I’d heard of postpartum blues, baby blues but never of prolactin blues. I wasn’t ready for feelings caused by the crash of hormones at the end of breastfeeding. I wasn’t ready at all.
Sophie stopped breastfeeding suddenly 9 days ago, on her birthday. Overnight she stopped drinking contentedly, pausing every few minutes to look up and smile, one little finger pointing to touch my nose, and instead pushed me away angrily, smacking my breasts and arching her back, screaming in frustration until I gave her a bottle. She was done, ready to move on to toddlerhood, to sippy cups, walking, and exploring.
She was ready, but I wasn’t. I had only just begun planning out how to wean her. I should have known that most things in motherhood can’t be planned, that just like her birth, Sophie would choose her own feeding schedule. My breasts were full, leaking, but she no longer wanted anything to do with them. I was left dazed and hurt, an emotional mess with painfully tender Bo Derek breasts.
Sophie’s decision to wean felt like an abrupt goodbye, the end of quiet sessions softly stroking her downy head, marveling at her tiny toes and her pudgy thighs, the end of our private daily communion. Would anything between us ever be as simple and beautiful?
I know that I’ll be feeding Sophie for decades, preparing her favorite meals, and expressing my mother’s love and need to nurture in the kitchen. She already loves my creamy spaghetti meat sauce, but she eats it on her terms, by the fistfuls with enthusiastic smears all over her face and hair. She loves it like a big girl, a smaller version of her loud, messy and very independent siblings. I wasn’t ready to let you loose into their world, to say goodbye to your little hand touching my face, to have you become just another mouth at our dinner table.
So forgive my grief over this baby year that flew by so quickly. I treasured most moments of it, especially those middle of the night feedings, just the two of us in a dark and quiet house, but it still ended too soon. My milk will dry up soon, and so will my tears, but indulge my prolactin blues for a little while. It’s more than just hormones, it’s also my goodbye to the baby years.