6 Jan 2015

Saying Goodbye To Breastfeeding


Alex is now 5 ½ months old and I have started to slowly phase out breastfeeding. I’m going back to work in less than two months, and since my job involves a lot of travel and being away from home, it’s just not practical to still be breastfeeding when I’m working. Besides, I never intended to do it for more than six months in the first place, and I’m really chuffed and very proud that I have managed to keep it going for this long.

With Becky, I had huge breastfeeding problems. Contrary to what breastfeeding advocates propagate, I didn’t have enough milk from the start, and Becky didn’t regain her birth weight until over five weeks in, screaming constantly in a distressing mix of colic and what I now know was hunger. It took a number of desperate repeat trips to the doctor’s and children’s A&E until eventually a not so brainwashed consultant advised me to supplement with formula, as Becky was failing to thrive and it was affecting her health.

I remember crying my eyes out the first time I had to give her a bottle of formula, thinking I was giving my daughter the devil’s work and feeling a complete failure as a mother because I couldn’t nourish my own child. And once she had taken the bottle (and started to put on weight), she refused to go back on the breast, which was even more heart-breaking and made me feel even more redundant. I subsequently expressed milk for eight months in an excruciating schedule of getting up twice a night to express (even though Becky slept through the night from week 12) and keep my milk supply up. I think I was punishing myself for having failed Becky at breastfeeding, and I was determined to squeeze the last drop of breastmilk out of me (quite literally), even if it killed me.

So to have been able to breastfeed Alex for as long as I have and seeing him thrive into this whopper of a bouncy boy, is a massive deal for me and feels like a really big achievement.  

Saying that, I have come to the end of my breastfeeding journey. Six months is good enough for me (and I believe for Alex, too; after all, I have given him the best start), and I’m ready to move on. Rationally I am, at least.

But saying Goodbye to breastfeeding is actually a bit emotional. A lot more than I thought. Knowing that it’s the last time ever that I will be nurturing a baby is just a little bit sad, and I will miss the small, intimate moments that I have shared with Alex, just me and him. Like when he falls asleep on the breast after a satisfying feed, with a content smile on his face and full hamster cheeks, still suckling in his dreams (of milk, most likely!). Or when he gazes up at me while feeding, stops, and gives me the biggest smile ever or coos happy sounds. These are little precious moments that were just ours, and it’s hard to give those up.

But despite the melancholy, deep down I know it’s the right thing for me to do. Whilst I’ve loved breastfeeding this time round, I have also on many occasions found it restrictive, all-consuming and a huge responsibility and worry (especially in the early days: would I have enough milk? would we be able to establish breastfeeding? would he thrive?). It's been a lot of pressure, and there are definitely two sides to breastfeeding, like with everything else.

So, I might have mixed emotions about severing the final physical tie with my baby , but the positives outweigh the negatives for me, and I am looking forward to my new found freedom - like not having to think about what I eat and drink and what impact it will have on Alex, throwing away my nursing bras and buying some nice lingerie, and above all, wearing my beloved dresses again.

It’s been truly lovely to be able to breastfeed Alex, but I don’t think intimacy between a child and his Mum is defined by breastfeeding, and I know I will have just as many lovely memories by giving him the bottle and holding him tight, still gazing at each other and cooing and smiling, as well as starting his weaning together. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you’re nourishing your child, but just that you do, and that you’re doing it with love.

So, bye bye breastfeeding, it’s been an experience I will always treasure!

*This is a link-up with Honest Mum's great linkie Brilliant Blogposts. Check it out here .
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6 comments

  1. Stopping breastfeeding when it's been a good breastfeeding relationship is always bittersweet. You have nourished two babies through sheer dedication and hard work, and of that you should be very proud

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words. It's lovely to hear!

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  2. I have mixed feelings about stopping breastfeeding too, I am hoping to let Boo self-wean and thought that going back to work when she was 11months old would bring about the end of breastfeeding but we are still going strong, I can see signs of the end though and it makes me sad!
    I think it's great that you have managed to breastfeed for 6 months especially after your first experience, and also wow, just wow that you managed to keep up with the expressing with your daughter!
    I hope that weaning on to solids goes well for you and your little boy =)

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    1. Thank you so much! My breastfeeding experience first time was so disappointing, and I was beating myself up about it for so long. That's why I'm so happy that I managed to do it second time round. Even though I am stopping soon, it will be one of the happiest memories of Alex's early days for me. I hope you manage to wean your little one off at a time that works well for both of you, whenever that may be and that you can also look back at a massive achievement! :-)

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  3. I totally agree with your closing sentiment, I remember crying when I gave up bfeeding after 7 months with my first but I knew a much shorter time was right with my second child. Mothers must do what is right for them, not put pressure on themselves and as you said, realise it's the love that matters. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

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    1. Thanks Vicky! I know it's the right thing for me to do at this stage now, and I look forward to a new chapter. :-) x

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