January 8, 2010

Reader Question: Weaning Hormones

Gayle writes:
Hi Swistle! So, as you're, like, the ONLY person I have ever met who has copped to having a tough time emotionally after weaning, I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions. These post-weaning hormones are kicking my ASS, see, and I just...I dunno. I guess I kinda want to feel like I am not just plain old garden-variety crazy, and that I will go back to feeling like a normal effing person again.

How long did the post-weaning funk last for you? And what did it feel like? I don't really think I have full-on PPD or anything - I don't feel depressed, per se, I am mostly just being suuuuuper hard on myself and feeling sad about the baby getting older, not "needing" me anymore, etc. I plan to call my midwife group this afternoon & see if there's someone I can talk to/if they have any suggestions for natural remedies or things I can do. I don't really want someone to slap a prescription in my hand, just because 1) I think (hope) this is temporary and don't want to bring medication into the picture, and 2) honestly, I don't think it's terrible enough to warrant medication...but it is bothersome enough to make me feel kind of low-grade miserable most of the time.

I guess what I'm looking for from you is what you pretty much already said in your comment on the blog: that you went through this too. I know you, uh, ALREADY SAID THAT TO ME, but...you know. I just felt like I had to get it out there to someone else besides Brad, who gets more and more concerned every time I burst into random tears.

Thanks for reading this hormonal rambling.

Dude! Totally, you are not alone: weaning was, I'd say, my WORST hormone time, worse than pregnancy, worse than postpartum. I would sit limply in a chair, tears leaking silently from my eyes as I imagined my baby a WRINKLED OLD MAN ALONE IN A NURSING HOME.

My second baby's weaning was the most memorably awful. He was 11.5 months old when I wanted to go to my grandmother's funeral (a several-day trip, altogether). I brought a pump with me to keep the milk going and figured I'd just pick it up again when I got home. And when I got home, Paul said William had done totally fine without nursing while I was gone, and that we shouldn't start him in the habit again only to break him of it so soon and possibly with more trouble since maybe it'd helped that I hadn't been home. Well, and that made sense to me, I guessed, and he looked like such a big kid sitting in his high chair eating a quesadilla and drinking milk out of a cup, so...okay.

Well, WHOA. I then spent a couple of weeks feeling like I'd made THE BIGGEST AND MOST IRREVOCABLE MISTAKE OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. Why oh why had I weaned him? Maybe I could start him nursing again? Maybe it wasn't too late? I cried and cried and cried over it, which was weird because one year was roughly how long I'd planned to nurse him and here we were at one year, and he was fine with it and taking milk from a cup so WHY WAS THIS SUCH A BIG DEAL? It just WAS a big deal, that's all. It was a HUGE DEAL and it was ALL MY/PAUL'S FAULT and EVERYONE'S LIFE WAS RUINED.

Ooo, look, I journaled it. Okay, so he was weaned at 11.5 months. One week and one day later: "I'm so sad about weaning. I can't pinpoint why, so I assume it's hormonal. I feel like he weaned too early, like it wasn't the way it should have been. I feel more and more upset about it. Even though he's doing fine and doesn't seem to miss it. Even though he's nearly a year old anyway. Even though lots of babies wean way before one year. Even though it makes sense to take advantage of the accidental 'clean break' and not start up and have to wean all over again. Nevertheless, I feel heavy and tired with sadness. I have that feeling of things not being worth doing, things not being fun, nothing in particular to look forward to. I don't even particularly LIKE nursing, so I don't know what's the matter with me. I wish I HAD nursed him when I got home, and I wish everything was back the way it was planned."

At 1 week and 3 days: "Still feeling down. I feel tired, like I can't handle anything. I'm irritable and intolerant. Series of normal little incidents seem like they require massive solutions, such as confining both children and going into another room to lie down. When the sink is full of dishes, it seems like a good plan to carry them all outside and leave them there, or maybe THROW them out there. I'm sleeping soundly, waking with difficulty, tired by 8:00 in the morning, ready for bed at 8:00 in the evening."

At 1 week and 4 days: "I don't know what's the matter with me; it's like I've lost my mind. I'm on the edge of fury all the time; I spent all yesterday and all morning so far today losing it over every little thing. EVERYTHING drives me crazy in about 2 seconds. It seems way out of hand."

At 2 weeks: "I'm feeling better now. Less sad, less angry, but still with Moods."

At 2 weeks 1 day: "I don't feel as sad anymore but I'm still struggling with being too easily frustrated and angered."

At 2 weeks 2 days: "VERY crabby and teary. Feelings of not being able to cope, of never getting anything done, of always having children HANGING on me. Yelling. Still leaking."

After that I don't see any more mentions of it, though I do still see mentions of being overwhelmed and discouraged, but I think that went more with the Toddler And Baby situation than with the Weaning.

By the time I weaned the twins, and later Henry, I had a pretty good idea of what worked for me: weaning verrrrrry slowly, one feeding at a time, and not taking out another feeding until we (meaning me and the baby, not taking Paul's input anymore) felt ready. (I WANTED weaning to be a decision We The Parents would make together, but that turned out not to work for me, and I didn't want a repeat of the time I was angry at and resentful of Paul over the William Weaning Fiasco.)

I did still have hormone issues with the weaning, but not NEARLY as bad. I remember distinctly when I weaned the twins they were only nursing once every day or two, and I suddenly felt ready to be done, but even then I didn't make any Big Final Decisions, I just offered a cup of milk if I didn't feel like nursing (and nursed if the baby didn't want the cup and continued to want to nurse), and nursed if I did feel like it.

I just looked it up in my journal and I don't see any mention of weaning-related sadness. On the other hand, I got pregnant with Henry almost the very day I weaned the twins for good, so that may have affected the hormone situation JUST A BIT. Oh, in fact, that was around the time I started this blog, so if you want you can read what I wrote about weaning and the pregnancy announcement two weeks later, and then what I wrote when I was weaning THAT baby (Henry).

Oh, but I'm getting distracted. Those of you who breastfed and had Weaning Sadness (and/or Weaning Crazies), can you reassure Gayle that she's not alone?

63 comments:

Christina said...

I only have two kids. One is still nursing at 17 months. The other I nursed till 20 months. Weaning was easy by that time because the baby chose it mostly and I was ready to be done. I was sad to be done because I loved it so I mourned that a little bit but then I was all YEAH no baby hanging from ma booby! Not sure that is helpful to Gayle if she has already weaned.

I do know that in hindsight I had awful PPD for about a year after I had my first so I know the feeling. Two things that I changed and helped me immensely with my second was getting out of the house every single day and starting to exercise almost right away after having the baby.

Those two things took me outside of myself. If I was out and interacting with the real world, it was like a pardigm shift and if I was exercising well there was an instant shift in energy and endorphins totally beat out crazy hormones issues! :)

Emily said...

Gayle, you are not alone. I don't do well with hormonal changes, period, and I know this about myself. I went completely crazy when I got pregnant, refused to take medication for it, got waaaaay worse postpartum, finally caved on the meds, and got better. Then we weaned. And I got crazy again. My OB upped my dose of meds, and life got better. I started trying to wean myself from the meds, and, whoops, I got pregnant again, so I went back on them (and have spent the last five or so months slowly been sinking back down to the crazy place).

I guess I don't really have any advice for you, as I was full-on crazy and needed to be medicated. Just know that you're not the only one to go nuts with weaning.

Nicole said...

I remember when my milk was gone and my breasts were so very soft, and it was the saddest thing. I was so sad, that feeling of milky fullness was gone.

Brenna said...

I had the post-nursing sadness, and in fact am going through it right now. I'm down to 1 feeding per day with the *ahem*...28 month old (she just doesn't want to quit, but I've designated 30 months as our definite quitting point). I can hardly wait to stop completely, but I can still feel the hormonal tug.

And can I just say that 'weaning' is on my list of words that completely skeeve me to hear? Right before 'moist' and just after 'squat'.

parkingathome said...

My boobs failed me and I had a whole lot of other crap going on (and still going on) so I have no idea if my crying silently because I put away the elephant onesie and therefore my baby is going to college and never going to call me again issues were because of my quick wean or something else.

What made me extremely happy when I weaned was the huge 32 oz. Midori sour Hubs made me. I kept an ongoing list of crap I could put into my body now that no one was taking any sustenance out. Bring on the extra (8) cups of coffee!

jiveturkey said...

Hi everyone - this is Gayle, your Resident Weaner (HEE.) Thanks for all of your comments so far, and for Swistle for posting this. I just wanted to clarify:

- I weaned very gradually (thanks to uninterested baby and dwindling supply), and was mostly relieved and ready to see the end of breastfeeding. But the kid is definitely weaned 100% now (she is 9 months, and my first).
- I am also suffering from the EXTREME irritability that Swistle mentioned, which makes me a real joy to be around.

Brenna, reading the word "squat" totally made my day. Emily, I hope things get easier for you soon.

bessieviola said...

Oh no no Gayle, you are not alone. I got the post-weaning crazies too, exacerbated by the fact that it was at 10 months and I didn't want to wean but my milk dried up.

However, I had unaddressed PPD to deal with as well, and so for me I didn't go back to normal until I had an affair with Zoloft. So I don't know if I'm helpful, but I want to let you know that you're DEFINITELY not alone.

Hugs to you, and good luck.

T with Honey said...

Holy smokes! Reading this made something click in my head... I bet that the less often pumping/nursing is another part of the reason I get so moody a month after returning to work. I have this overall feeling of UGH and GLOOM and that something has GOT to change.

I can "get away with" pumping only twice while I'm at work and still have enough to feed the boy - barely. Plus he is now consistently sleeping through the night. So in the past month I have gone down one feeding overnight and one pumping/feeding during the day time. It's the equivalent of beginning the weaning process.
Maybe I don't really want to quit my job and yank both kids out of daycare/preschool and cancel all extracurricular activities so I can spend every waking moment with my family. (yeah, I knew this before but it was how I felt trying to fall asleep last night)
Thank you!

Sam said...

I know that Moxie of Ask Moxie (www.askmoxie.org) always recommends fish oil to help with hormones and depression (especially post-partum). Totally swears by it. So you might want to try that? I expected to have major emotional issues with the end of breastfeeding, but I think it was just so gradual AND I was so very ready for it to end (after two years). I got lucky and felt surprisingly okay. Good luck to you and here's hoping you feel better soon! And congratulations on doing a great job breastfeeding your sweet baby.

hydrogeek said...

Oh dear Lord. Yes. Me. My first gently weaned down to one nursing at night night time and then my husband and I went on a weekend trip and I didn't offer and she didn't ask when I got home. Unbeknownst to me, I got pregnant on that trip. My second was still nursing twice a day at 13 months when he got an ear infection and started refusing to suck. I tried for a solid week to get him back on the boob and he would just bite and turn away. In both cases, I had some hormone swing/depression/teariness when the kids started on solid foods and went from constant nursing/pumping to just a few times a day, then a HUGE drop when they weaned for good. Seems like when I was pregnant, it wasn't as bad, but this second time around. Whew. Life was BAD, nothing was RIGHT, and there was just no use even trying, because everything was going to suck anyway. That lasted...maybe a month, with 2 weeks of it being horrible? Just hang in there, try to get a little excercise and fresh air maybe? Moxie swears by T-Tapp for this kind of thing.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I went back to read those earlier posts, Swistle, and I'm so glad I did! Mary's comment on "Weaned" about all the annoying things about nursing had me cracking up!

"he'll keep shoving his weird-smelling, sweaty hand into my mouth while I'm trying to talk"

and

"he'll pinch my boob (and) his nails feel like daggers"

So true! And funny!

Jen said...

Let's try this again...Blogger ate my first comment.

Though I found the actual process of weaning relatively easy, in looking back, I feel like I was in an emotional fog for the few months after I stopped. I would vascillate widely between "oh yay, it is so nice to be done" to "why oh why did I stop" *sob*. I read somewhere that it takes about three months for hormones to stablize and for me that was nearly exactly right.

Alexa said...

Okay, I can't even remember exactly when I "weaned" Simone (I think it was around a year), because 1) I didn't do it intentionally, rather her interest and my supply both dropped off dramatically and 2) because for a long, LONG time, I kept nursing once every night, and kidding myself that the weaning wasn't happening, and eventually we'd start nursing more again.
When nursing stopped entirely...I lost it. I felt awful. Guilty, and sad, and WOE, WOE, THE RAVAGES OF TIME. A week or so later was the worst, as I recall, and I even started looking into INDUCING LACTATION, the way adoptive mothers do. I could start again! I told myself. I could start again, and nurse for another YEAR!
I had never expected to get so emotional about breastfeeding, and by the time I stopped I had tapered so much that I think the hormonal component was mostly spent, so my point is that aside from the hormone drop, which is real and awful for many, the purely mental part can be bizarrely excruciating too. But it did pass. I promise.

Party of 5 said...

Gayle! I just finished nursing my 10 month old and my moods have gone apeshit. I don't feel the sadness, I just have terrible moodiness, intolerance, no patience. That's very unlike me. I let it go two months like that and then finally called my Dr. I SOOO didn't want to go on medication either but for my sanity and the well-being of my family I did. And I hate it. But it works. Best of luck to you and what you decide to you. Hormone shit is REAL and shouldn't be taken lightly. Hugs!

Shannon said...

Gayle, you aren't alone! While I didn't have the weaning depression/mood issues I DID have them all through the pregnancy and the first year. But I know lots of people who had the issues with weaning. I think everyone's different and the whole process of pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding and weaning just effs your hormones right the eff up! Hang in there! Things will return to whatever is normal for you eventually! Be kind to yourself in the mean time.

diniwilk said...

I have nothing to offer re: weaning as I have a 3 month old who loooooooooves to eat, but I am so happy you linked to those old posts! The part about La Leche League cracked me up and made me feel SO much better because I had cracked, bleeding nipples the first 3 weeks. I was so sick of hearing about how that ONLY happens if you are doing something wrong and I must just suck at breastfeeding. I had them check my baby's latch many times at the hospital and read every piece of literature I could find - I am sure that we were doing it the "right" way. Everything is fine now, but I really appreciated re-reading your thoughts on the matter. I'm sure I'll come back to this post when I wean (and I TOTALLY agree that it's an icky word haha)

Sarah said...

Sorry, this is long:
I don't remember weaning Adelay as being terribly difficult, but she never nursed well, I never had a good supply, and she was totally uninterested in my breasts by about six months old. She was born four weeks early and never sucked very well so they supplemented her at the hospital and then that classic preemie and pretermer thing happened where nursing just never... took, if you will. Even when I was producing milk, I mostly pumped and gave it to her in a bottle because she was a very lazy sucker. So maybe I didn't have a huge nursing "bond" going anyways?
Eli was a champ nurser, I had plenty of milk, and weaning was very sad for me. EVen though he was still waking twice a night at eleven months old and I was going out of my mind with sleep deprivation and should have been THRILLED to be done nursing. Also the REASON I weaned him was that I got (somewhat) unexpectedly pregnant and my dr. advised to stop. And then I miscarried. So, um, there was pretty much a hormonal MINDFUCK going on, if you'll excuse the expression. I just can't think of another to convey how truly nuts and not myself and insanely sad and miserable I felt for a few months. I can't even say specifically what it was... I always assumed I just got depressed after I lost the baby, but maybe the weaning AND the pregnant AND the miscarriage was what triggered such a big sad spell. Hmm.

Jen said...

oh, no no no...definitely not alone. i nursed exclusively until i went back to work (3 months) and then pumped at work & nursed at home.

around 12 months, i started feeling ready to try and wean...or at least start cutting back. she was utterly uninterested in stopping ANY of the nursing but i thought i'd be smart and drop a pumping session at work. that was the part i hated anyway.

yeah, not a good idea. i fell down down down into a black depression, got all morbid & weepy, imagining terrible things happening to me or the baby.

i too started reading askmoxie and found some good info. i added that pumping session back in to boost my mood out of the well and started taking fish oil and a b100 complex.

lo and behold, when i cut down pumping again (slower this time) and then nursing decreased a few months later, no black depression. i went very slowly (like you) but i swear by the fish oil and vitamin b. they totally helped.

here's the thread: www.askmoxie.org/2007/08/qa-ppd-after-we.html

(longest comment ever.)

Kristi said...

I purposely and quickly weaned my first daughter 'early' at 10 months (goal was 12) to FIT MY GIGANTOR BOSOMS INTO A BRIDESMAID'S DRESS FOR A BRIDE I DIDN'T EVEN LIKE AND NO LONGER SPEAK WITH. And it didn't really even help.

And I cried long and hard over that poor, stupid, ridiculous decision.

jen(melty) said...

Definitely not alone!!! I agree with Swistle that it was the worst part, in front of pregnancy and postpartum. I was irritable and had WILD mood swings and was sad about it all at the same time. Even though I weaned gradually, i was still in the thick of it before I realized what was wrong with me. The first 2 times I weaned, I was pregnant, so I could blame it on the pregnancy. The third child weaned, and I was thrown for a loop (that's an UNDERSTATEMENT.) It did not help one bit that our nursing relationship was rife with struggle from day one, and I have a lot of unresolved emotions about the way things went with him. I wish I could have gone out with a bang, and have a clone of my 2nd child's nursing experience. Oh there I go getting all sad about it again.

Anna said...

Yeah, I felt like crap after I stopped breastfeeding Laura. It was my decision to stop, and I felt horribly guilty and sad about it. Fortunately I'd read that Hormones could make you feel that way, so I tried to distract myself and got through it OK. I agree that it was worse than post-partum or pregnancy mood swings, though.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

I'm nursing my second at the moment and mentally noting to GO easy when we get to weaning this time around because it was SO rough when I weaned my first. Well, she really weaned herself, basically pushed me away around 14 months and never looked back. I was okay with it but SAD and DOWN and LIFE IS NOTHING BUT WOE for a long time afterwards (2 months? 3?). Also? Weight gain. Acne. Etc. Etc. KICKING A GIRL WHILE SHE'S DOWN ETC.

You are SO not alone.

jonniker said...

Oh SO NOT ALONE. When my daughter started eating solids and I nursed less, I went BAZONKERS. I was wailing! Moody! Angry! Upset! And then it occurred to me that, huh, I sure was nursing less. And huh, didn't that mean that my hormones were a'changin'?

HUH.

For this reason, I am dreading weaning. Dreading. My daughter is 10 months old, and I'd like to be done by 18 months, and even now, I keep thinking, ONLY EIGHT MORE MONTHS. WOE.

jiveturkey said...

You guys are awesome. Thank you all so much (and the Moxie link was great). You've all made me feel so much better about the time a couple weeks ago when I flung all the tiles from Bananagrams across the room in a hormone-induced rage. WEANING! Ruining Family Game Night Since 2009.

Anonymous said...

I was still breastfeeding my third baby at age 21 months because I had pre-weaning doldrums, and I would probably be nursing that child to this day (at almost 5 years old!!!!), but then my husband became unexpectedly and terribly sick, necessitating a stay in the hospital with me there to help him and talk to doctors, etc., and I left the baby home with loving and capable grandparents, giving breastfeeding nary a backward glance. He adjusted fine, and to be honest, I was so worried about my husband that by the time my husband was all better, and we were all settled back at home, I realized that my baby was weaned, but I was so relieved my husband was alive and well that I didn't feel the sadness I had been anticipating. I think if the whole husband-sick-hospital thing did not happen, though, I would have lost my mind when it came time to wean my third (and last!!!!) baby. I could feel the depression coming my way. So - I have no words of wisdom except to say that I feel your pain, and it is very real, and a lot of us have felt the burden of this pain. You are not alone!!!!
~Jenny in MD

M&Co. said...

I don't have much to add to this, because my children were adopted and I didn't have these issues. However, the symptoms Swistle describes sounds almost exactly like it feels to quit smoking.

Nowheymama said...

It never even OCCURRED to me that weaning = massive mood issues until you wrote about it the first time. I was SO grateful for those posts. WHY isn't this more common knowledge, especially for those of us who apparently aren't as in touch with our bodies as you are?

Whimsy said...

Oh dear was I a SAD SACK OF MESS when I stopped nursing... and I was one of those that had weaning forced upon me by a body that just up and decided to have sudden supply problems coupled with a baby that explained (at 6 months) that such a thing was UNACCEPTABLE. Oh the horror. And at the time, I just thought I was nuts. As did my husband. Now I know better: THE WEANING. Oh the weaning. I got angry and confused and weepy and irritable and mean and any other negative word you can throw in there. Fun times.

Farrell said...

Um Yeah. Didn't breast feed the first time (couldn't because I was on too high dose of meds) and uh, now reading this stuff, don't think it would have gone all that well for me; esp. not the weaning.

But I truly, truly admire every single woman who has breastfed and I look upon it with absolute fascination; a miracle. And I'm kind of sad I never did it, but I had the meds plus some other circumstances going on. Still, I sometimes feel as if I've missed out on a crucial part of motherhood.

Marie Green said...

Yep, what everyone's already said. Happened to me too.

Also? One of the thing, no scratch that, THE main thing I miss about having a baby around in the breastfeeding. I know, I know. But I just LOVED it. (And I had my share of infections, plugged ducts, and other maladies, but still. Loved.) I especially love newborn nursing, before they get all squirmy and pulling on and off and on and off.

I also nursed twins. We should write a "nursing twins" post together sometime, Swistle.

Drew and Emily said...

I have absolutely no postpartum depression but when my oldest weaned himself at a little over 10 months I was miserable. I was so sad and cranky.

Jessa said...

I had trouble with my daughter weaning because neither of us was ready and she then cried out in the middle of the night for a year after still looking for milk from me. :( I'd never heard of weaning sadness before, but it makes complete sense.

laura said...

Totally not alone. My daughter weaned herself at 9 months and 2 weeks later I felt like I hit rock bottom. At my dr's suggestion, I upped my vitamin D, iron, and calcium intake, which helped nominally along with some additional exercise. Then we discussed a super-low dose of Zoloft, which I eventually decided was the best thing to do b/c my moods were still so up and down... particularly once my period came back. I can honestly say it was the best thing I ever did. My moods are much more steady, and I feel like I'm a better mother, wife and friend... a huge weight off my shoulders!

I'm not saying that this is what your reader should do, but I just wanted her to know that there are options, and sometimes medication can be the best one if other things aren't working.

Bea said...

I had terrible, terrible depression when I weaned my son - so much so I saw a doctor about it, who counselled me to return in two weeks if my symptoms were unchanged. Two weeks later I was completely fine - the symptoms were short-lived but INTENSE. And they were totally unrelated to feeling sad about no longer breastfeeding - I was fine with that part, it was the constant suicidal urges that bothered me. With my daughter, I was more aware of my susceptibility to weaning hormones, and I noticed that I had terrible mood swings every time I had to adjust my milk supply downwards, whether from oversupply or from dropping a feeding. When I weaned her I was in a fog of misery for about two weeks, but I knew what it was (and that it would go away), so it didn't bother me as much.

Anonymous said...

I haven't weaned yet..... But I see my future sadness so fully. I adore breastfeeding little tiny seven month old Emilia. I was sad in a way to startsolids, to open her pristine GI tract to non-breastmilk.... I almost took a picture of her last pure breastmilk diaper. I hope to breastfeed as long as I can but the day it is over will undoubtedly be sad. I empathize in advance. It is a gift you gave your child, celebrate that and allow the sadness of passing time to be acknowledged. With love, Erica

Mama Bub said...

I absolutely echo everything Swistle said. I could have written those journal entries myself. My baby self-weaned before I was ready, but I think I would have felt that way regardless. I wasn't in control of my thoughts or emotions at ALL!

Kelly said...

yes, breastfeeding hormones in general were wacked. and during weaning everything went apeshit. so, yeah, roger allllll that.

Laura said...

My sister never mentioned trouble with weaning, but then again... Jeron's teeth came in early. And he was a biter. And he drew blood a few times before my sister called it quits at around ten months. He had almost a full set of teeth by eleven months! (I find this amazing because my niece is 19 months and while she has most of her front teeth, she doesn't have any molars that actually match up.)

My sister-in-law didn't nurse past the first few days, but there was a good reason behind it. She's the sole support of the family while my brother is still in school, so breastfeeding wasn't going to last long. Since we take care of the baby, she was making it so that said baby was used to bottles because it was easier. That being said, I miss the bottle days. :D Since Mom and I are partly raising Evie, we got our share of holding the baby to feed her. I miss the snuggles. Even after she could hold her own bottle, she wanted to be cuddled and have us do it. I miss that.

Sarah said...

I nursed my son until he was about 20 months old. We were down to two feedings a day (at night, mostly) and I still had a very hard time emotionally when I weaned him. He didn't seem to mind the not nursing anymore at all, but I cried and cried. I was irritable, Sad, anxious and unreasonable. It was awful. And then three weeks later it was over and I was back to my old self. The weaning hormones were much harder for me than the post-partum hormones (maybe because I hated being pregnant? Who knows...).

Take care of yourself, Gayle. Hopefully you have any understanding partner at home who will pamper you for a couple of weeks.

Misguided Mommy said...

i weened my son almost a year ago and i have to tell you, it still kicks my ass. At first, the hormones were awful. I would feel like I was depriving him of something. They say breastfed babies don't get sick as often so the first time he got sick post ween i totally blamed myself. of course i also started gaining weight which made matters worse because obviously that would fuck with my head too. i won't lie, in the end i went on zoloft to help me get over it a lot faster. i loved nursing, it made me feel like the best mom doing the best thing for my kid. when i pumped and i got 12 oz in a bottle i felt like i should win a nursing olympic medal, and suddenly i was basically useless, just and average mom and i hated that. every time codi got hurt or cried and i couldn't just pick him up and nurse him i was devastated.

now that it is all passed i have nursing envy. i see other moms nurse and i miss it. while i don't want anymore kids and even have my tubes tied i swear every time i see someone nurse i find myself wanting another baby just to have that moment. there is no better moment then nursing your baby and looking down and realize that they are staring up at you as happy as ever and at that moment loving you more then anyone in the world. now, i take comfort knowing how much my baby bonded with me, and how for now at least i will still be his favorite person.

is it hard YES. does it take a while to get over YES. is it hard talking about it to people who have never had kids, or only formula fed YES. and that is why we have blogs, so you can come here and talk about how hard it is...we all understand, it does get better, and you can take comfort for the rest of your life knowing that you are the best mom in the world because you made the choice to do the best thing you could for your child, and give them the best food you could. take comfort knowing how selfless you were, so many moms don't nurse so they can drink and smoke and party. so many moms only nurse a couple months because they don't have the patience for pumping or whatever, you did the very best thing you could from the second your baby was born, and no matter what you will always have that knowledge!

Misguided Mommy said...

btw swis i asked a question on my blog come answer it

Jen said...

I weaned my daughter when she was 13 months. I did it so that I could start on the hormones needed to do a surrogate pregnancy. At the time I was ok with it but I won't lie. I have occasionaly wondered it I weaned too soon or for the wrong reasons. Maybe that's silly because she was 100% ok with being weaned and didn't seem to miss it at all. Anyway, hormones were not an issue when I weaned her.

After my surrogate son was born I pumped milk for 4 weeks for him. I wanted to go longer but for various reasons it didn't work out. When I quit I went on a major hormone roller coaster. It was 10x worse than post-partum blues. I cried a lot, I was pissed of and cranky a lot of the time, I was no fun to be around. I know in retrospect that part of this was frustration with how pumping had gone and how (and why it had ended) but at the time I thought it was all hormones.

After a couple of weeks I evened out again. I'm currently pregnant with two more surrogate children and I plan to express milk for them as well. This time I'm prepared for the crazy horrmones that will no doubt accompany the end of the milky road.

Joanne said...

I am nursing my third, she is almost eight months old. My first was weaned by 9 months (bad nurser) and my second by 10 months (pregnant with third), so this might be my first that I go all the way until one year. I do not love nursing but I can always tell that it screws with me hormonally when I wean them. I like to just drop a feeding a day for a week at a time. It takes forever but it seems to help. Of course, I am a pretty crazy bitch normally, so God knows my husband might disagree!

the new girl said...

I weaned really slowly but would have that kind of sadness that only really comes with *hormones* for me...that irrational, WOE-WOE-WOE kind of sadness with every downshift.

Oh, I'd forGOTTEN about that, Gayle. Now I'm going to have to do it aaaaaaall over again.

Whooo hooo.

Lucy said...

ok...this post has really truly intrigued me. I totally can't relate to this. Yet, I wish I could. I had absolutely no problems weaning...I couldn't wait. I needed my "freedom" back and I loved knowing that my child was taking the next step in the growing process. I'm backwards I guess. So get this? I'm a little jealous! I'm not a nurturing type of mom and wish I was more. This has been nice for me to read this post and comments. Thanks all!

Amy said...

I'm currently nursing my 8 month old (my first) and have to agree COMPLETELY with Erica above about feeling sad when she started on solids because I am no longer the sole provider for her. I never thought I would want to nurse my daughter for longer than a year, but I keep thinking that it might not be a bad idea. Or maybe I'm dreading the weaning hormones...

What MisGuided Mommy said above made me all teary.

Amy

The Amazing Trips said...

Snort. I enjoyed nursing so much - and so dreaded the weaning hormones that I *JUST* weaned Henry last month. If you recall, my Henry is just a tad bit younger than YOUR Henry.

I think I deserve a medal for that. Or a plaque that reads, "Hippie!"

For the past year, my hormones have definitely been crazy. And I think that the PMS rages I've been having at this phase in my life are positively frightening.

Carrie said...

I was blogging today about being crazy and sad and mentioned that I thought it might be related to weaning my baby and a friend mentioned your blog and I am SO glad she did. Because it so helps to know that I am not insane and I am just having crazy hormone issues and that other people have these problems too. I love you all :)

Anonymous said...

Wow - I can't tell you how relieved I am to have found all these posts. I am rapid-weaning my 6.5 month old out of necessity. He has been a major biter since 2 months and none of the "techniques" worked to get him to stop. When he finally got his first tooth a couple of weeks ago, the biting became tear-inducing. I kept at it until two days ago when he actually tore my nipple. It was excruciating and nauseating. This little man is so lovey and snuggly, so it just breaks my heart, but I cannot keep nursing him. I'm terrified every time he latches of being ripped again. So I'm weaning. He seems totally fine with it, but I'm a mess. And, as others have mentioned here, I seem to be majorly impacted by the hormone shifts associated with pregnancy, post-partum and nursing, but this is the worst it's been for me. I'm sure sleep deprivation isn't helping. I have 3 boys - the oldest of whom is not even 3.5, so I feel like it's been forever since I haven't had reproductive hormones of one kind or another coursing through me. I alternate between extreme impatience/irritability and sadness/lethargy. I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of wonderful things with my family, times I won't be able to get back. I have always wanted 4 kids, but I don't think I can put myself, my body or my family through another go 'round. Might be time for birth control. Thanks for all who have posted. It's so nice to know there are others who have this happen.

Carol said...

Thank you ladies for all these comments - they have helped me to realise what is going on with me too! I have just weaned my 18 month old - we were down to 1 feed a day and he just stopped being interested. Emotionally, I am fine with him being weaned but I think it is playing havoc with my hormones. All of a sudden I'm irritable, cross and feeling down. It just struck me this morning that it could be weaning related, and thank goodness I have found all these comments. It's great to know I'm not alone and that this stage will pass. Has anyone else had a headache post weaning. Mine isn't full on but i just seem to have a constant dull head at the moment!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm smack dab in the middle of weaning my almost 18 month old. She has an older sibling whom I also weaned at 18 months, so kuddos to me for making it this far with a second child. I really wanted to wean her at 12 months, just to be done with it. But I have to say that with this one, I am experiencing the weirdest hormonal issues! I was really weapy post partum with the second child too, which didn't happen with the first. I wouldn't call it depression, but definately told my husband that I had lost my mojo, I just don't feel like me. We are down to one feed a day, and she is doing great. I am irratable, tired, and generally unhappy (even though I really want to wean)! Go figure! I just now figured out it could be hormonal and googled it tonight, I'm glad I did. There are others who have experienced this too!

MissinBoobyTime said...

My milk supply slowly declined after taking some contraceptives, and before I knew it, my 7 month old was pretty unsatisfied with breastfeeding. My husband suggested that this was the perfect time to start weaning, and she happily took to formula...no complaints at all. Which made it all the worse! I would have got some sick enjoyment out of her being unhappy about it. (See...she DOES need me) But no such luck. So now I am going crazy, weepy, guilty, etc. This has been one crazy rollercoaster ride and it has only been 2 days. I was *this close* to digging through the trash to get my breast pumping accessories out of the garpage...no lie.

pinkbrain said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone! I am in the middle of weaning my 13 month old and I feel like hell. I Googled "when will my hormones return to normal after weaning". Seriously, not one of my friends who already weaned their babies mentioned the downward spiral of despair, just a mention of a sore boob for 3 days.
I feel so normal right now after reading this!
I feel like I can do this, that I shouldn't look back. Just don't offer anymore because really, I just get bit, it doesn't soothe my son anymore.

joeysmama said...

Man!!! I am sooo glad to know that i am not alone!! My 12 month old just decided he didn't want to nurse anymore and for about the past month I was practically forcing him to nurse. He was down to just nursing twice a day, once in the morning and just before bed at night. He would latch on for a few seconds and then let go. I would switch sides then hoping he would hang in there and after doing that over and over finally my milk would let down and he would do ok then. Well, he got really tired of that routine so he finally just wouldn't even latch on. I nursed my other 3 children until they were around 15-16 months and with them my milk just pretty much dried up and i don't remember ANY emotional problems afterward BUT since my little guy just quit nursing about 2 weeks ago i feel EXACTLY LIKE SWISTLE'S JOURNAL ENTRIES!!!!! I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on. I can't stop crying and i feel like, why get out of bed in the morning cause everthing sucks... Reading all this helps so much. I am 43 and this is my last baby and so i also feel a deep saddness that this is like a door slamming shut on the most wonderful part of my life.... I feel so depressed and sad, i hope it goes away soon. I never had any postpartum depression so this is really weird and horrible.

Ashley said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, ladies! My mom is the only woman I know (besides myself) who has breastfed past a year, and 30 years is much too long for her to accurately remember if she felt the awful post-weaning-hormone effects. I had terrible postpartum depression, which escalated once DD started eating baby food. At 14.5 months, she is down to one feeding per day at 6:30AM (right before I leave for work), and that's truly more for our bonding than for nourishment. The weaning has been VEERRRRRYYYYYY gradual, so the changes have been subtle, but now that we're down to only one feeding a day, I feel a bit nauseous, light-headed, and very sad. Personally, I know that this is related as much to my own anxiety about losing that bond with my baby (toddler) as it is the hormone changes, but it is so nice knowing that I am not alone in this struggle. Thank you all for your posts!

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for this blog. I've been at home for three weeks crying and raging like a lunatic multiple times a day. My 2 yr old weaned the day after her 2nd birthday and although we planned it and were both fine with it, it has totally kicked my ASS from here to hell. I had PPD and grief from losing my dad while pregnant but this last few weeks has been WORSE than PPD and grief. I thought I'd never have a harder time than after my DD was born but this month has proved me wrong. I like the 'weaning crazies' comment, it totally suits.

anonymous said...

wow so helpful to know that others have gone through the 'weaning crazies' i recently weaned my 25 month old and although it was a gradual process and went fairly smoothly, we are both definitely going through an adjustment period. i didn't realize how much these hormones can do to you! i am so easily irritated these days, and usually i'm as cool as a cucumber. so thanks for this post, and for everyone who left comments and shared their stories as well :)

Anonymous said...

Swistle,

I'm so excited to read this. I became an anxious mess during the 4 months that I tried to slowly wean my child (went back to work, was pumping, had to keep going on travel). I actually got diagnosed with PPA during that time. Finally, when I finished fully weaning her, within 6 weeks I started to feel like myself again. However, it is 7 months later and I am having HORRIBLE PMS. Anyone else?

ConsumeConformObey said...

Gayle, you are not alone. I went through this too. If you would like to read more about my experience battling weaning depression I write about it over at Milk Eyes. Suffice to say I had a few weeks where I thought that, after a few years anti-depressant free, that I was headed back into the depths of clinical depression- but by the time I summoned enough energy to see someone about it, the veil of sadness and anxiety had begun to lift (and I found this and other similar articles which helped me realise I was not alone).

Debbyie said...

Wow, I am so glad I found this thread. Baby #3 is 6 weeks old, and I never connected what I thought was late-onset PPD and my rapidly diminishing milk supply/early weaning with DD1. She was eating more than I could produce by 6 months, and I gave up nursing for good at 9 months due to a babyless vacation (and thought it wouldn't be a big deal--HA!). With DD2, I had a different schedule where I could pump regularly, and she was a terrible sleeper and up to nurse in the middle of the night past 6 months old. We had a lovely mutual and gradual weaning at 14 months. I never went through PPD with her. With my little guy, I'll make sure I don't go cold turkey, but just for my comfort but also apparently for my sanity LOL.

Linny02 said...

I too am glad I found this! When I'm feeling really bad (like now) I re-read everone's comments and feel comforted knowing I'm not alone/crazy. My baby started cutting back feedings about 2 months ago and we officially weaned 1 month ago at 15 months. It has been a nightmare for me since---way worse than my short ppd. I've have/had it all: panic attacks that seem to last all day, anxiety in general, a little depression, irritability, crying jags, and insomnia. I do have good days which get my hopes up and I've tried everything natural I can: exercise, fresh air, sunlight, health eating, yoga, counseling and some vitamins/herbs. I'm off to call my OB tomorrow to see if she has any other ideas. I wish there was information and support for weaning as there is for postpartum.

mball said...

Hi everyone, I'm so glad I found this site. Linny02, I'm going through the same exact thing. I stopped nursing my 14 month old 2 months ago and since then have felt awful, anxiety, depressed, panic attacks, no energy, insomnia, no appetite. I'm already underweight for some reason, (maybe all the nursing?) which is worrying me too. I'm currently seeing a therapist, getting my hormones checked at my doc. I have a holistic OB which put me on a few supplements that she said would help with stress and what I'm going through. I'm trying to be hopeful, but getting very frustrated at the same time. I want my life back and to be normal again. I'm not big on script meds, but I even tried Lexapro for 1 day and it made me feel crazy! I had a horrible reaction, so I've realized that's not an option for me. What else to do but wait it out? I'm not even sure at the point. How long does it take to go away?

Anonymous said...

Does everyone always have the weaning blues? I have a 8 month old that is becoming less interested in nursing. How can I make this transition easy for me.