Breastfeeding // Is this goodbye?
You’ve done well. You’ve served your purpose for three and a half months now, and I couldn’t be prouder of you.
From the early days with Indy suckling; the tongue-tie, the cracked nipples, the bleeding. I slathered lanolin cream all over you and you healed beautifully. You got used to be pulled and sucked (for what felt like) hundreds of times a day.
We got through the blocked duct saga swiftly with the help of Dr Google. I thought child birth was uncomfortable, but milk stuck in ducts? Ouch! Thank goodness for cooling gel pads and hot baths.
We reached the “Holy 8 weeks of breastfeeding” stage, where the uncomfortableness of you filling with milk passed. Where I no longer curled my toes during every feed, dreading the moment Indy would de-latch himself so I’d have to re-latch, and feel the sharp pain course down my body once more.
And when we hit 12 weeks of breastfeeding I actually started to enjoy the experience. The little hand that would rest itself on the top of my breast as if to say ‘this is mine’. The look of love I’d receive while Indy guzzled away. The smile he’d give me, after de-latching with milk dribbling down his chin, that said: “Thanks Mama! I love you! This is the good shizzle!”.
You coped so well with a baby who wanted to feed every hour… Sometimes every thirty minutes. You did it. You continued to provide.
But now our time is coming to an end.
You aren’t full and brimming with milk anymore. You don’t remind me that it’s time to feed with your achy heaviness. You don’t scream “milk me!” when Indy is in the sling, snoozing next to you, as you once did.
I knew this time would come. I knew we couldn’t continue at the pace we were going. I knew we’d need to cut back at some point so I could get something that vaguely resembles sleep.
To be able to share feeds.
To be able to have a life again.
To be able to leave the house without worrying I’d have to whip you out in the alleyway on my way to pick up the Toddler from Nursery. Without having to find a café or park bench every hour to feed a hungry baby. Basically, without spending every minute in public with you out on show!
But I’m sad.
For weeks I strongly disliked breastfeeding. I hated the pain. The requirement to be constantly needed. Solely needed.
I’d lost part of my identity. I was a prize dairy cow. I could only wear clothes that were boob-exposing friendly. I couldn’t eat certain foods. I couldn’t leave the baby with the Husband, or Grandparents, for more than an hour.
And now we have slowly weaned onto the bottle, I am feeling more myself again. I’m happier because I’m getting more sleep. I’m happier because I can relax and have time to myself once more. I’m happier because I can spend more time with the Toddler that doesn’t involve watching CBeebies on the sofa while I feed for hours on end.
I spend every feed wondering whether this will be our last. Hoping that it won’t be. Hoping for one final feed.
Because when it ends, so does a part of Indy being a baby. Being so tiny. So dependent. And it means the next chapter, which is both exciting and heart-breaking. Before long he’ll be almost-three like the Toddler; running around, giving me grief, driving me bananas… amazing me with his cleverness. Walking. Talking. Jumping. Spinning.
I feel so bonded to Indy. And Breasts, you have helped that bond. Guided it. Encouraged it. I missed out on the closeness of breastfeeding with the Toddler. And it is so special. Something no one else but you can experience with your baby.
So thank you Breasts:
Thank you for providing Indy with all the nutrition and good stuff over the past fifteen weeks.
Thank you for keeping going, even when times were hard and all I wanted you to do was stop.
Thank you for letting me have the breastfeeding experience I so craved to have after breastfeeding didn’t work out with the Toddler.
Thank you. I’ll never forget the 3am snuggles.