Hi friends! I’ve shared so many parts of motherhood with you, so I wanted to briefly talk about this today. It’s been a lot harder than I ever anticipated (much harder than the first time around!) and I figured there’s someone out there in the same boat. So here it is:
Dayton and I wrapped up breastfeeding just a few weeks before his first birthday. The weirdest thing about it is that isn’t the physical change of not feeding a baby anymore…it’s the psychological change.
^ Our morning routine: wake up, come down to the living room sofa, and watch The Today Show while Dayton nursed. And then we’d sit there and snuggle for a few minutes before big brother woke up. I love his warm, rosy cheeks in this picture.
I’m adjusting….slowly. But there are some weird parts to it. We both had a great experience for the 11 ½ months. He was full and fed, I after I got through that weird patch of sadness while breastfeeding, I got a bunch of benefits like close skin-to-skin snuggles with my baby, all those feel-good hormones, and other fun perks to help recover from birthing.
The ending was gradual and natural; I couldn’t have hoped for a better finale to the past 3.5 years.
A few thoughts:
On knowing it was time to end. Both of my boys stopped breastfeeding sometime between 11 and 12 months. Dayton was getting more and more of his calories from solid foods in the high chair, and he wanted less milk. As he wanted less, my supply would drop, and the cycle continued until we both knew we were done.
When I traveled to Willamette I brought my portable breast pump, but I only pumped once a day. When I got back from that trip, I had enough of a supply to be able to nurse him a few final times before we both decided to be done.
On the very final breastfeeding session. I knew it would be my final time ever nursing a baby (a very emotional thing!). Dayton was more interested in playing/biting than actually consuming milk, and my energy toward it had switched. If this wasn’t supposed to be the end, I would have felt a drive to increase pumping in between feedings, work to up my supply, and try to crank out a few more weeks or months.
But that wasn’t my energy.
^ I have so many pictures like this! Dark and early winter mornings with my Dayton baby. He’d wake around 6:30 each day to nurse, and he’s just such a yummy little baby that I couldn’t help but snap a blurry, makeup-less selfie with him. Such a bug.
Nate was out of town, and Milo was still asleep, so I had this really clear, sweet, wonderful moment: Dayton finished nursing for his final time and looked up at me, and I heard my intuition say in a clear voice: “Kelsey, you’ve done enough.” It was weird! Almost as if there was an actual physical voice saying those words. I started crying and I felt accomplishment but also sadness. I knew we were done.
On milk choices for the final few weeks. I had a few bags of breastmilk left in the freezer, so we used those (I saved one of them for his birthday morning, ha) and supplemented with formula for a couple weeks.
Now that he’s 12 months, he has cows milk in the morning and evening.
On physical changes. During the 2ish years of my life I spent breastfeeding, I felt really skinny. I’m not sure how else to say it… Not like a “strong, lean” type (that feeling is awesome!) but more of a nutrient-deprived, gray-ish skinny. My skin aged a bunch. My body felt out-touched. I actually grew to really like breastfeeding and it felt like a gift I was able to give my babies (I’m so lucky to have had an easy experience both times), but my body felt nutrient-deprived, despite doing my best to fuel it. The hearty foods, veggies, proteins, and supplements couldn’t outweigh the fact that I was using one body to keep two people alive.
So in these first few weeks on the other side of breastfeeding, I’m already feeling like the life is coming back to me. Slowly but surely, I’m feeling a little bit stronger. When Nate and I decided to try to have our two kids pretty quickly back-to-back, I didn’t factor in that breastfeeding for the year in-between pregnancies would deplete me so much. I feel really ready to have my body back to myself.
On the guilt of finishing breastfeeding. I can’t wrap up this blog post without mentioning this: I feel really guilty about not making it to the one year mark. I’ve always been a finisher, and sometimes it’s become unhealthy. I’ve worked to release certain parts of that personality trait, like when I say I have to make it to the 1 year mark of breastfeeding when the 11 ½ month mark is actually where my intuition is telling me to end it.
Even so, for the first few weeks I felt wracked with guilt. Should I have just rallied to the 1-year mark? Am I letting my baby down by supplementing with formula to get to that 12-month mark where he can have cows milk? Am I a quitter? I made it soooo far. 40+ week pregnancies with both babies and almost 2 years of breastfeeding, so what’s wrong with me that I can’t make it to the one year mark of nursing Dayton??
Those are all lies and I can disprove each one, of course. But I’ll be honest and tell you those are the thoughts that went through my head for the first few weeks.
It’s all getting better, but it’s a slow process. I still sometimes cry when I think of how it’s all over. I feel like I was just in that third trimester with Dayton’s pregnancy. And now he’s born and sleep trained and we’re done nursing.
On moving forward. This is the fun part. 🙂 I get to do whatever I want to make my body feel and look amazing, and the only person I have to think about when I’m researching is me. Wheeee!! Yesterday I got my eyebrows microbladed, which is a touch-up appointment I’ve wanted for literally a year. I’m starting to use retinol again, which is the #1 skincare product that I missed during these baby-making years. And I can do fun things like laser hair removal, or chemical peels, or skin pen, or whatever sounds fun and I don’t have to consider the hormonal fluctuation that comes from breastfeeding. So. Much. Fun.
It’s also wonderful to be able to alternate morning routines with Nate. Now that I don’t need to get Dayton up every day to nurse him, Nate and I get up with the boys on alternating days while the other one works out, sleeps, or does some morning quiet time.
Thank you working with me on this, Dayton baby! I am your mom, you are my baby. I am so, so proud of you.
And friends, thanks for being here. I mentioned this breastfeeding ending on instagram the other day, and I heard from several of you who are in the same boat. Who knew it would be sooo emotional? Good god. No one prepares you for this stuff. 😉 Sending big hugs to you, wherever you are.
Taking some time to kind of process, rest, and just be for a little while. It’s been a busy few months lately, launching my Austin travel site and my new San Antonio travel site. I’m logging off of blogging for a month or so to rest and recharge, and I’ll be back shortly. Lots of love!