotionally exhausting? Yeah, it's definitely a rollercoaster ride.
Even though I had already gone through the process of weaning two children, I was thrown for a loop when I recently weaned my youngest child. Here are the things that surprised me:
1) Holy hormonal shifts. Sure, I was sad about the fact my breastfeeding relationship was ending, but I also knew it was what I wanted. It's true the process has been fraught with each child. But weaning wasn't as gradual this time around, and I totally felt it. I was an emotional ball of sadness and anger -- which can be normal, thanks to a drastic drop of oxytocin that happens during the weaning process. Fun times.
2) Stuffing cabbage leaves in my bra really did help. This might seem random. But, I've read this bit of advice over and over again for both mastitis and weaning. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests refrigerating a head of cabbage, rinsing it with cold water, and then tearing off sections to use as cold compresses. For me, it definitely helped ease the discomfort of my tender, engorged breasts.
3) I was soooo tired. Initially, I thought my crazy work/mom/life schedule was just wearing me down. But when I continually fell asleep at 8 p.m. while lying down with my toddler (or randomly while lying down for a second on the couch,) I was all like, "WHAT is going on?!" Apparently, extreme fatigue during weaning could mean that I'm iron-deficient or that my thyroid levels are off. Who knew?
4) My period was two weeks late and I swore I was pregnant. With my first two kids, I didn't even have a postpartum period until a couple months after weaning. With baby number three, however, Aunt Flo reared her ugly head about nine months after delivery. And, evidently, weaning messed with my schedule. A late period combined with the aforementioned mood changes and fatigue made a barrage of negative pregnancy tests extremely confusing.
5) I changed my mind about the timing. I was *this close* to having my 21-month-old daughter weaned. In fact, we had made it three whole days without breastfeeding. Then she got sick, and it was confirmed that my toddler had influenza A. My poor girl was absolutely miserable for a week. So I allowed her to nurse for comfort, and in order to keep her hydrated. Alas, the timing for weaning wasn't quite right.
... And now I'm at it again. Weaning baby number three, round two: Commence!
Images by Michelle Stein
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.