Recently on one of our private groups, one of our mothers posted about her decision to wean, and her fear of being judged for her decision. I asked her if I could share her thoughts. The decision of when to wean is a personal one, and not one that others should judge on. So I am thankful to Alica S, for sharing her story.
Alicia S wrote “I apologize in advance, but this will be a long post. The subject of this post, though, is something that I feel is an important addition to this community. So here goes…
I love breastfeeding. I really do. But if you would have told me that I would get to this point when my baby was 3, 4, 5, 6 weeks old, I would have stared at in you disbelief. It was hard, harder than I ever could have imagined. And I struggled through days and nights, not even bothering to hold back the tears. I began to really worry that I wouldn’t make it to my original breastfeeding goal: 6 months. But then, somehow, it got better. I went back to work part-time (3 days a week) when my baby was 8 weeks old. We found a system and a schedule that worked for us. But it still hasn’t been easy. I have fought for it every step of the way. Less than 2 months after I went back to work, I began to have difficulty with pumping. I changed every part, valve, piece I could find. I rented a hospital-grade pump. I should have bought stock in coconut water because I started drinking it like it was going out of style. I took supplements, I upped my water intake. But I still didn’t pump effectively. But I was able to continue breastfeeding because I was only working part-time.
I don’t know what I would have done without the support I found through the Nappy Shoppe…PPD group, new mom group, and the friends I’ve made have helped me immensely. I was always a supporter of breastfeeding, and I knew intellectually that “breast is best.” Now, however, I am more than just a supporter; I am an advocate. And my baby is 8 months old and I have sustained her for her entire life.
I say all this to tell you where I’m coming from. I love breastfeeding. I love that time with my daughter. But I’m making the decision that it’s time to stop. I go back to work full-time in October and I know that I won’t be able to pump enough to fill her ever-increasing bottles. And I’m ok with my decision. I will cry, I will be jealous when I see a mama nursing her baby, but I will also look at her and be filled with self-pride. I did more than I ever thought possible. I gave my baby the best for 8 months, and I’m damn proud of that. And it’s ok for me to stop. I’m sure some of you will say that I could do more. You’re right, I probably could. But not without sacrificing the diminishing time I get to spend with my daughter once I work more. And that seems counter intuitive. Some of you may even offer me some of your milk. I will be grateful and overwhelmed by your generosity. But I won’t be able to take it. I know there are other mamas that need it much more than we do.
So for all the moms in this group who struggle, you are doing an amazing job. But if it becomes too much; if you have weighed all the factors and feel that continuing to breastfeed puts more stress and strain on your already frazzled nerves, it’s ok to stop. You will still find support and another mom to look at you and say, “You did a damn fine job. You gave your baby something incredible.”
A little while back, a new mama posted here that she was fighting and struggling and asked if she was crazy for wanting to stop breastfeeding. I was afraid to tell her, no, you’re not crazy for doing everything you can and hitting your limit. I was afraid of looking unsupportive if I told her it’s ok to stop. But sometimes, giving a mama grace to do what she feels is best is the most supportive thing you can do. Even if you don’t agree with that decision.”
Alicia writes “My name is Alicia Schulze, and even 8 months into this crazy new life, calling myself Ellisyn’s mother is still something I’m getting used to! I love taking walks with my husband, our daughter, and our pup. I can’t imagine trying to function without caffeine, especially since my to-do list is always longer than there are hours in the day. Everyday, I try to remind myself of the best piece of parenting advice, which was bestowed upon me by the incredible Nappy Shoppe community – Give yourself grace, mama; grace to make mistakes and learn from them, grace to revel in your successes with the support of a mama tribe.”