Breastfeeding No More :: Mom Guilt and Weaning

Photo courtesy of Sally Cavanaugh Photography

Photo courtesy of Sally Cavanaugh Photography

Mom Guilt: The feeling of failure a mother experiences when she can’t be SuperWoman.

Honestly, it’s irrational.  We women put too much pressure on ourselves. We expect too much and do too much. And when we fall short of these crazy expectations, we feel less than worthy.

We need to cut ourselves some slack. Myself included. Because I have it! I have mom guilt to an extreme level. And even though I take it by the horns and try to toss it aside, my heart is burdened each and every day.

I’m not alone. Right? C’mon moms out there…admit it. You’ve got The Guilt, too. Right?

So, what is burdening my heart today? For what am I harboring this insane amount of mom guilt?

48696459-b464-4213-a1c1-f80a5677f695Breastfeeding.

Or, the lack of it, I guess. I’ll come clean. My Little One is 4 months 12 days old, and I have stopped breastfeeding.

And, wait…here it comes. The choking feeling. The tears welling up.

Mom guilt.

It’s not as if this was some spur-of-the-moment, knee-jerk reaction. This decision came after days and weeks of contemplation and careful consideration. It came after a few false stops – you know, where you say, “I’m done” … but you revert back almost immediately (as in, the very next feeding).

I’m a working mom – a teacher, actually. And, no, that isn’t an excuse. But for the past 14 weeks, every break and every planning period for me has started with a 12-15 minutes pumping session. I discretely carry a breast pump and fresh milk from my office to my refrigerator every day. I did it because it was best for my Little One. I love the feeling of providing for him. Even though it was time consuming and mostly inconvenient, I pressed on. No mom guilt.

698b9d9b-bc1b-4a4e-bcd7-1ffde70c9a8dI could do it for the first three months, and when I thought about complaining, I reminded myself what a gift my Little One is and how this is the best way to take care of him. So, I lumbered out of bed every 120 minutes to feed my infant. By the end of three months, I was a zombie. But during those days, my pumping was fruitful, and I joked that I was my Little One’s cow. Oh, how I wish I could be that cow now. {Did I really just say that?}

And then, amidst the exhaustion, it happened.

I can’t fight it anymore. I just can’t.

My milk supply began to dwindle, so I tried all the tricks: pumping after every feeding, and pumping and feeding more often during the weekend. Mother’s Tea. Increased water intake. Massage. Blogs all say, “Your body will make enough milk for the baby. You can’t judge your milk production based on the amount you pump.” Seriously. It was taking me a full day of pumping every 2-3 hours at work to fill one single bottle for my Little One. And, while I was pumping my one measly bottle, Little One had already had three bottles at the sitter’s.

910367b5-1d27-48b9-8ebb-a07993f0069cThen, if I came home and exclusively breastfed, my Little One was eating every two hours from the time we got home until we left for work the next morning. Every two hours through the night. Every night. I thought I was exhausted before! Goodness. I was now teetering on the edge of insanity.

Months ago, I promised myself I wouldn’t beat myself up if it happened. I promised myself I would just move on and be ok. I promised myself that I wouldn’t look at this and think I was a failure.

But here I am – sad to lose this time with Little One. Disappointed that I cannot provide for him. Jealous of the moms who can still breastfeed theirs.

But I will carry on. And I know I am a good mom.

Mom guilt. It will pass with time. But the silly thing is, I’m sure I’ll find something else to make me endure another episode of mom guilt. Oh, the life of Super Woman.

 

 

 

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