On Weaning at 5 Months — I’m Not the Mother I Thought I’d Be
The Mama Juggle strikes again. Working and mothering…something had to give.
Our final breastfeed
You’re five months old and today I breastfed you for the last time. In that moment, as you were comfort-sucking through a pain in your belly, neither of us knew that we wouldn’t do this again. That this incredibly intimate exchange between us had drawn to a close. But later, as I stood over your crib and watched your little chest move gently in your sleep, a sense of peace washed over me and the decision I’d be wrestling with for weeks was finally made.
Where almost everything else about being your mother felt natural, breastfeeding did not come easy to us. But your body was so tiny, your little mouth so small, my desire to nurture you in this way was a primal force to be reckoned with. I cried my way through six weeks of constant expressing, finger-tube feeding and comp-feeding to establish you exclusively on breastmilk and when I did, you thrived. Quickly, your body began to try to recover lost ground, feeding around the clock so you could gain the weight on the outside that your placenta had prevented you from gaining on the inside. Watching you grow was incredible and through the sheer exhaustion, I felt a deep sense of pride.
I’m grateful for my breastfeeding journey…but I’m also glad it’s ending.
Breastfeeding healed both of us. Those forced quiet moments with you, carried me through post-partum, flooding my body with so much oxytocin, I would often cry when let-down occurred. It lifted me up out of the emotional fug that had been trying to conceive and pregnancy-after-loss and helped me connect with the immense gratitude I had for the privilege of being your mother. For you, it gave you a quiet moment in the space of the chaos of our large family, added some much-needed chunky rolls of fat to your frame and helped you bond with me. You loved nothing more than to feed…you would have done it all day.
But then, things started to change. You began throwing up and screaming after feeds. You developed rashes on your belly and cheeks. You cried to be fed constantly, wanting to soothe your…