Monday, October 3, 2011

On finishing breastfeeding:

This post is filled with too much information. BUT you asked for it, and I want to share with moms who undergo similar things.
Jack. Stop reading. Check back on the blog tomorrow, but you don't need to read about my breasts.

(Jack is my 14 year old brother.)

About three weeks ago, now, the babies both decided that they were not going to breastfeed again.
Since I hate pumping, and had already been doing it for months, and since I don't have time to spend twenty minutes in my room pumping  even once a day, let alone several times, I decided to just stop.
The boys had already self-weaned to the point that they only breastfed two, maybe three times a day each.
But unfortunately for my body, that was still four to six times a day.
And people (like my mother-in-law, and a lactation consultant) told me that I should pump the same number of times the boys were eating and slowly, every few weeks, decrease one pumping session.
But that would take MONTHS.

So I just stopped.
And It was reaaaaally painful.
I would lie in bed and cry.
I would sit for hours in the tub, crying and trying to massage the giant, painful, lumps of milk out of my breasts.
On the rare occasion when I decided that I needed to pump, or else I would die - I would sit and cry because the suction hurt so badly.

I tried cabbage leaves, torn up and shoved in my bra, but all it was so lumpy and uncomfortable that I couldn't leave the house with them in.
And they made me smell terrible.
So after a few days, I stopped even trying them.

I started taking allergy medicine, since I needed it anyway and they say it dries up milk.
But it didn't really do anything either.
For two and a half weeks, I had giant swollen breasts. I couldn't sleep lying on my side. I couldn't wear a normal bra. And I literally squirted out jets of milk around the room every time I undressed.

It also wrecked havoc on my hormones. I yelled at my poor husband a lot for about a week.
I would bake things and then throw them on the ground, yelling that they were "cake shit" and I was a failure as a woman.
I couldn't bake a simple cake. I couldn't continue breastfeeding two babies. And I certainly didn't want to be intimate.

Acne also broke out all over my face, which only intensified my unhappiness and self-depreciation.

And then, one day, one of my breasts was almost empty. It had one tiny painful lump in it, but was otherwise a normal, small, wrinkly, stretchmarked boobie.
And a few days later, the other breast was too.
A few more days went by and they didn't even have lumps in them.  (About last Thursday).
So it took about three weeks, and now I'm okay again. (Although I actually have quite a bad cold, but that's not the same.)
And now I no longer nurse my babies. I miss it, because I liked to be close to them, one on one.
But it is freeing, and now we can leave them with a babysitter for more than an hour or two.
And my breasts don't hurt, nor am I constantly wearing a damp bra, which is kind of wonderful.

So... yeah. What were your experiences breastfeeding (or stopping breastfeeding)? Were they as bad as mine? or worse? Or not so bad?

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Krystle said...

Ouch. I didn't have that experience...I just pumped for like 5 minutes each time it got really bad and then after a week it was gone.
Sorry you had to go through all that!!

Molly B said...

I hear you...I stopped at 7 months with my twin boys....I pumped the majority of the time- but right at 7 months my milk just it was about a month or so of it, my breast would get full and I had to pump to release some of the pressure- I pumped once a week for about 5 minutes- after about 4 weeks all was good. It is nice to not have your boobs rule your life though....

Courtney said...

Wow that sounds brutal! I weaned my girl over about 8 weeks, slowly dropping one feed at a time. Looks like doing it cold turkey can be rough!

Meagan @ Meagan Tells All said...

Mine was a very slow gradual stop (prob over 2 months) starting when my daughter was about 6-7 months. It turned into a battle with her everytime I would force her to try to nurse. It had been HOURRRRRRRS since she nursed last and I was like, don't you want mommy's milk anymore??? She was now a busy 8 month old girl wanting milk fast and to not sit for 30 minutes getting slow milk. It was then a hard battle switching to formula, but she finally got it, and we never looked back. It sucked. I miss it STILL and she turns 2 in a month. I felt like a big time failure for a long time, but she continued to be a healthy thriving baby and it was jsut ME that had the problem letting go. Sorry you had to go through all of that. Cutting cold turkey sounds awful! Glad you're feeling better!

Calista said...

It's ironic - I just barely wrote a post about this too :). My 8 month old decided this past Thursday that she was DONE nursing. I panicked, because she won't even take a bottle and HATES formula. Now that we're through the weekend, we've found a bottle that she likes, and we're mixing her formula with some pedialyte, things are looking up. However, I was drying up anyway - we were down to one or two feedings a day max, so I'm not engorged at all. I'm just completely broken hearted that she doesn't want to even try anymore. Seriously, I want to cry about it. My small consolation is that it was her that chose not to, not me. That's something, right? Right???

Unknown said...

I stopped cold turkey-ish with my son. It was pretty painful and agonizing for prob about a week. He was just about 12 months when I stopped so I'm sure his milk intake had decreased gradually anyway bc he was eating anything and everything. Its pretty terrible when you are going through it though! I thought I was dying! My husband didn't know what to do. It was awful and then it was just gone and I was FREE ;) and now I'm nursing 10 1/2 mo old twin girls... we'll see how the weaning goes this time around.......

Andrea said...

I am a little nervous myself to stop. I plan on stopping in the next three weeks. My girls decided they wanted my milk but not from me, from a bottle, when they were two months old and I have (embarrassingly enough) pumped for 9 months now. I use to get 50 ounces a day! I was a cow for sure, but they loved it and they hated formula. Since they eat most solids now I only pump three times a day and my milk supply has dropped a ton! I am hoping that it wont be too bad, I know how painful it can be when you are so full of milk you could pop! Way to go though!

Chris said...

Why didn't I get a warning?

Elizabeth said...

I can't remember how I happened across your blog now, but I've been reading it for about a month. My daughter is a month younger than your boys. :) I rarely comment, but had to make an exception for this post. I recently (about two weeks ago) weaned my daughter and it was a very difficult decision. I never had any problems with my first two but stopped at 4 months and 7 months 'just because'. I guess I just got tired of it. This time I had every intention of nursing her until she was a year old. That was not to be! We dealt with a milk allergy, a supply issue, colic, and finally it was just enough. :( It was a SAD day for me and I feel like I'm still trying to come to terms with it. Sometimes I feel like I did want to wean, for the freedom, and sometimes I feel like a failure and miss it so much. I could very much relate to this post. Your boys are adorable!

Magbag Missoula said...

Hi Becky, after Norma was born (our 41 week full term stillborn) I was given a book called Empty Cradle Broken Heart, Surviving the Death of Your Baby. Sadly it is a book you would only read if your baby died. Its one of those "If I had to do it again, I would......" Anyway, very early in the book, chapter 3 Physical Recovery, it said that a 5 day regime of B6 taken daily 200mg would help. I did not get to chapter 3 until my milk was fully in and I was painfully engorged. Witch alone is bad enough, but the feeling of having so much milk and no baby to feed was by far worse. Anyway, the B6 worked. I felt relief with in 12 hours. It is very important to not use B6 if you are still nursing because it dramatically cuts off your milk supply. But in a case when the baby is done, then I would recommend it.


Ginny said...

Oh man. I am currently breastfeeding (5 month old son). Reading about weening makes my breasts hurt almost. The day after Wesley was born my breasts were beyond engorged. They were like two mountains on my chest hard and painful. I pray that weening won't be as awful, though I am not ignorant enough to believe it won't be at least a tad bit difficult. My sister has identical twin girls. I lived with her and my brother-in-law a couple of years ago while my husband was deployed to Iraq. My hat is off to mother's of multiples because though I don't completely understand how difficult it is, I can say I've been around to watch a lot of the arm wrestling that occurs!

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