Jamie Kenney

12 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Weaning

By
Share
Ad failed to load

There's been a lot of ink spilled (including mine) on the difficulties parents face when breastfeeding. While there were times I found nursing difficult, I actually found weaning, overall, to be a greater personal challenge, even though it's (arguably) discussed less. If I had a time-traveling DeLorean (which is totally something I hope to have one day), I would 1) Have dinner with Oscar Wilde; 2) Kill Hitler (you kinda have to if you have a time machine); and 3) Visit my past breastfeeding self and share the things I wish I knew before I started weaning.

Like breastfeeding itself, there is no single weaning experience. How weaning will go and how people will feel about weaning while they're going through it vary from, you guessed it, person to person. Most American mothers wean their babies well before a year; Some women wean out of necessity, due to inability to breastfeed or technical issues related to nursing; Some children wean themselves, which causes some mothers elation and others, absolute sorrow.

Speaking personally, I weaned my children at 17 months and 21 months (way past the national average) and so I'm certain that weaning toddlers and weaning infants is a whole different ballgame. Then again, I'm also sure weaning my toddlers and someone weaning their toddlers, is completely different. So, while I can only speak to my own personal experiences here, I think there are some things that I wish I could have known ahead of time that other breastfeeding mothers may find helpful, as they stare weaning in the face.

Ad failed to load

My Child's Shrieking Tantrums Would Put Veruca Salt To Shame

GIPHY

Remember the scene in Trainspotting where Renton's parents lock him in a room to detox and he has a series of horrifying fever dreams that cause him to scream uncontrollably? Angry screams. Scared screams. Terrified screams. That's the kind of screaming I'm talking about. My kids were hurricanes of emotion at the beginning of the weaning process. It was not pretty.

My Milk Wouldn't Go Away For, Like, Ever

Forever. My breasts are like the grandma who won't let you get away with eating just one helping and, instead, keeps prodding you to take more, no matter how many times you assure her that you're full. It's like they're saying, "Eat! Eat! You're so skinny! Here! There's so much left! Eat more! Take some home with you!" I weaned my daughter almost four months ago, but apparently my boobs didn't get the memo.

My Kids Would Get Ridiculously Clingy

GIPHY

Any major change has the potential to prompt a kid to latch on a little more (no pun intended), and weaning is definitely a big change. All of a sudden, daycare drop-off got emotional and weepy. We went from sleeping through the night to waking every couple of hours for a reassuring cuddle. I didn't put two and two together and realized that the weaning likely caused the clingy-ness, until we were through the worst of it.

Ad failed to load

My Hormones Would Go Bonkers...

After being pregnant or nursing for almost 5 years, consecutively, I probably shouldn't have been caught off-guard by the fact that I underwent a massive hormonal change when it all came to an end, but I definitely was. There is not a lot of research on post-weaning depression and, after my experience, it is a sincere wish that more is done in the future. After years of riding an oxytocin high, I crashed hard when my body wasn't producing as much of it anymore. It was difficult to get through a day without feeling completely overwhelmed and weepy: it essentially felt like epic PMS that lasted two and a half months.

...And Exercise Would Help To Calm Those Hormones

GIPHY

Around the time I started to feel depressed, I felt the highly uncharacteristic need to go running. Now, something you should know about me: I'm absurdly out of shape. I hadn't run outside of, like, running to catch a subway, since I was 16 and had to run a mile in gym class (my time was 11 minutes 30 seconds, and I was trying). I thought this bizarre caprice was unrelated to my abysmal hormonal state, but it turns out that my body was trying to tell me something. Because after I (finally) went running, I felt exponentially better, almost giddy. So, I made running a habit and on the days I couldn't run, I felt it. I would go back to the really frazzled, despondent depression that running was combating. Simple exercise isn't an effective treatment for depression in all people, but it was for me.

Some People Would Test My Patience

After weaning, people's opinions on what they'd thought about my breastfeeding was something I just couldn't handle. (Mainly the, "Thank goodness! It was definitely time for you to stop!") It's like, "Dude, no boobs, no opinion (and even if you have boobs, still no opinion)."

Ad failed to load

Newborns Would Begin To Be Completely Irresistible And I Would Have To Fight Their Siren Song

GIPHY

While I was nursing my daughter, my second and last child, I didn't pay too much mind to the itties bitties who crossed my path. Now that she's no longer on the breast, however, I can't resist shamelessly gazing at each and every squealing, heart-melting newborn I see. My ovaries were playing cruel tricks on me, and I had to fight against this witchcraft because my partner and I had established that we were very happy to remain #twoandthrough.

It Wouldn't Go Exactly As I'd Planned

Does anything, though? When I got ready to begin weaning my son, I always assumed we would slowly whittle down the number of sessions we had in a day until, eventually, he would seamlessly just sort of pop off the boob, kind of like a tick. But, like an actual tick, he had to be pried off with a lot of difficulty and no small degree of annoyance for all involved. We wound up doing something I never wanted to do: cold turkey. My daughter's weaning went a little more according to plan (due, I'm sure, to the fact that this wasn't my first rodeo), but even a second time around, I was up against some stumbling blocks and setbacks.

My Boobs Would Still Be Groped Pretty Constantly

GIPHY

Real talk: my son didn't stop sticking his hand down the front of my shirt (for comfort, when he was scared, absentmindedly, or for fun) until he was about three and a half years old. My daughter, who was recently weaned, is even less smooth about it. She doesn't just stick her hand down my shirt or in my cleavage, she grabs onto as much of my boob as she can and jiggles it. It's like living a very long episode of Mad Men.

Ad failed to load

My Boobs Would Deflate

I swear to God, sometimes I can even hear the sad trombone sound effect when I take my bra off. Fortunately, I hear from several reliable sources that, for many formerly nursing moms, breasts regain size and shape around six months after weaning.

There Is No One Way To Feel

GIPHY

Some women feel a tremendous sense of loss during and after weaning. Others feel a wistful fondness. More still feel unmitigated joy at the freedom of, "having their bodies back to themselves." All of those feelings are completely valid. You're not a jerk if you're not sobbing at the idea of weaning. You're not a crybaby even if weaning makes you cry like a baby. Breastfeeding, on every level and at every stage, is deeply personal, and that includes weaning.

All The Good Feelings I Felt While Breastfeeding Would Find New Outlets

GIPHY

The sweet cuddles, the on-boob smiles, the special bond that had been highlighted by breastfeeding my children, were not exclusively caused by breastfeeding them. So, when that was something we didn't do anymore, we still had that love and closeness: it just finds new ways to manifest.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}