Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The end

I'm pretty sure, after sixteen and a half months, my breastfeeding days are over. Not forever, obviously, I envisage being pinned to the sofa by another small beast at some point, but T has had his last Mama milk.

I can't decide how I feel about this. I loved breastfeeding, well, from 5m on I did, before that I utterly hated it. Seriously, I dreaded every feed for the longest time, T couldn't latch for almost a week after he was born, and for a while after that only with the aid of a nipple shield. Each feed was a battle, and couldn't be achieved without flashing my entire post-natal midriff as I endeavoured to position the baby and hold the shield into place. Once he had got the hang of feeding 'bare back' I became engorged, had mastitis and nipple thrush (ouch!) and then he started rejecting the breast. I clearly remember weeping in the middle of the night when my hungry baby just wouldn't suckle.

I don't remember when breastfeeding became easy. I just remember one day realising it hadn't been a battle for a while, and liking that feeling. From then on we were flying! I fed T everywhere and anywhere, including once in the middle of a miniature golf course. I kept my free hand ready to shield his head from errant balls, but he was a hungry baby, and needs must!

T loved his milk (from me, cow's milk is evil and must be spat from the beaker, obviously, we've tried, lots!) and until relatively recently he was still feeding in the night, snuggled into my chest he'd latch when he liked and drink his fill. As much as I wanted my marital bed back, there's nothing to match the feeling of looking at a chubby milk-drunk baby and knowing that you did that. Seriously, for someone with frustrated creativity, what better 'make' could there be!

I always said I would wait for T to self-wean. Despite the raised eyebrows from friends and relatives who asked if I was 'still feeding?', once I'd got to a year, why would I stop on anything other than his schedule? I sort of imagined he might go off the taste of his own accord had I become pregnant again, but actually, before I've even had the chance, I think his lust for life has overtaken his lust for latch.

T's shown much less interest in milk for weeks now, down to a feed a day for a month (mornings only, barring an extra couple whilst he was poorly) and they've become shorter each day. He's obviously keen not to linger one moment longer than he needs to, having working out a way to wriggle his entire body off the edge of our (low) bed so he can stand up whilst continuing to suck. Surely I should win some sort of double jointed boob award? As soon as he's had his fill this means he's perfectly poised to run off and start the day proper, with big boy food like, erm, Weetabix. I think the best sign that his weaning has been natural is that, 84 hours after his last feed (or three and a half days, which probably makes more sense!) I've not suffered any discomfort. My hard fought for supply, maintained during those nursing strikes with Fenugreek and my trusty breast pump, has truly followed his lead, and dwindled gradually before losing interest altogether.

I am sad we didn't manage to make the magic two year mark, as recommended by the WHO, but also very proud that we got this far, stuck with it and stopped entirely on his terms. Beyond bringing my son into the world, feeding him myself (a Victorian phrase I've always kind of liked) has been my proudest achievement. I suppose this Baby Led Weaning superfan got her wish.

Goodbye my clip-up bras. Hello the bedside board book pile. Well, you didn't think I'd give up my morning cuddles that easily did you?!

1 comment:

Beth said...

My Elenore would nurse every night to fall asleep. One month shy of her 18mth mark we found out we were expecting again(it was planned)The NIGHT we found out we were pregnant, Elle went straight to her bed without seeming to want to nurse, so I followed her lead, and the next night and so on, she was done. I don't know if the hormones had changed the taste of milk due to pregnancy, or if somehow she knew. So I sucked it up, got over it and went to Victoria Secrets to get me a nice fancy bra!