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Thread: How do you redefine yourself as a mama after weaning?

  1. #1

    Default How do you redefine yourself as a mama after weaning?

    So, I EP'd for 20 months and stopped about 2 weeks ago. I had some thoughts afterward that can be found here:


    I think I've got a few things going on here... 1 is definitely the hormones changing. I can chaulk a lot up to that. 2 is a great big bunch of guilt. Stopping pumping is kind of acknowledging my failure at BFing all over again. For a while (20 months, even) I felt better that at least she was getting the breastmilk that she needed even if I wasn't able to give her the true BFing experience. Now that she's not getting even that anymore, I have to deal with what I've taken away from her - both her choice in this relationship and the nourishment itself. Which leads to the 3rd thing - I basically defined myself as a mom by the fact that I pumped for Emily. I'm having a little trouble with the confidence that the next phase of me as a mommy will be enough for her. I know that every mamma eventually stops BFing - how do you deal with the anxiety of not having that element of your relationship? Is it very different if you decide to do it vs. allowing your LO to wean themselves??

    Marley & Emily 9-24-10
    (Done as of 5-23-12)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: How do you redefine yourself as a mama after weaning?

    I can't speak to the question about if it is different if they wean on their own. I weaned Lilah, completely mother-led and initiated weaning - when she was 25 months. I started when she was 20ish months, really. I was pregnant and the milk was gone somewhere before she was 20 months old and that is when her father took over bed-time. Then he next took over for her at nights, around 23ish months. At some point, I realized that I could not possibly continue nursing and I weaned her. I was sad that it was before she was ready - she would probably still be nursing right now if she had any say in the matter. At first, it's weird, because you are right - a lot of who I was as a mother was tied up in nursing her. But that passed and now it is not part of our relationship at all. It is normal to feel the way you do, especially with all that you missed out on with having to EP. But don't beat yourself up. Pumping for 20 MONTHS!! That is amazing. What an accomplishment! I can guarantee you that what she sees in you as her mom is not wrapped up in that pump.

    Mommy to
    Lilah 10/08 nursed 25 months
    Beatrix 01/11 nursed 30 months

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    miles from nowhere

    Default Re: How do you redefine yourself as a mama after weaning?

    You just give it time, acknowledge the sad moments as they happen, and try to let them go when they are over. I had to abruptly wean my son when he was 9 months old and I was terrified. Honestly, scared to death that I didn't know how to be a good mother without nursing. But as time went on (which it's gonna do one way or the other) I found other ways to fill the gaps that nursing left behind and we rebuilt the bond that I felt I'd lost (I suspect he never felt like he lost it, but I can't say for sure- I can say that I was a lot more upset about the whole thing than he was).

    As for the guilt, I think you feel that no matter what. I had to stop nursing. I tried everything I could to avoid it, but it was necessary. And I still felt guilt. Terrible, overwhelming guilt at times. Every time I gave him a bottle I'd feel it all over again. But you adapt and your baby adapts and things settle into a new normal and it evens out.

    You did a great job, mama. You should be proud of what you did for your baby. Focus on that, not on what you think you didn't give her.
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    New York

    Default Re: How do you redefine yourself as a mama after weaning?

    when my youngest weaned I also went through menopause, so I too was at a loss as how to define what kind of mother/woman I am.
    I consider myself a breastfeeding mamma, but my children have all weaned.
    Started my family in 1986
    Finally done in 2001

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Ontario, Canada

    Default Re: How do you redefine yourself as a mama after weaning?

    My experience is different, but many of our feelings are the same. I felt guilt when DD1 & DD2 weaned. Why? Because I was pregnant with their subsequent sisters. My production went into the basement, my sensitivity went through the roof and cosleeping became impossible for us (I was too big to feel like I was moving safely around them). My *choice* to get pregnant impacted their BFing relationship with me. Although it was for a wonderful reason, I still felt horrible guilt.

    I now have DD3 and we have no plans for any more babies. So I wonder how long we'll be able to nurse. I've been either trying to get pregnant, pregnant, nursing or nursing and pregnant for 5 years now. Once this stage of my life is over, I wonder how I'll deal. I really don't know.

    What I DO know is that we have a wonderful foundation where we know that we've done the very best for our children. We have a solid foundation which we can move forward confident in that fact.
    Mommy to our DD1 early bird (34 weeks, 2 days, 7lbs, 14oz)! Oct. 2nd, 2008 Emergency C-Section, Frank Breech, HEALTHY Girl!
    Weaned @ 17 months
    Our DD2 early bird (37 weeks, 3 days, 7lbs, 12oz) Aug. 10th, 2010 Our Successful VBAC, growing like a bad weed!
    Weaned @ 15 months
    Our DD3 early bird (37 weeks, 3 days, 7lbs, 6oz) Feb. 16th, 2012 Our 2nd VBAC and lightening speedy birth!

    Loving being a Mom of 3, 40 months apart!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Re: How do you redefine yourself as a mama after weaning?

    Mama, I'm struggling with the same issues. I had zero choice in the matter...I HAD to pump for him... But I have never decided about nursing's end other than nightweaning my two oldest. So this is a new ball game. I don't think they care, but it is a struggle for me to resolve. Fortunately, I have a lot of mom experience to stand on, so I know not nourishing my little guy via my milk will be OK, when the day comes, but I know it is something I will always regret (and it wasn't even my fault...his physical abnormality was the issue, and TBH, he has done well, as most kids with CP have many issues. Kids born in nations where mom doesn't have access to pumps clean water die.) It isn't the end I foresaw to childbearing, as we are most likely done (barring an oops baby), and I had planned to do child led weaning the whole way, and that makes me sad
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Southern NM

    Default Re: How do you redefine yourself as a mama after weaning?

    I think all moms have regrets. I now look back and wish that I had nursed my first two longer and had worked harder when I hit the wall with pumping with DS1. I wish I could have taken off more time with each of them. I wish I had more patience with them still.

    Breastmilk is important, but even for the longest nursers here it is still a small part of your overall time and effort as a mother. And while you might have defined yourself as a mother based upon your pumping for her, I cannot believe that pumping is the only parenting thing you do for her at 20 months. You feed her other foods, you dress her, you change her diaper, you play with her, you cuddle her. All of those things are important mothering things. And just because most of those things are things other people can do for her, I can guarantee that it is different and better for her when you do it.

    That being said, I don't think you should be afraid of mourning what you did not have as well as wondering what might have been. I would only be concerned if it made it impossible for you to see what you are doing as a mother.

    Our roles as mothers are constantly changing; I am acutely aware of this fact as DD heads toward middle school this fall. I spend a lot of time feeling like I am about six months behind on the parenting curve.
    I am Erin--happily married to the nerd of my dreams for 15 years
    High School Science Teacher
    Mother to: Thing 1 9/23/01, bf 15 mo, diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma 1/29/02, officially cancer free for ten years in August 2012
    Thing 2 6/6/05, bf 12 mo, obsessed with dynamite
    Glowworm 2/18/11, bf 15 months and counting

  8. #8

    Default Re: How do you redefine yourself as a mama after weaning?

    Thank you all so much for your kind words - I truly appreciate you sharing your experiences with me. Being a first-time mama can be so lonely sometimes!

    I'm beginning to think that with almost every mama "decision" I'll always wonder "what if I had (tried harder/waited longer/etc.)?" and this one is no different. I have so much that's amazing about my relationship with Emily to concentrate on. She is really so wonderful and I couldn't imagine her having turned out any more perfect if I had been able to nurse her directly longer.

    Thank you again, mamas!
    Marley & Emily 9-24-10
    (Done as of 5-23-12)

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