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Weaning Is Terrible... And So Is Everything Else.

That's it. We're done. Marlowe has been successfully weaned. "Successfully"... right well... really, that sucked. If I'm going to be honest on this blog of mine, then I'm going to tell you: I've been miserable the past month. Yes a whole month plus: miserable. Before and right after I had Marlowe I was so incredibly worried about postpartum depression. I knew if anyone was at risk to sink into a deep dark place, it was me. Alone, scared, no sleep, raising a baby... yeah, well, (you know the story) I got past those scary postpartum months with no depression and (what I think is) minimal side effects. Sure, occasionally I wanted to cry (things were tough at times), and I felt incredibly depressed every time I nursed her... what's the name of the "calming hormone" released while breast-feeding?  Oxytocin? Increasing that hormone sucked for me. Every time I fed her, I felt like a depressed crying zombie. In tears, so sad, and so confused by something I never heard about. Well, over time my body (hormones) normalized a bit more, and nursing didn't affect my mood as much, it just: took up a lot of time (remember, I've got a kid that nursed 15+ times a day), hurt my body and breasts (kicking, pinching, summersaults, jazz hands), and left me a slave to my baby (no sleep, no long outings, pumping, etc). Wow, I'm scaring new, pregnant moms, huh? I swear most babies aren't nursing overeating, pain inducing, gymnasts. Yeah, well despite my nursing depression and everything else, breast-feeding was totally (totally) worth it. Here we are at 15 months and my baby has been 100% formula free, loaded with breast milk nutrients, incredibly healthy, and the best eater in all the land.  (Go team!)
Weaning was incredibly difficult.... for me. Even offering one less feeding a day affected my body and mood. I felt the shift when we cut out night feedings. And I felt an even bigger (HUGE) shift when we went down to one feeding a day. I was slowly, but instantly, sad all the time. And you know what I did? I kept playing it off. I played the tough guy, kept patting myself on the back, and telling myself how great I was doing. I wanted so badly do believe I was going to fight through my hormones, like I had before, and come out with a weaned baby, no side effects, and most importantly: no depression. Pft. FAIL. There were a few days that we managed to skip our morning feedings and by 3 pm, I thought I was going to die. No, thats an exaggeration. But really? I felt like I had been drugged. I can't even begin to tell you how easily my body is affected by hormones. You know how everyone thinks pregnant woman are crazy and hormonal? I felt the most normal I had felt in years, while being pregnant, and off the pill. The last week of weaning was the worst. THE WORST. At every moment of the day I felt like I had the worst hangover of my life and would go back and forth with the idea up throwing up everywhere, all while having the sharpest stinging headache I had ever felt. All the while, I kept telling myself "well these side effects are the pits, but at least I'm not emotional". Heh, liar.
So yeah, I was sad. Not every second or minute, but probably almost everyday: I would have long moments of sadness and tears (I am not a crier). Marlowe made me laugh and smile (a lot) and my friends (when I saw them) usually made me happy, but still, I felt depressed. I was saddened by the fact that Alex was/is never around and the "family" I so desperately wanted felt again: like it was just Marlowe and I. I wanted (needed) the situation to get better and each day it didn't, I got more sad. And instead of just accepting that this is just the way this family will have to be, I closed off. I pushed away family, I pulled more away from friends, and I closed out Alex. Instead of telling anyone about my internal struggles with breast-feeding and weaning, I found it easier to disperse the blame to other areas in my life. This obviously didn't go very well. I pride myself so much in being honest and straightforward and yet, I found myself in my own form of dishonesty, with denial. Bah. Worst part is? My pride kept me from really realizing this. I didn't feel supported or understood, but then again, why would I if no one knew how I was really feeling? Once I accepted the fact that I wasn't as strong as I wanted to believe and my hormones were indeed creating a depression, I felt better. Admitting there is a problem is the first step, right?
So yeah, Marlowe is officially off the boob and has been for a little over a week. My body is slowly starting to normalize and my mood is slowly starting to shift back to a setting of normalcy. Marlowe is doing fantastic. She has adjusted better than I could have imagined. And everything else? Well, it still sometimes sucks. There are problems or issues that will be constant. Alex still works too much. I would still like some more family time. I'm having a hard time keeping up with everything else around me, while raising a small child, a baby. And of course, I still don't get a moment break to myself... but that is life. At least now that I have admitted to myself that my hormones, did in fact get the best of me, I feel better and I'm ready to (keep) moving forward. Things will never be perfect, ever. But, the good news is: I've got a good head on my shoulders, and a good grasp on reality, my emotions, and my body. I just need to always be honest with myself and sometimes tell myself: "Hey tough guy, it's okay to be weak. Stop being stubborn, hormones are rough, and go ask for a hug."

The best news? 
The transition from breast-feeding to not, has not only brought a bit more room and freedom for Marlowe and I, but has also created a better, more comfortable (and snuggly) bond between us. Our uncomfortable (for me) nursing times has turned into the best sleeping cuddle sessions a mom could want.

And honestly, part of me liked not being on the internet. Not blogging, not reading other blogs, not responding to emails... or even opening my email... it's been nice. It's 10:43 pm and my plan was to read and respond to my overabundance of emails tonight.... it didn't happen. I'm behind, and not going to let it bother me. I have my large sponsor space set up until May... other than that, I'm slacking. Next month? More focus.

31 comments:

  1. I don't know if you were already aware of this, but for others who may not be, it sounds like what you are describing in your early nursing relationship may have been what is called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) which is characterized by negative emotions during milk let down. (http://d-mer.org/Home_Page.html)

    I am glad you posted this though, because we need more people to honest about the ups and downs of breastfeeding. It is so important so that those women who may feel this way will know they are not alone or 'doing it wrong' <3

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  2. I like how honest this is. Kudos to you, mama!

    I feel you on being super hormonally sensitive.Its a very delicate balance in there for some of us, and that line is very very thin.

    Marlowe is beautiful, and you've done such a great job with all of this weaning bussiness. Wish you all the best!

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  3. @samantha: YES! I read an article about 6 months ago... long after those feelings had gone away.. I wanted to link it tonight, but didn't want to look for it.. I had totally forgot the name. Thank you for linking it. I hope other mothers find it useful!

    @snippets: thank you!

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  4. You go girl. Your strength is inspiring (to me).

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  5. Your writing is some of the most honest I've read on the internet. It's what keeps me coming back for more (and the gorgeous food and the cute baby and the great style). I'm sorry you've been going through all of this, it's amazing what the hormones can do. My sister-in-law couldn't nurse either of her children from their first months of life on due to crippling depression caused by the nursing. Different for everyone, but so hard.

    I am nursing my second child who is almost 2 1/2, and I am terrified for the day he stops, as this is my last child I will have, and I have enjoyed being a breastfeeding mommy so much. But like you, I will not miss the poking and scraping and hair pulling and "jazz hands" (lol) when he finally decides to give it up. Nursing time is when I spend the most time on the internet (when I should be reading a book or something) and I will be glad to be rid of that habit, too.

    Hang in there, looks like you are out of the woods....

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  6. I am still nursing my 18 month old, a lot. I'm easily at that 15 times a day mark you mentioned. The plan has always been to nurse until she was 2, but occasionally I am tempted to begin the weaning process.

    One of the huge things that keeps me from doing so, though, is that there isn't anything I'm comfortable with giving my daughter in place of breast milk. It's obvious you have done a lot of research and put thought into what you allow to cross your own daughter's lips, what are you giving her to ensure she is still getting most of the nutrients breast milk would have? I prefer not to give my daughter cow's milk and am not comfortable with the amount of estrogen in soy.

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  7. @ Melanie...I found this post awhile back on PUREmamas blog in regards to a good alternative to cow's milk/soy...maybe this could help.

    http://puremamas.squarespace.com/blog_all/2009/5/7/homemade-baby-formula.html

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  8. As always, bravo to your commitment, your honesty, your ability to express the many nuanced feelings that come with mamahood.

    My baby is almost 11 months old and breatsfeeding has been a rollercoaster ride-but one I am also SOOO happy I stuck with. I notice her nursing less and becoming more distracted and I will admit it is kind of sad. I haven't set a real limit though by a year I plan on pumping less and trying other milks...but like all of these moments it is bittersweet to even think of weaning. Everything goes so fast!!

    Good luck to you with everything--I truly identify with a lot of what you are feeling here and wish I had the wherewithal to blog more. Much love.

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  9. Love your blog - thank you for your honesty, that is what makes it so good. You are a wonderful Mama.

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  10. @melanie: I wasn't really to concerned about replacing breast milk with anything else since she eats so well. If I had weaned her at 6 months or so I would be more nervous, because then much more of her diet and nutrients would be breastmilk based. At 15 (or 18) months food is the main source of nutrients and breatmilk is just an added extra awesome healthy bonus.

    We drink almond milk in this home, but I've switched from the regular to the unsweetened for Marlowe. It doesn't have a ton of extra vitamins or protein of anything, but it's helping us make the transition off the boob and off the bottle to a full on food eating toddler.

    @melissa: I've always wanted to try to make some of the "homemade baby formulas" I've seen floating on the internet. Maybe this can be a fun project in the future! Thanks for linking to it!

    And thank you everyone else! <3<3<3

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  11. I always enjoy reading your posts! Thank you for being so honest with everyone about the struggles as well as good parts of being a parents can bring! You're a wonderful person/mother and everything will work out for you and i wish you the best!

    thanks again for all the honesty!

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  12. I always enjoy reading your posts! Thank you for being so honest with everyone about the struggles as well as good parts of being a parents can bring! You're a wonderful person/mother and everything will work out for you and i wish you the best!

    thanks again for all the honesty!

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  13. Thanks for writing this- I honestly thought I was the only one who suffered from weaning depression/anxiety. At 12 mos we went down to 3X a day and I felt it... by 15 mos we were just doing once a day and I was a mess. I couldn't handle it- my body went back to depression/anxiety/nausea mode and I couldn't deal. When I was pregnant and nursing FT was the only time in the last 8 years I didn't feel depression/anxiety. Weird, huh?
    She's 17 months and still won't drink anything but water- but she's a fabulous eater so I'm not concerned.

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  14. I wanted to also add that neither of my kids drink cow, soy, almond or any milk....my daughter nursed to 31 months and like I said above, my son is about to beat that record. So in some cases, no actual substitute is required. Neither kid will touch other milks. They are water drinkers. Maybe I spoiled them? :) We are not vegan (yet!)...they are eating yogurt and cheese, and my daughter is a kale eater, so nutrition not an issue. Just agreeing that drinking milk is not required in a child's life, as mentioned by many here.

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  15. i'm sort of going through the opposite...
    now that i'm back to work and zoey is getting used to a bottle, she's not really digging my breast. furthermore, i was sick a few weeks ago and took benadryl and it eff'd with my supply...so yeah...we've been feeding her formula and she LIKES it. i've felt so inadequate, like i've failed her somehow. like she doesn't need me anymore. which is of course ridic, but still! her daddy can feed her, her childcare providers feed her...that used to be OUR thing. i've weaned my daughter and didn't even MEAN to! i'm still pumping, still bf'ing, but it's about 50/50 at this point. i just think you should be super proud of yourself for what you've given to your daughter...sure it was hard and there were moments when you felt you couldn't take it, but...that's what being a mama is all about. you're an inspiration to other moms. trust me. i wish you all the best in this new year...that things will start looking up, that you'll find many happy places, people, and things. enjoy this next phase of your relationship with marlowe...it only gets better.

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  16. Drea,
    I don't really have much in the way of advice to offer, having never weaned before, but as for the rest? I wish you so much luck, and happier times ahead. The good news is that "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" or whatever, and that if you can get through this trying time and come out better on the other side, then your relationship will be even stronger. <3
    The greatest part of that is that you are already aware (from reading your previous posts) how much work it takes to maintain a happy, healthy relationship/marriage ... so I have faith that you both will be able to get through this really tough time. My husband went through a period where he worked CONSTANTLY as well and our relationship suffered tremendously. Thankfully we were able to save our marriage before it self-destructed, and we are now happier than ever. Just saying. :)

    xoxo
    Amber

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  17. I know it's not going to mean as much coming from someone who reads your blog as it would mean coming from someone you are close to in real life (I hope that makes sense!), but you are such an inspiration to me. I love the way you are comfortable in and make the most of your small living space (my husband & I live in a 1 bedroom house and are expecting a little one!), I am so inspired by your parenting and your food choices. I think you are doing a great job. I hope you are able to get more family time soon. I wish you all the best!
    ~Bee

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  18. Drea I am personally really thankful that you are so honest here. Life is not all kittens and roses. I am really in awe of what you went through and as a pregnant mommy to be (yep you read that right! I'm pregnant!!!) this post didn't scare me one bit. I feel like your honesty helps prepare mothers to be and lets us all connect and realize that we are not alone! I love this blog and will be a faithful reader no matter how often (or not) you post! Hugs!!

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  19. This really touched me. I am not a mother but I have heard breastfeeding stories and they've always made me so excited for what is to come. Until I heard my sister-in-law talk about "clogged ducts" and your story.
    Breastfeeding is beautiful and I cannot wait for it. But like life, it's not always peachy.

    Thanks for this.

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  20. This is tough my friend.I'm sorry to hear about the weaning process and the toll it's taking on your body. I became depressed after I stopped nursing Joshua and it took awhile to heal those wounds. But it sounds like you see the light at the end of the tunnel on that issue. And I'm glad M is doing so great!

    As for the others...let me know if you ever want to chat. I completely understand where you come from. Sometimes I wonder if I've fell in the routine of our life and don't even bother to say anything anymore. The long hours of work and when he is home he's napping, sleeping or working from home. We recently had a long talk about my perspective on "family time" and that we have some things to work on. I hate to say this but most times I feel like I'm flying solo and I have three kids and a house to manage. Jon always talked about selling the restaurant and I always said NO WAY....now....I say let's talk about it.

    Thinking of you sweetie!!

    xoxo
    liz

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  21. Drea, thank you so much for your honesty. As moms we all have such high highs and often times that comes low lows. Add hormones and expectations and you definitely have a recipe for some unpleasant feelings. I am also very sensitive to hormonal shifts and during my struggle with breastfeeding felt constantly at odds with my emotions. It's liberating to acknowledge that you feel like crap (or at least it was in my case) and to just simply let the feelings come and go as they will, knowing this is not a permanent state. Relax, rest, and enjoy this new phase with Marlowe. Sending lots of goodness!

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  22. Thank you so much for your honesty, Drea. You're one of the few mom bloggers I can really relate to (and would actually want to be friends with in real life). You're an awesome mom, and I like drawing inspiration for my own veg 1-year old from seeing what you feed sweet Marlowe. I'll miss your posts while you're slacking, but I hope the new year brings you lots of happiness and family time. :)

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  23. Kudos to you for voicing something that so many mothers keep hidden away. Motherhood comes with unbelievable emotions and isolating feelings. Breastfeeding and added hormones only make it that much worse. It's hard for anyone who hasn't yet been a new mom to understand. And btw... you ARE doing a great job, and you ALWAYS look pretty.

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  24. thinking of you sweet mama. Im going on my 2nd year of marriage, the first and most of this one was a nightmare because of my husband nightmare family. But now me being in counseling for the past 7 months and my counselor telling my husband that he has to keep his verbally abusive family away from me for a bit has helped us tremendously. We can get people who have it in their heads that we suck to like us. No matter what we do. Its not even you, its them, they have a sucky mentality. I am so sorry you have to deal with that. With a family that doesn't support you or give you words of affirmation, hey we all need it, especially as moms. But by reading your blog and seeing your IG/twitter ect your a phenomenal mom to Marlowe. I love reading your blog on things you do together, the neat things on toast ideas and even how you take care to make sure your daughter is eating healthy. I hope that things get better, my counselor said that their will be day where my in laws don't tear apart my heart the way that they do, and its not because of their actions changing, but it will be how I react to them and because I've healed from my past so Im not so hurt by my past to let my current situation hurt me as bad as it does (with in law drama) xo

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  25. Your honesty is such a gift to those of us who read your blog- so thank you. I'm so sorry you've been going through a hard time. Hormones are a real bitch!! I too had never felt better as when I was pregnant, but now, 11 months after my daughter was born, I've been feeling bouts of depression myself. And I haven't even weaned yet! Like you, I have a lot of external factors/stresses going on in my life that compound the situation. I'm glad you are starting to feel better. You should be so proud of yourself for the amazing job you are doing with Marlowe. She is just beautiful and so healthy (I'm a bit jealous of her love of veggies- my girl hardly touches them!). Be gentle with yourself and know that you are not alone : )

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  26. *teared up* My 1yo is now only nursing once at night &due to some *terrible* thrush (what felt like 50 times in her first 4 months of life), I'm debating calling it quits &letting my tatas rest. I can totally relate with you on the weaning... it hurts. I forget for a few hours &think I can make it. Then I remember again and it makes me sad to 'quit.' BUT I'm feeling the love from everyone posting here &I think I can do it. I think I can, I think I can. Thanks for being so honest &laying it all out there! One day/feeding at a time :)

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  27. Drea, hope things are going better. I so loved the honesty in this post. Women everywhere will appreciate it. Incredibly refreshing and I just wanted to thank you for that!

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  28. I've never heard of anyone else who has mentioned that horrible feeding during breastfeeding...even my OB looked at me strange when I told her the way it made me feel! So glad I am not alone.

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  29. I've never heard of anyone else describing the same feelings I experienced when nursing! My OB looked at me like I was crazy. They wanted to start me on an anti-depressant, but that wasn't necessary since it only happened when she'd feed. Good to know I am not crazy!

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