Weaning: Harder for Moms Than for Babies?

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I’m crying as I write this. Maybe it’s hormones. But I think it’s more than that. I have finally decided it is time to wean my baby boy. Sure, it’s been hard: I’ve had to breastfeed or pump regularly, every three hours or less, for almost sixteen months now. But with working part-time and three kids who need me, I have realized it’s time to move on.

And it makes me cry. But then, I’m a crier. I cried when I left the hospital after his birth, when my baby’s umbilical cord fell off, when he outgrew his newborn diapers, when he started crawling. I don’t know if they’re happy tears (for him), but I know they’re sad tears (for me).

As hard as it is to have a baby (it is absolutely and utterly physically exhausting), there’s something to be said about a little person (with such sweetness) needing you utterly and absolutely—and your body responding accordingly.

Truth be told, though, I’m also crying because I hate the thought of my children getting older and not needing me anymore. Of them going off to kindergarten, middle school, college—and then moving away with their own families. (Cue Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin.) Weaning is just the start.

I’m crying for moms everyone who love their children infinitely, with every ounce of being that they have. And then one day, these same newborns, babies, children grow up—and head out on their own.

And typical mom worry sets in when the weaning process begins:

What if he gets sick? I think. He’ll need my immune antibodies.

What if there’s a storm? I think. And he has no food. (Call me crazy, but I think back to a story I read in the newspaper of a family stranded in a car in a snowstorm where the breastfeeding mother was able to keep all the children nourished with her milk.)

What if he needs to nurse? I think. He won’t understand why he can’t—or why nothing’s coming out.

There are so many what ifs…but I realize that weaning my baby doesn’t make me less of a mother. I’ll still be there for him to snuggle, hold him, and feed him—and give him a pacifier if he needs something to suck on. But I’ll have much-needed me time back. (I’ve had zero of that for the past 16 months—and I’m starting to feel “me starved”.) I also want to get back to exercising regularly.

There is life beyond breastfeeding. And it’s about to start for me—and my baby.

And you know what? The thought is making me cry…all over again.

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